Adventure into Yolŋu Homeland Culture, East Arnhemland, NT – Trip Notes

This tour involves visiting traditional Aboriginal people on Yolŋu homelands. You need to take your watch off, relax and settle into Yolŋu time, except of course when it comes to your arrival and departure flights.

Climate: Northeast Arnhem Land has a tropical climate. The period between May and October is cooler and drier than November to April and is general a better time for travelling in the region. Temperatures still reach 30°C during the day, but the nights are cool and rain is rare.

Dress standards: Yolŋu women dress conservatively and we ask that you do the same. Long skirts, long shorts or pants/trousers are suitable, as are t-shirts and knee-length shorts. Please do not wear bikinis, mini-skirts or shorts that show butt-cheeks.

As you will spend most of your time outdoors, you should wear cool, comfortable clothing that will protect you from the sun and insects. Breathable natural fibres and/or synthetic wicking materials are highly recommended. Avoid synthetics that do not breathe well.

A good pair of walking shoes is recommended, and possibly a pair that you don’t mind getting wet as there may be times that you will walk through water, or along rocky outcrops along the waters edge. We also recommend a sweatshirt or a long-sleeved wind breaker for cooler nights and mornings.

Communication: Telstra Next G offers the best mobile coverage in the region (Nhulunbuy and other major communities), however, none of the homelands that we visit have any mobile reception. Satellite phones are carried for emergencies and there are landlines at the homelands, however we recommend that you take advantage of this and immerse yourself in your homeland experience, using your mobile phone only as a camera.

Power: Note that there will be some power available on site for charging of cameras, phones, etc. However homelands rely on solar power for the most part and from time to time may experience power outages. Should you have medical equipment that requires power, such as sleep apnoea breathing apparatus, you should ensure that you have battery backups with you.

Drugs and alcohol: All homelands are dry. Alcohol is not permitted on Aboriginal land. The same laws for drugs apply here as in any other part of Australia. There is no place for alcohol or drugs on our tours. Visitors are allowed to purchase alcohol over the bar at various licensed venues in Nhulunbuy, but cannot buy takeaway.

Gifts and tipping: It is not necessary to bring gifts for the homelands. Your support by taking the tour and bringing business opportunities to homelands makes all the difference. However if you really want to bring something for your Yolŋu hosts, something small from your home town is usually appreciated.

If you feel like tipping any of your guides, you are welcome to do it directly.

Language: Yolŋu people speak Yolŋu Matha as their first language and English as their second. You should have no problems with communication.

Permits: Our tour operator handles Northern Land Council Permits for all customers. If you are planning to visit any of the beaches around Nhulunbuy before or after your tour, you may require a Dhimurru Recreation Area Permit. Information on this can be found on the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation website.

Photography: Yolŋu people involved in the tours do not mind having their photo taken, but it is always polite to ask first. Some ceremonies and places cannot be photographed for cultural reasons. You will be advised of these by your guides, but again, if in doubt, just ask.

Remote travel: The tours can involve travel of up to three hours on gravel roads and sandy 4×4 tracks to reach the homelands. Some of these tracks can be rough going, but tours are operated in custom made 4×4 vehicles and drivers take extra care while navigating the remote roads. If you suffer from motion sickness please let your tour leader know in advance so we can seat you accordingly.

What to pack: All transport, accommodation and meals are provided as per itinerary. You just need to pack for your trip. Think light, loose and long clothing. Yolŋu people believe in dressing modestly so no bikinis or speedos please. Sarongs are a good idea for ladies. Good walking shoes, a hat, sunscreen, towel, small torch, personal water bottle and insect repellent. It is preferred that you travel with a soft bag weighing no more than 10kg. Download our suggested packing list.

Arriving and departing: Tours commence on the morning of the first day, either with a pick up from accommodation in Nhulunbuy, or from flights arriving before 10am at Gove airport. An airport transfer back to Gove airport on the last day is provided, in time for you to catch any departing flight. If you are arriving before the first day of the tour please organise your own transport to wherever you are staying.