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Trip Planner

Depending on where you will be visiting in East Arnhem Land it is important to ensure that you have the right permits for your trip. General information about permits in East Arnhem Land is covered below, with the specific permits required listed on each recreational area and community throughout this website to make your travel to East Arnhem Land as easy as possible.

Why do I need a permit?

All of East Arnhem Land is Aboriginal land which means it is private land but traditional owners welcome visitors to the region and recreation areas.

Like other landowners in Australia, Aboriginal people have the legal right to grant or refuse permission to people wishing to enter or travel through their land. Permits are an important part of ensuring you have the right access approvals to our beautiful region and respecting our traditional owners.

A permit is a written permission from Yolŋu traditional owners to enter their private land. The permit system is designed to help protect the privacy of Yolŋu communities, preserve Yolŋu culture, safeguard the natural environment and promote visitor safety in East Arnhem Land.

When will I need a permit?

In most circumstances you will need to apply for a permit to:

  • travel by road through Aboriginal land (note: this does not apply to public roads)
  • enter or visit an Aboriginal community or homeland
  • visit camping and recreational areas in East Arnhem Land.

Who issues permits?

There are two type of permits you will need for your East Arnhem Land adventure. Both are easily obtained online.

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Northern Land Council

The Northern Land Council is a statutory authority established under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 to represent traditional owners in management of Aboriginal land across the Top End. All of East Arnhem Land is Aboriginal land granted under this legislation, so the Northern Land Council has an important role is granting access to our region.

The Northern Land Council manages two types of permit relevant to tourists visiting East Arnhem Land:

  • Transit permit:
    • required when travelling through Aboriginal Land (driving the Central Arnhem Road)
    • required when accessing Aboriginal Land for recreational purposes (camping or fishing at designated areas such as Dholuwuy Campground or Cato River Campground)
  • Fishing Permit
    • required when accessing intertidal waters on Aboriginal Land that are not covered by existing access arrangements

Permits are required when travelling on the Central Arnhem Road as well as when visiting most Aboriginal communities in East Arnhem Land.

Fishing Permit

From 1 January 2023, the Northern Land Council introduced a Fishing Permit. A Fishing Permit is required when accessing intertidal waters on Aboriginal Land that are not covered by existing access arrangements. Most of the Gove Peninsula coastline is covered by an existing arrangement with Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation and Fishing Permits are not required to access these areas.

This permit is free and is automatically granted after submitting a short form through the Northern Land Council’s online permit system.

It’s important to note that this permit just covers intertidal waters and does not permit the permit holder to come ashore without valid permits. In an emergency fishers may seek safety ashore without a permit.

COVID-19 permit information

The Northern Land Council has specific requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information visit our COVID-19 information page


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Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation

Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation (Dhimurru) is a Yolŋu owned and operated not for profit organisation. Established in 1993, Dhimurru was given the responsibility by traditional owners to manage the Dhimurru Indigenous Protected Area that covers 550,000 hectares of Aboriginal land and sea country in the northern parts of East Arnhem Land.

Yolŋu, with the help of Dhimurru, implemented the recreation areas and permit system to enable residents and visitors of East Arnhem Land to recreate whilst providing better environmental and cultural protection of these areas. The Dhimurru Rangers are all Yolŋu and undertake land management activities, including managing the Dhimurru Recreation Areas.

Dhimurru manage two types of permits:

Visitor Access Permit 

Visitor Access Permits have a number of different lengths of time from three days for visitors to 12 months for residents. The Visitor Access Permit enables you to access Dhimurru Recreation Areas for Day Use such as walking and visiting beaches or inland waterways.


Camping Permit 

Camping Permits are required when you intend to stay overnight at a recreational area with camping facilities, or visit one of the recreation areas with special access restrictions and vehicle limits. There is a small charge associated per night per person with Camping Permits, which supports the ongoing maintenance of facilities and environmental protection initiatives. You must have a Visitor Access Permit to be able to book a Camping Permit.


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Anindilyakwa Land Council

The Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) is a statutory authority established under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 to represent traditional owners in management of Aboriginal land across the Groote Archipelago.

The ALC manages one type of access permit relevant to tourists visiting Groote Eylandt:

  • Recreation Permit

To access any of the recreational areas on Groote Eylandt an application for a Recreation Permit will need to be applied for via https://permits.anindilyakwa.com.au

For more information, visit the Anindilyakwa Land Council website.