Do it yourself
We've just clued you in on some excellent tours where you can sit back and/or bait a line without having to organise a thing, but we also know the appeal of a do-it-yourself holiday. Blazing your own trail brings a whole different kind of excitement to your experience – and this is definitely possible in Arnhem Land. Make sure you look into permits with the Northern Land Council or the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation, and organise a 4WD, before you head off.
Nhulunbuy and surrounds
Nhulunbuy sits on the doorstep to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes on the face of the Earth, with unspoilt wilderness just minutes away. There are a number of single or multi-day trips to be taken from Nhulunbuy, meaning the only limit is how much time until you have to return – if indeed you want to return at all.
The Dhimurru Recreation Areas are between 1 and 2 hours' drive from Nhulunbuy. You'll need a 4WD, and don't forget to follow the usual precautions such as taking plenty of water and a reliable communication device.
Pack yourself a picnic with plenty of Territory goodies and fresh water, and bring your tent, just in case you like what you see and you decide to stick around. Once you make the journey, head out towards the Dhimurru walking trails. There are 3 main trails, between 1.5 and 3 kilometres in length.
The walking trails take you past sandy beaches and jagged rock formations, showing you the rugged beauty of Arnhem Land and giving you the chance to meet the local wildlife. Find yourself a perfect place for your picnic, preferably somewhere with ocean views. Continue on the walk, knowing that it's only a couple of hours' drive back to Nhulunbuy – and a delicious dinner. Alternately, if you find a spot near Turtle Beach, Macassan Beach or Daliwuy Bay, settle in at one of the camping sites and pitch your tent for the evening.
Need to know
Best time to visit: Arnhem Land is a sight to behold any time of year. In the wet season (November to April), the rivers and creeks are flowing rapidly and nature is in full flight. In the dry season, the weather is more temperate, with less humidity and cooler days and nights. In the wet, some roads may be subject to flooding and there's always a risk of cyclones, so be sure to check with local authorities.
How to get here:
You can access Arnhem Land by road via Katherine or Darwin. Tours also depart from Darwin regularly between May and October. Daily flights with Air North land in many communities across Arnhem Land, although be sure to have ground transport organised if you fly in.
Getting around: Arnhem Land is a sprawling paradise which is both isolated and cosy at once – but to get around you'll need your own transport or a spot on a tour. There are a number of car rental options in Gove, such as Gove Rentals or Kansas Transportation, and of course Darwin.
Passes and permits: As Arnhem Land is designated Aboriginal Land, you will need a permit to visit and to camp. Contact the Northern Land Council website or the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation.
Plan ahead: Arnhem Land is many things, but a metropolis it is not, meaning planning ahead is incredibly important. Make sure you have plenty of fuel, enough water and food in case of emergency, and a satellite phone. Tell someone your travel plans, and check with local authorities about whether roads are open – particularly from November to April. Be sure to check the route as many roads are only accessible by 4WD.
Safety: Aside from ensuring you have enough water and fuel and your permits are in order, you should also Be Crocwise. There are crocodiles all over Arnhem Land, even if you're not near the coast, so don't just follow the signs – make sure you've double and triple checked before going swimming, fishing or boating. Cahill's Crossing has a high number of crocodiles, so be extra careful and be sure to cross at low tide. Drop in to the Bowali Visitor Centre or the Border Store to ask if it's safe to cross, and ensure you don't enter the water here.