Visiting Aboriginal Communities

If you have never travelled to an Aboriginal community before it can be quite a daunting experience. Please take the time to read this as it will help you when you travel.

To travel into Aboriginal communities you need a permit. If travelling with ALPA staff this has been arranged for you. If not travelling with ALPA staff you need to organise your own permits through the respective land councils.
Even if you have a permit to travel into communities, from time to time the community may be closed at short notice. This may be due to a death or for cultural reasons. It is always wise to check at the last moment to ensure things are okay.
Northern Land Council
Anindilyakwa Land Council (Groote Eyland)
Tiwi Land Council (Tiwi Islands)

Restricted Areas
When in any community do not wander unless you are with a community member who has invited you to go somewhere or to see something. Seek advice if there are any restricted areas that you may not enter. There may be a ceremony or funeral happening, or it may be a sacred site. Wandering into any such event is not acceptable and would be highly offensive and possibly dangerous.

Alcohol restrictions
Make sure you obey local laws. Most communities in the top end prohibit alcohol and it is illegal to take alcohol into them. Fines are extremely high and can also include forfeiture of the vehicles that are used to carry the illegal substance in. This includes cars and aeroplanes.

Language and communication
Yolŋu, unlike the majority of Australians, speak several languages including English. When talking to them do so as you would normally talk. Do not talk ‘down’ or use baby talk. This can be very embarrassing for both parties. Most importantly do not swear or use profanities as this is offensive.
Sign and body language is very strong in Yolŋu communities and it is not unusual to see people having long distance conversations, using body movement and hand signals. It is complex but very effective.

When talking to an Aboriginal person you may find that they are not looking at you and appear to be uninterested in what you are saying. In reality this is quite the opposite; they are in fact listening carefully to what you are saying and taking it all in. Whereas Balanda talk eyeball to eyeball, Yolŋu do not generally “eye ball” when talking to you particularly if you are a stranger, Eye balling can be seen as provocative or aggressive in some circumstances. It is not a sign of insincerity.

If you wish to take photographs or film seek permission first. In most cases younger people love to have their photos taken but the older people can be less enthusiastic. Stop and think about it – would you like strangers in your street snapping photos of you, your family and home? If in doubt seek permission first.

In Yolŋu groups (Bapuru or Clans) there is a very strong and complex social structure. This results in all types of confusion for those people who do not understand it, but works very well for the people themselves. Children, for example, have several mothers and fathers besides their biological parents. This ensures that the children are generally always under supervision and care. Some relationships are called ‘avoidance’ relationships, which means exactly what it says. A good example is mother to son-in-law. This is a total avoidance relationship and means that the two parties cannot speak directly to one another or even be in the same room as one another. This can sometimes create problems at meetings and a particular person who you want to attend will not come in to the room or the meeting place. If this happens do not question it, as the people concerned will generally sort it out and come up with a solution.

Personal Care and Protection
Climatic conditions in the Top End of Australia can be very harsh and unforgiving. It is most important that you have adequate clothing, sunscreen and hat. However the most important thing is to keep up your fluid intake. It is very easy to dehydrate in a very short space of time. Make sure you drink plenty of water whilst travelling. If staying overnight, make sure you have adequate clothing and insect repellent.

Dress Standards
General dress standards in communities are loose fitting, comfortable clothing. Shorts and an open neck, cool shirt or polo is acceptable. You will not impress anyone with your dress sense; instead dress comfortably. For females, short skirts and shorts are not really acceptable. Generally women wear longer skirts, dresses, jeans or long pants. We also advise enclosed footwear.

Fact Finding
Gathering information in communities at times can be very frustrating and confusing. It often depends how you phrase a question as to whether you get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. In most cases, if the person does not fully understand the question, to avoid embarrassment they will simply say yes or agree with you.
In general terms, Aboriginal people are very shy. Although always polite they will quite often not speak when first met or questioned. If this is the case you will find it easier to talk through a third party. This is someone who they trust, such as the ALPA store manager. Communicating back and forth through a third party is quite acceptable.

If you are having a conversation be prepared to wait for a response – we call it the ‘two minute rule’. In Balanda culture, they listen and start to form a response before the speaker is finished, thus answering almost immediately. Yolŋu are much more polite. They listen carefully to the full dhawu (story), think about it and then respond (if authorised to speak on that subject), so that full consideration is given to your information or question.

Please note it is not advisable to touch a person that does not know you well. While Yolŋu do touch from time to time in a humorous moment or if they want to tell you something in confidence, it is not advisable that you touch a person until you become well known to them as it can be taken the wrong way.

In conclusion we hope that you find this information helpful. If you have any questions that may have not been covered then please give us a call or if travelling with one of our staff ask them. It may save some embarrassment at a later date.
Above all relax and enjoy a truly unique part of Australia, while meeting the traditional Aboriginal people of North East Arnhemland. Most Australians will never see this beautiful part of Australia.


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Regional Support Office

70 O'Sullivan Circuit
East Arm NT 0828
GPO Box 3825
Darwin NT 0801

Ph: 08 8944 6444
Fax: 08 8944 6400

Venue Hire


(Hooker Creek)

Store & Workshop

PMB 93 Lajamanu via Katherine NT 0852
Ph: 8975 0896                Fax: (08)8975 0613
More Info about Lajamanu





Kalkaringi Service Station

Warnkurr Sports & Social Club

PMB 177, Katherine NT 0852
Ph: 8975 0788                 Fax: 8975 0855
More Info about Kalkaringi



Nganmarriyanga Community Store

PMB 217, Winnellie NT 0822
Ph: 8978 2379                 Fax: 8978 1295

More Info about Palumpa


(Daly River)

Nauiyu Store & Workshop

PMB 28, Daly River  NT  0822
Phone: 89782474            Fax: 89782863
More info about Nauiyu


(Garden Point) Melville Island

Pirlangimpi Store
Pirlangimpi Sport and Social Club

LMB 280, Winnellie NT 0822
Ph: 8978 3868                 Fax: 8978 3936
More info about Pirlangimpi


(Croker Island)

Majila Store (ALPA Member Store)

PMB 178, Winnellie  NT  0822
Ph: 8979 0266             Fax: 8979 0514
More info about Minjilang


(Goulburn Island)

Ajurumu Self Service Store

PMB 173, Winnellie NT 0822
Ph: 8979 0233               Fax: 8979 0252
More Info about Warruwi



Adjumarllarl Store

PMB 284, Winnellie   NT   0822
Ph: 8979 0161               Fax: 8979 0137
More Info about Gunbalanya



(Alawa, Hodgson Downs)

Warliburru Store

Ph: 8975 9894                   Fax: 8975 9894
More info about Minyerri


More Info on Yurrwi

Yurrwi Store (ALPA Member Store)
RSAS (Remote School Attendance Strategy)
Rulku Enterprises
Bukmak Constructions
Manapan Furniture

Store Contact:
PMB 177, Winnellie NT 0822
Ph: 8987 9901            Fax: 8987 9981


Ramingining Store (ALPA Member Store)
Dinybulu Regional Services
RSAS (Remote School Attendance Strategy)
Dinybulu Workshop & Accomodation
ALPA Express Ramingining (ALPA Member Store)

Store Contact:
PMB 176, Winnellie NT 0822
Ph: 8979 7921              Fax: 8979 7913

More Info about Ramingining




Galiwin’ku Store (ALPA Member Store)
Buthan Store (ALPA Member Store)
Remote School Attendance Strategy
Bukmak Constructions

Galiwin'ku Store Contact:
PMB 175, Winnellie  NT  0822
Ph: 8987 9036            Fax: 8987 9066
Buthan store contact: Ph: 8944 5940
More info about Galiwin'ku


Gapuwiyak Store (ALPA Member Store)
RSAS (Remote School Attendance Strategy)
Bukmak Constructions

Store Contact:
PMB 1050, Winnellie NT 0822
Ph: 8987 9107            Fax: 8987 9181
More info about Gapuwiyak


Numburindi Store

Store Contact:
PMB 71, via Darwin NT 0822
Ph: 8975 4083
More info about Numbulwar


(Groote Eyelandt)

Mikbamurra Store

Store Contact:
Ph: 8987 6792                 Fax: 8987 6713
More info about Umbakumba


Malandari Store

Store Contact:
PMB 178, Borroloola NT 0854
Ph: 8975 8775                 Fax: 8975 8723
More info about Borroloola

Robinson River

Robinson River Store

Store Contact:
PMB 204, Katherine NT 0852
Ph: 8975 9792   Fax: 8975 9792
More info about Robinson River


Aurukun Supermarket
Island & Cape Store

Store Contact:
Kang Kang Road Aurukun, Qld 4871
Phone: 07 40606012
Fax: 07 40606107

More info about Aurukun


Napranum Supermarket
Island & Cape Store

Store Contact:
Lot 320 Wa-Tyne ST Napranum QLD 4874
PO Box 848, WEIPA  QLD  4874
Phone: 07 4069 7805
Fax: 07 4069 7806
More info about Napranum


(Mulgrave Island)
Badu Island Supermarket
Island & Cape Store

Store Contact:
Mairu Street Badu Island, Qld 4875
Phone: 07 40694847
Fax: 07 40900444
More info about Badu

Horn Island

Horn Island Supermarket
Island & Cape store

Store Contact:
2-6 Airport Road Horn Island, Qld 4875
Phone: 07 40692448
Fax: 07 40692298
More info about Horn Island

Hope Vale

Hopevale Supermarket
Island & Cape Store

Island & Cape Office:
Street address: 3/7 ANDERSON STREET MANUNDA  QLD  4870
Postal address: PO BOX 69 Westcourt QLD 4870
Ph 07 40357100
More info about Hopevale


Yarrabah Service Station

Island & Cape store

4 Range Road Yarrabah, Qld 4871
Phone: 07 40569188
Fax: 07 40569199
More info about Yarrabah


Island & Cape

Regional Support Centre

Street address: 3/7 Anderson St Manunda  QLD  4870
Postal address: PO BOX 69 Westcourt QLD 4870
Ph 07 40357100
More info about Cairns


Umagico Store

Island & Cape Store

Store Contact Details

2 Mara St Umagico

PH: 07 4069 3273

More Information about Umagico

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