The community of Gunyangara (Marngarr, Ski Beach) is located on the Drimmie Peninsula which forms part of Melville Bay on the Gove Peninsula. Ski Beach is 13 km west of Nhulunbuy CBD. The Community of Gunyangara is on Gumatj land belonging to the Yunupingu, Burarrwanga and Munungirritj clan groups of north east Arnhem Land. The small island is joined to the mainland by a causeway at Drimmie Peninsula west of Nhulunbuy.

Gunyangara community was established in the late 70s and early 80s by Galarrwuy Yunupingu and his family, who at that time lived in Yirrkala, 15km east of Nhulunbuy.

The family decided that it was time for the Gumatj people to move out of Yirrkala and occupy their traditional tribal lands, in and around the Gove Peninsula, so that the children would be taught the songs, dreaming, history and stories of the Gumatj people.

The people living in Gunyangara make up twelve different clan groups from within the Miwatj region.
According to the 2011 ABS Census, approximately 155 people live in Gunyangara, with the predominant languages being Gumatj (37.7%) and Galpu (29.4%), both dialects of the Indigenous language Yolngu Matha. The close proximity to the mining township of Nhulunbuy means access to health, education and work is available if sought after.

Local government

Gunyangara is set on the Gumurr Miwatj Ward of East Arnhem Regional Council. This is one of six wards in the Council.  In 2012 Gumurr Miwatj Ward elected three (3) of the fourteen (14) Regional Council members. Council headquarters are in Nhulunbuy with a service delivery centre in Gunyangara, with extension of services also run from Yirrkala.

Land council

The Northern Land Council, based in Darwin and with a regional office in Nhulunbuy, is the land council to the community. It is responsible for matters under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976.

This includes:

  • checking, representing and responding to the wishes and opinions of local Indigenous people about legislation, tourism, development and commercial activities that affect traditional land, and
  • helping traditional landowners claim, manage and protect the land.

All of Arnhem Land was proclaimed as an Aboriginal reserve in 1931. The Yolngu people have been recognised as holding native title rights to parts of East Arnhem Land. This includes rights over the sea which co-exists with the rights of commercial and recreational fishers in one of the Northern Territory’s most abundant fishing grounds.