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West Arnhem Regional Council LGA

About the profile areas

The 2016 Estimated Resident Population for West Arnhem Regional Council LGA is 7,022, with a population density of 0.00 persons per hectare.

Location and boundaries

The West Arnhem Regional Council area is located in the top end of the Northern Territory, about 250 kilometres east of the Darwin CBD. The West Arnhem Regional Council area is bounded by the Arafura Sea in the north, the Developing East Arnhem Limited area in the east, the Roper Gulf Regional Council area in the south, and the Victoria Daly Regional Council area, Unincorporated Northern Territory and Van Diemen Gulf in the west.

Name origin

West Arnhem Regional Council is named for the western part of Arnhem land, which was named after the Dutch ship Arnhem which explored the coast in 1623.

Settlement history

Traditionally, indigenous people lived in the area, and continue to do so, mainly in small communities. European settlement dates initially from 1824 when a small settlement was established at Port Essington on the Cobourg Peninsula, although population was minimal until the early 1900s. In 1931 much of the area was declared an Aboriginal Reserve and became known as Arnhem Land. Several missions were established during the early to mid 1900s, both on the mainland (Gunbalanya and Maningrida), and on Croker Island (Minjilang) and South Goulburn Island (Warruwi). The south-eastern part of the area was declared a national park (Kakadu) in the 1970s. The township of Jabiru was established in 1982 to service the nearby Ranger uranium mine, which commenced operations in the early 1980s, finished open cut mining in 2012, and is currently processing stockpiled ore. The population of the Council area increased gradually from the mid 1990s, rising from about 6,200 in 1996 to about 7,500 in 2011.

Land use

The West Arnhem Regional Council area is a rural, conservation and wilderness area, with a small township at Jabiru, small Aboriginal townships at Gunbalanya, Maningrida, Minjilang and Warruwi, and numerous outstations. About two-thirds of the population is Aboriginal. Tourism is an important industry. The Council area encompasses a total land area of about 50,000 square kilometres.


The West Arnhem Regional Council area is served by the Arnhem Highway, the Kakadu Highway and several small airports.

Major features

Major features of the Council area include Arnhem Land, Kakadu National Park (including Bowali Visitor Centre, Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls, Mamukala Wetlands, Nourlangie Rock Art site, Ubirr Rock Art site and Yellow Water), Gagig Gunak Barlu National Park (including Black Point Cultural Centre), Cobourg Marine Park, various small islands and beaches, Van Diemen Gulf, Cobourg Peninsula, Jabiru Lake, Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Jabiru Golf Club and various resorts and fishing lodges.

Indigenous background

The original inhabitants of the West Arnhem Regional Council area were various Aboriginal tribes, including the Bininj/Mungguy Aboriginal people.

Included areas

The West Arnhem Regional Council area encompasses the localities and communities of Cobourg, Gunbalanya, Jabiru, Kakadu, Maningrida, Minjilang, Van Diemen Gulf, Warruwi and West Arnhem.


Much of this area is Aboriginal freehold land held by the Northern Land Council).