Kakadu to Nhulunbuy

Submitted: Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 18:01
ThreadID: 140748 Views:1664 Replies:6 FollowUps:15
Hi
Has anyone been able to secure permits in Arnhem Land to go from Kakadu to Maningrida to Nhulunbuy
then down the Central Arnhem Highway to the Stuart Hwy
We have had previous permits in to Maningrida and back out and to Nhulunbuy up and back
Wishing to visit Gallerys without back tracking
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Reply By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 18:51

Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 18:51
Brian

The only way you will get a permit is either you are working in one of the communities or have family there, otherwise totally out of the question.

Permits from the Northern Lands Council to Nhulunbuy via the Central Arnhem Highway are free and they are now encouraging tourists into the area.

Good luck and let us know if things have changed
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 19:42

Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 19:42
.
Unless of course Stephen, you are an Outback Spirit bus carrying tourists. Then it's off we go, no worries.
It really gets up my nose when a commercial enterprise obtains an advantage that is not available to the general public.
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Follow Up By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 21:48

Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 21:48
Yes they have it sewn up and they know it
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Reply By: Member - peter g28 - Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 19:50

Saturday, Nov 14, 2020 at 19:50
Travel along the "top track"..out from Cahills..into East Arnhemland you will need to get the OK from the Northern Land Council..I am lead to believe that the travel company "Outback Spirit" has something to do about the restriction of using the "top Track"..this might have changed...
If you want to visit the art galleries along the Top Track...Outback Spirit has it all tied up.
When living in Nhulunbuy..it was a huge "bone of contention" about the commercialisation of the "Top Track"..I wanted to drive to Millingimby to visit a family member who was working there..I could fly in...but driving there was completely out of the question.
You will have have to travel down to Katherine and let the Land Council know you are travelling along the CAR..it is more of letting them know who is on the track...

Good Luck.
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Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 08:25

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 08:25
Only two years ago I remember Nhulunbuy was looking for tourist dollars due to a mine or some income stream drying up. When we were in Darwin mid 2018 we thought we might drive across there but we changed our plans to do other things in QLD. I'm sure back then you could get a permit and drive your 4x4 across. Things must have changed in the last few years. Michael
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Follow Up By: Member - John - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 09:43

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 09:43
Michael, permits are available, but not for the route OP wanted.
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Follow Up By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 10:10

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 10:10
As John has said, the only way to get into Nhulunbuy is via the Central Arnhem Highway, which is free.

You have never been able to get permits coming in from the north
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Follow Up By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 10:23

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 10:23
Ok thanks, John and Stephen, I do remember
something about that now. I should read more clearly too :)) Michael
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Reply By: Phil G - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 08:36

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 08:36
We did part of that trip with Outback Spirit a couple of years ago. Credit where credit is due, they are an Aussie company who had done a huge amount of work and invested a lot of money into make it happen. On our trip it followed a lateish wet season and it was impossible to get the buses through, so they managed to keep the trip going by flying people from one community to the next. Unfortunately we had to pull out early in the trip because of a death in the family, but the friends we were travelling with said the rest of it was both good and average. The fishing experience was underwhelming but they were happy to see and go to locations that were otherwise not accessible. It was one of those trips that is expensive and you are only likely to do once, but happy you've done it.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 11:38

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 11:38
.
Sorry Phil, I can't agree with that, "Aussie company" or otherwise.
Their commercial investments should not derive exclusion of individual access.
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Follow Up By: Member - Warrie (NSW) - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 11:52

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 11:52
Agree with Alan here. However if the controlling body opened said route up to responsible 4WDers like us, what would they charge? I might do it for $50 but they would likely want $100 which IIRC is the cost to visit the NT/SA/WA border at Surveyor Generals Corner. To do a new route would be interesting, but will the art be any different to Nourlangie rock etc. Maybe the fishing could make it worth it. Maybe they would ask for $400 per vehicle, who knows. There's a definite market or is it too limited for them to bother with? Set a fair price and both the hirer of the access and the user can be happy with the deal. Make it a free PAR like to Lake Eyre in SA? Over to the forum..... W
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Follow Up By: Phil G - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 12:15

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 12:15
Allan,
As always, I respect your opinion!
But the Northern Land Council and the Indigenous Communities (and not Outback Spirit) who decide who can enter Arnhem Land.
For Outback Spirit to run tours they have had to do a heap of negotiating and have invested $15 million dollars building accommodation for the people on their trips. Not bad for a small company operating out of Albury.
Having seen what they have done to make it happen, I take my hat off to them.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 14:16

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 14:16
.
Phil,
Opinion, appinion!
And maybe they want to preserve their exclusivity after investing $15m ?
Mind you, they currently generate $176 million in sales. It's just big business economics.
Phil, I had better get out of this before the self-appointed moderator comes along! lol
Cheers Mate.
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 21:09

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 21:09
.
Phil, I have had time to further consider just what it is about the discriminatory access to this thoroughfare that annoys me.

I wrote of being annoyed at my lack of access to the track but in reality it was not a significant deprivation for me. My visit to East Arnhem Land was fulfilling without it. What was really bugging me is that this perceived discrimination of access is liable to result in it being focused upon the aboriginal community rather than on a corporate action.

If we are to positively advance in Anglo/Aboriginal relationships then behaviour such as Outback Spirit's do not help. We need unification, not discrimination.

EDIT 17 Nov: I have received a private communication censoring my use of "Anglo/Aboriginal" which I used for simplicity. It should of course have been "non-Indigenous/Indigenous" relationships.

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Allan

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Reply By: Member - Cuppa - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 16:09

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 16:09
I find this thread somewhat depressing.
Why, because I dream of spending an extended period in Arnhem Land, a minimum of 6 months. Not on expensive tours , without seeking employment, & without going there as an ‘expert’ of some sort. The only place I have been in Arnhem Land to date is Ngukurr which I loved & found extremely welcoming.
See 'My Profile' (below) for link to our Aussie travel blog, now in it's 4th year

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Reply By: Kenell - Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 17:03

Sunday, Nov 15, 2020 at 17:03
We travelled to Nhulunbuy in 2018. While we were there we made enquiries along the lines of Brian T's post ie travelling back via Maningrida etc. We were told that the permits we already had were sufficient to cover the trip however communities along the way were apt to close access without notice and it was possible - even likely - that we would become stuck. In fact when we made our enquiry Maningrida was closed for a week presumably due to a death. We chose not to chance it. I had been to Maningrida previously and I suspect part of the reason the route isn't generally available is that the communities aren't set up for all and sundry to camp in / near them. Then there are breakdown recoveries, medical emergencies and so on. All the things remote travel brings with it. The commercial venture is self accommodating and there is a degree of control over movements, numbers, frequency etc. Nhulunbuy is in a unique position with the plant closing down over such a long period of time (10 years I think?) and the need to maintain facilities for both the indigenous and white populations while that happens. The tourist $ contributes to this.
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Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 06:29

Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 06:29
I reckon who ever told you that the permit you had to travel in from the Sturt Hwy to Nhulunbuy allowed you to travel back via Maningrida is totally wrong! Lived there for decades and know that it was extremely hard to get a permit for the Nhulunbuy/Maningrida Road.. After the wet the road can be washed out in many places and as you say...communities/stores can shut down in a moments notice. This can be due to fighting in community, funeral ceremonies or even a curse put on the community. I had a special permit that allowed me to travel anywhere in Arnhem Land for recreational and work purposes.
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Follow Up By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 07:44

Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 07:44
Totally agree with Bigfish, as when you get your permit from the Northern Lands Council, it clearly only states that the only access road is the Central Arnhem Highway.,
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Follow Up By: Kenell - Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 08:11

Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 08:11
Stephen, as you would be aware, NLC only provide permits for the CAH. To go beyond there one has to seek permits from the authority in Nhulunbuy. I have forgotten the name of that authority. Our enquiry was a bit off the cuff as we hadn't really considered it carefully but since we were in there I thought I would ask the question. Others camped near us asked also and presumably got the same response so chose to go back that way. They had a better set up than us if they were to be delayed so weren't concerned about the spasmodic community closures. Another fellow in the 'caravan park' came in that way. I have no idea what permits he had or how he got them. Now the advice we received may have been wrong but the person we spoke to seemed authoritative and apparently our enquiry was not unusual.
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Follow Up By: Member - Bigfish - Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 08:26

Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 08:26
The NLC also issue permits for all of the Top End of the NT. Mine was issued by the NLC and covered me for all of Arnhem Land (East and West) due to the nature of my work and my need to travel to very remote communities. I can assure you they would not let anyone undermine this part of their business. You can get local permits in Nhulunbuy for the local area but they do not apply outside of this area.. The only official offices I am aware of in Nhulunbuy are the NLC and the local council group. All community permits go through the NLC. . I have traveled that road quite a few times and seen it at its best and its worst. Have had to turn around a few times because it was closed for ceremony business. .Luckily I was able to camp in the communities near by. ..Tourists would not be able to. Special permits can be granted to certain workers who need to travel for work purposes.
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Follow Up By: Stephen L (Clare) SA - Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 09:53

Tuesday, Nov 17, 2020 at 09:53
Hi Kennell

The other permit body you are talking about this this one Dhimurru Corporation, but they do not have any control outside of the immediate Nhulunbuy area.

The Northern Lands Council in both Darwin and Katherine issues permits for every other area and to put it bluntly, if you don’t live or work in one of the Communities, you will not get a permit.

I was very envious of our friend that was living in Nhulunbuy when we visited her.
Being a Mid Wife, she visited all those communities and because of who she was, always went that way to and from Darwin. When I asked about her permit, yes she had a special permit, but was never ever question, as she was known by everyone from the Police and all the Community Elders.
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