This vast, 97,000km2 region has just 18,000 inhabitants, with the majority continuing to live a traditional lifestyle on isolated homelands. The connection to country is strong, and traditional hunting and gathering activities are still practiced and authentic local tours are a great way to immerse yourself the culture of the Aboriginal inhabitants, and much of its environment, that remains mysterious and unknown to most outsiders.
Indigenous art and culture
Australian Aboriginal Art is famous throughout the world. But to truly appreciate it, you need to travel to its source and immerse yourself. Mount Borradaile, in western Arnhem Land, can be visited both in the wet and dry seasons and offers a remarkable body of rock art including an enormous rainbow serpent, expansive contact galleries, early naturalistic animals, dynamic figures and X-ray art.
The Garma Festival, held each August near Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula at a place called Gulkula, is the nation’s largest annual celebration of Indigenous culture in Australia, four days of storytelling, dance, musical performances and indigenous films.
Buku-Larrnggay Mulka, also near Nhulunbuy may be the best indigenous art centre in the country, thanks to its powerful variety of Yolngu bark paintings, weavings and jewellery. It also houses modern artefacts critical to Yolngu law and spirituality, headed by the Yirrkala Church Panels. The two four-metre-tall painted boards (one for each moiety, with all clans represented) are akin to a constitution.
Arnhem Land is washed by some of the most unfished waters in the country – if you love to fish you’ll love Arnhem Land. There are fishing charters available in Nhulunbuy and on the Cobourg Peninsula and your mates at home won’t believe the size of the fish. With barramundi over a metre long, there’s no need to exaggerate.