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Arnhem
Arnhem
Land is one of the five regions of the Northern Territory
Northern Territory
of Australia. It is located in the north-eastern corner of the territory and is around 500 km (310 mi) from the territory capital Darwin. The region has an area of 97,000 km2 (37,000 sq mi), which also covers the area of Kakadu National Park, and a population of 16,230. In 1623, Dutch East India Company captain William van Colster sailed into the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape Arnhem
Arnhem
is named after his ship, the Arnhem, which itself was named after the city of Arnhem
Arnhem
in the Netherlands. The area covers about 97,000 km2 and has an estimated population of 16,000, of whom 12,000 are Yolngu, the traditional owners. The region’s service hub is Nhulunbuy, 600 km east of Darwin, set up in the early 1970s as a mining town (bauxite). Other major population centres are Yirrkala (just outside Nhulunbuy), Gunbalanya
Gunbalanya
(formerly Oenpelli), Ramingining, and Maningrida. A substantial proportion of the population, which is mostly Aboriginal, lives on small outstations. This outstation movement started in the early 1980s. Many Aboriginal groups moved to usually very small settlements on their traditional lands, often to escape the problems (alcohol, petrol-sniffing, idleness) on the larger townships. These population groups have very little western influence culturally speaking, and Arnhem
Arnhem
Land is arguably one of the last areas in Australia
Australia
that could be seen as a completely separate country. Many of the region's leaders have called and continue to call for a treaty that would allow the Yolngu
Yolngu
to operate under their own traditional laws. In 2013–14, the entire region contributed around $1.3 billion or 7% to the Northern Territory’s gross state product, mainly through bauxite mining.[2]

Contents

1 History 2 Geography 3 Demographics

3.1 Art

4 Homelands 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

History[edit]

An Aboriginal man named Timmy Burarrwanga sits at Bawaka. The majority of people in Arnhem
Arnhem
Land are Indigenous Australians.

Arnhem
Arnhem
Land has been occupied by indigenous people for tens of thousands of years and is the location of the oldest-known stone axe, which scholars believe to be 35,500 years old.[3] The Gove Peninsula was heavily involved in the defence of Australia
Australia
during World War II. At least since the 18th century (and probably earlier) Muslim traders from Makassar
Makassar
(now Indonesia) visited Arnhem
Arnhem
Land each year to trade, harvest, and process sea cucumbers or trepang. This marine animal is highly prized in Chinese cuisine, for folk medicine, and as an aphrodisiac. This Macassan
Macassan
contact with Australia
Australia
is the first recorded example of interaction between the inhabitants of the Australian continent
Australian continent
and their Asian neighbours.[4]

A Macassan
Macassan
wooden sailboat or prau of the type trepangers have used for centuries

This contact had a major effect on local indigenous Australians. The Makassans exchanged goods such as cloth, tobacco, knives, rice, and alcohol for the right to trepang coastal waters and employ local labour. Makassar
Makassar
pidgin became a lingua franca along the north coast among several indigenous Australian groups who were brought into greater contact with each other by the seafaring Makassan culture.[4] These traders from the southwest corner of Sulawesi
Sulawesi
also introduced the word balanda for white people, long before western explorers set foot on the coasts of northern Australia. In Arnhem
Arnhem
Land, the word is still widely used today to refer to white Australians. The Dutch started settling in Sulawesi
Sulawesi
Island in the early 17th century. Archeological remains of Makassar
Makassar
contact, including trepang processing plants (drying, smoking) from the 18th and 19th centuries, are still found at Australian locations such as Port Essington
Port Essington
and Groote Eylandt. The Makassans also planted tamarind trees (native to Madagascar
Madagascar
and East Africa).[4] After processing, the sea slugs were traded by the Makassans to Southern China. In 2014, an 18th-century Chinese coin was found in the remote area of Wessel Islands off the coast on a beach on Elcho Island
Elcho Island
during a historical expedition. The coin was found near previously known Macassan
Macassan
trepanger fishing sites (sea cucumber fishing) where several other Dutch coins have been discovered nearby, but never a Chinese coin. The coin was probably made in Beijing around 1735. [5] Geography[edit]

Nanydjaka Cape Arnhem
Arnhem
Coast

The area is from Port Roper on the Gulf of Carpentaria
Gulf of Carpentaria
around the coast to the East Alligator River, where it adjoins Kakadu National Park. The major centres are Jabiru on the Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park
border, Maningrida at the Liverpool River
Liverpool River
mouth, and Nhulunbuy
Nhulunbuy
(also known as Gove) in the far north-east, on the Gove Peninsula. Gove is the site of large-scale bauxite mining with an associated alumina refinery. Its administrative centre is the town of Nhulunbuy, the fourth-largest population centre in the Northern Territory. The climate of Arnhem
Arnhem
Land is tropical monsoon with a wet and dry season. The temperature has little seasonal variation; however, it can range from overnight lows of 15 °C (59 °F) in the dry season (April to September) to daily highs of 33 °C (91 °F) in the wet season (October to March).

East Alligator River
East Alligator River
Crossing (Cahills Crossing)

Goyder River Crossing, Central Arnhem
Arnhem
Highway

Some areas of deep cultural significance to the indigenous inhabitants are off-limits even to those with permission to travel across Arnhem Land.

Demographics[edit]

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Declared an Aboriginal Reserve in 1931, it remains one of the largest Aboriginal Reserves in Australia
Australia
and is perhaps best known for its isolation, the art of its people, and the strong continuing traditions of its indigenous inhabitants. Northeast Arnhem
Arnhem
Land is home to the indigenous Yolngu
Yolngu
people, one of the largest indigenous groups in Australia, and who have succeeded in maintaining a vigorous traditional indigenous culture. The Malays and Makassans are believed to have had contact with the coastal Aboriginal groups and traded with them prior to European settlement of Australia. The 2006 film Ten Canoes captures life in Arnhem
Arnhem
Land through a story tapping into the Aboriginal mythic past; it was co-directed by one of the indigenous cast members. The film and the documentary about the making of the film, The Balanda and the Bark Canoes, give a remarkable testimony to the indigenous struggle to keep their culture alive – or rather revive it in the wake of considerable relative modernisation and influence of white (balanda) cultural imposition.[6] [7] Art[edit]

Glen Namundja, an Australian Aboriginal
Australian Aboriginal
artist from Arnhem
Arnhem
Land, at work

The Aboriginal community of Yirrkala, just outside Nhulunbuy, is internationally known for bark paintings, promoting the rights of Indigenous Australians, and as the origin of the yidaki, or didgeridoo. The community of Gunbalanya
Gunbalanya
(previously known as Oenpelli) in Western Arnhem
Arnhem
Land is also notable for bark painting. The indigenous inhabitants also create temporary sand sculptures as part of their sacred rituals. Arnhem
Arnhem
Land is also notable for Aboriginal rock-art, some of the finest examples of which can be found at Ubirr
Ubirr
Rock, Injalak Hill, and in the Canon Hill area. Some of these record the early years of European explorers and settlers, sometimes in such detail that Martini–Henry
Martini–Henry
rifles can be identified. They also depict axes, and detailed paintings of aircraft and ships. One remote shelter, several hundred kilometres from Darwin, has a painting of the wharf at Darwin, including building and boats, and Europeans with hats and pipes, some apparently without hands (which they have in their trouser pockets). Near the East Alligator River
East Alligator River
crossing, a figure was painted of a man carrying a gun and wearing his hair in long pigtails down his back, characteristic of the Chinese labourers brought to Darwin in the late 19th century. One Yolngu
Yolngu
prehistoric stone arrangement at Maccasans Beach near Yirrkala shows the layout of the Macassan
Macassan
praus used for trepang (sea cucumber) fishing in the area. This was a legacy of Yolngu
Yolngu
trade links with the people on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. The trading relationship antedated European settlement by some 200 years. Aboriginal artists in Arnhem
Arnhem
Land are primarily represented by Aboriginal Art Centres, nonprofit, community-owned organisations.[8] In East Arnhem
Arnhem
Land, primarily Yolngu
Yolngu
Matha-speaking artists are promoted by Buku Larrnggay Mulka in Yirrkala, Bula'bula Arts in Ramingining, Elcho Island
Elcho Island
Arts and Crafts on Elcho Island, Gapuwiyak Culture and Arts in Gapuwiyak and Milingimbi Art and Culture on Milingimbi Island. In Central Arnhem
Arnhem
Land, Maningrida Arts & Culture in Maningrida promotes the work of a diverse range of Kuninjku, Burarra, and Gurrgoni artists, amongst others. In West Arnhem
Arnhem
Land, Injalak Arts
Injalak Arts
in Gunbalanya
Gunbalanya
represents mainly Kunwinjku artists. Ngukurr Arts is located on the Roper River
Roper River
in Southern Arnhem Land. Art is also produced on the many islands of Arnhem
Arnhem
Land, and there are art centres on the Anindilyakwa speaking Groote Eylandt (Anindilyakwa Art) and the Maung speaking Goulburn Islands (Mardbalk Arts & Crafts). Homelands[edit]

An Aboriginal man pointing out fish in Port Bradshaw, Arnhem
Arnhem
Land

Arnhem
Arnhem
Land is also renowned for embracing the homeland movement, sometimes referred to as the outstation movement. A focus in recent years by governments about the "viability" of the homelands has caused tensions and uncertainty within the Arnhem
Arnhem
Land community.[9] In September 2008, then Darwin correspondent for The Age, Lindsay Murdoch, wrote: "Elders tell of their fears that Yolngu
Yolngu
culture and society will not survive if clans cannot continue to live on and access their land through homelands. They warn that if services are cut, many of the 800 people in the Laynhapuy homelands will be forced to move to towns such as Yirrkala on the Gove Peninsula, creating new law and order problems, while those who stay will be severely disadvantaged."[10] In response to changes made by the Northern Territory
Northern Territory
government surrounding reduced support for the homelands in 2009, the indigenous leader Patrick Dodson
Patrick Dodson
heavily criticised the Northern Territory government's controversial new policy on remote Aboriginal communities, describing it as a "die on the vine" plan that will "slowly but surely" kill indigenous culture.[11] Born in the 1930s, Dr Gawirrin Gumana AO is a leader of the Dhalwangu clan. He is one of the most senior Yolŋu alive today and is renowned for his artwork and knowledge of traditional culture and law. In May 2009, he had the following to say about the significance of the homelands to his people:

"We want to stay on our own land. We have our culture, we have our law, we have our land rights, we have our painting and carving, we have our stories from our old people, not only my people, but everyone, all Dhuwa and Yirritja, we are not making this up. I want you to listen to me Government. I know you have got the money to help our Homelands. But you also know there is money to be made from Aboriginal land. You should trust me, and you should help us to live here, on our land, for my people. I am talking for all Yolŋu now. So if you can't trust me Government, if you can't help me Government, come and shoot me, because I will die here before I let this happen."[12]

Despite facing government concerns and policy confusion, a number of people have developed commercial enterprises that have centred on using the best elements of their homelands. Indigenous tourism ventures incorporating the controlled use of homelands are now showing signs of success for a select number of Yolngu.[13]

See also[edit]

Kakadu National Park Wongalara Sanctuary Plants Kakadu National Park Protected areas of the Northern Territory Ubirr Gabarnmung
Gabarnmung
– Aboriginal archaeological and rock art site

References[edit]

^ Australian Bureau of Statistics
Australian Bureau of Statistics
(2 October 2008). "Australian Demographic Statistics" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-06-24.  ^ "About East Arnhem
Arnhem
Land".  ^ [1] ^ a b c MacKnight, CC (1976). The Voyage to Marege: Macassan Trepangers in Northern Australia. Melbourne University Press. ISBN 0-522-84088-4.  ^ Australian Geographic (August 2014). "18th Century Chinese coin found in Arnhem
Arnhem
Land".  ^ Vertigo Productions. "Ten Canoes". Retrieved 14 June 2016.  ^ "The Balanda and the Bark Canoes at the National Film and Sound Archive".  ^ http://www.ankaaa.org.au/ ^ Australian Government
Australian Government
(30 October 2008). "'Viability of Aboriginal communities'". Archived from the original on 2011-02-21. Retrieved 2011-02-18.  ^ The Age
The Age
(26 September 2008). "'The Homelands' Ancient Ties". Retrieved 2011-02-18.  ^ ABC (2 June 2009). "'Killing us softly: Dodson slams outstations plan'". Retrieved 2011-02-18.  ^ Australian Human Rights Commission
Australian Human Rights Commission
(2009). "'Social Justice Report 2009: Chapter 4 Sustaining Aboriginal homeland communities'". Retrieved 2011-02-18.  ^ "'Bawaka'". 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-18. 

Arnhem
Arnhem
Land. Its History and Its People. 1954. R. M. & C. H. Berndt. F. W. Cheshire, Melbourne.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Arnhem
Arnhem
Land.

Arnhem
Arnhem
Land travel guide from Wikivoyage Arnhem
Arnhem
Region Gove Online Community Website Bawaka

v t e

Australian places named by Dutch navigators and explorers in the 17th century1

Australian continent
Australian continent
/ Australian mainland

Eendrachtsland Nova Hollandia / Nieuw Holland

Queensland

Coen River Staaten River
Staaten River
(Staten Riuier) Gulf of Carpentaria Sweers Island

Northern Territory

Vanderlin Island (Cap Vanderlin) Groote Eylandt Arnhem
Arnhem
Land (Arnhems Landt) Crocodile Islands (Cocodrils Eÿlandt) Van Diemen Gulf
Van Diemen Gulf
(Baÿa van-Diemen) Wessel Islands

Western Australia

Cape Leeuwin Dirk Hartog Island Nuyts Land District Houtman Abrolhos2 Pelsaert Group Pelsaert Island Rottnest Island
Rottnest Island
(Eyland Rottenest) Swan River (Swarte Swaene-Revier)

South Australia

Nuyts Archipelago St Francis Island
St Francis Island
(Eyland St. Francois) St Peter Island
St Peter Island
(Eyland St. Pierre)

Tasmania

Van Diemen's Land
Van Diemen's Land
/ Anthoonij van Diemenslandt (mainland Tasmania) De Witt Island Maatsuyker Island
Maatsuyker Island
(Maetsuickers eylan) Pedra Branca2 Storm Bay Maria Island
Maria Island
(Marias Eylandt) Schouten Island
Schouten Island
(Schoute Eylandt)

Notes: 1with the name still in use in either original or Anglicised version 2Named by the Dutch, but a Portuguese name Many names have been Anglicised; for these the original Dutch name appears in brackets

v t e

Northern Territory

Topics

History Flag Geography Territory Government Territory Parliament Local Government Energy Sport Fire and Rescue Service Police Crime

Regions

Alice Springs
Alice Springs
Region Arnhem
Arnhem
Land Barkly Tableland Darwin Region Katherine Region

Major settlements

Alice Springs Darwin Katherine Nhulunbuy Palmerston Tennant Creek

Northern Territory
Northern Territory
portal

Coordinates: 12°43′51.02″S 134°35′34.13″E / 12.7308389°S 134.5928139°E / -12.73

.