Arnhem Land is an incredible, vast and dramatic wilderness, bordered by Kakadu National Park, the Arafura Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria. The region is immersed in Aboriginal culture: its original owners, the Yolngu people, have been the custodians of the land for the last 60,000 years. Australia’s iconic instrument, the didgeridoo, originated here.
In addition to its rich indigenous heritage and spectacular landscapes (rugged coastlines, secret islands, tranquil rainforests, savannah woodlands and lofty escarpments), Arnhem Land has wonderful wildlife. Saltwater crocs are found in abundance here; the area is also a conservation habitat for nesting turtles, dugongs and migratory birds.
It’s also one of the world’s best fishing destinations, thanks to local rivers teeming with fish (most notably barramundi). When it comes to fishy business, you could cruise inland on a tidal estuary, searching for those barramundi, join a deep-sea fishing charter, hire your own boat or try bluewater sportsfishing.
Because many of the remote, tropical tidal rivers can only be accessed with entry permits, visiting and fishing in the area needs to be arranged through accredited fishing tour operations. You could book a lodge or safari tent and add on guided fishing trips; to get around, hire a 4WD or take a scheduled flight to the remote Aboriginal communities (you could also rent your own chopper, natch).
Beach-bunnies should pay a trip to the coastal town of Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsula. Spend some time in the town itself, and join a cultural tour with expert indigenous guides. They’ll show you the crystalline waters of Nanydjaka (Cape Arnhem), just a few hours' drive from Nhulunbuy. This is a great place to go scuba diving and snorkelling.
Cobourg Park: This peninsula in the Garig Gunak Barlu National Park juts into the Arafura Sea. It’s surrounded by rocky headlands, coral reefs, bays, inlets and tidal creeks and estuaries where fat barramundi swim. It’s also popular for bluewater fishing.
Gove region: Some of Australia’s best tropical sportfishing can be enjoyed in the crystalline waters around the Gove Peninsula; barra can be found in abundance in the estuary systems around Arnhem and Buckingham Bays.
Daily flights connect Nhulunbuy with Darwin. You can also reach the region by 4WD along the Central Arnhem Road, which connects to the Stuart Highway south of Katherine. If you’re coming to Jabiru from Darwin, take the Arnhem Highway. To visit Arnhem Land, you’ll need a permit from the Northern Land Council; it’s best to join an organised tour with an operator who already has the necessary permissions.