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Groote Eylandt
Groote eylandt.jpg
Groote Eylandt from space, November 1989
Groote Eylandt is located in Australia
Groote Eylandt (Australia)
Location Gulf of Carpentaria
Coordinates 13°58′S 136°35′E / 13.967°S 136.583°E / -13.967; 136.583
Area 2,326.1 square kilometres (898.1 sq mi)
Length 50 kilometres (31 mi)
Width 60 kilometres (37 mi)
Highest point Central Hill (219 m)
Territory  Northern Territory
Shire East Arnhem Shire/
unincorporated Alyangula
Ward Anindilyakwa Ward/
unincorporated Alyangula
Largest city Angurugu (pop. 1269)
Population 1,539 (as of 2007-06-30)
Ethnic groups Anindilyakwa

Groote Eylandt is the largest island in the Gulf of Carpentaria in northeastern Australia. It is the homeland of, and is owned by, the Anindilyakwa people (who still speak the isolated Anindilyakwa language).

Groote Eylandt lies approximately 50 km from the Northern Territory mainland and eastern coast of Arnhem Land (approximately 630 km from Darwin). The island measures approximately 50 km from east to west and 60 km north—south, a total area of 2,326.1 km². It is generally quite low-lying, with an average height above sea level of 15 m, although Central Hill reaches an elevation of 219 meters. Its geographic coordinates are 14°00′S 136°32′E / 14.0°S 136.53°E / -14.0; 136.53. It was named by the explorer Abel Tasman in 1644 and is Dutch for "Large Island" in a now-archaic spelling (nowadays it would be spelled Groot Eiland).



Together with Bickerton Island and a few smaller satellite islands, Groote Eylandt forms Anindiyakwa Ward of East Arnhem Shire. It contains the communities of Angurugu, Umbakumba, Yadagba District, Uburamudja District and Sandy Hill (Groote Eylandt) and Milyakburra District (Bickerton Island). [1]

Outside the local government subdivision is the mining company GEMCO town of Alyangula, which is unincorporated territory within the Northern Region of Northern Territory.


Groote Eylandt is part of the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Reserve. GEMCO, a BHP Billiton subsidiary, operates a large manganese mine near the community of Angurugu. In operation since the early 1960s, the mine produces more than 3.8 million tonnes annually - about a quarter of the world's total.


The island has until recently been open to the public only with permission, and the local Aboriginal Land Council did not encourage tourism. There is now a resort style hotel and an "ET Escape" sport fishing lodge on the island and visitors are welcome. The island is becoming renowned for is fine aboriginal rock art sites, arts and crafts and outstanding sport-fishing including Sailfish, Marlin, Tuna, Spanish Mackerel, Giant Trevally, Queenfish, Coral Trout and the mighty Barramundi.


Groote Eylandt was first sighted by Europeans in 1623, by the Dutch ship Arnhem, under Willem van Coolsteerdt. However, it was not until 1644, when Tasman arrived, that the island was given a European name. The first European settlement on the island was established at Emerald River in 1921, in the form of a Christian mission by the Church Missionary Society. During World War II, in 1943, the mission moved to Angurugu, as the RAAF required the use of the mission's airstrip. The ruins of the RAAF base are still evident today. The island was also used as a flying boat base by Qantas for a period of time. In 1979, control of the island was transferred to the local Aboriginal Town Council.

Groote Eylandt was converted to Aboriginal freehold title land following the passing of the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act of 1976.

On May 20, 2008, the Federal Government signed a deal with local Aborigines from Groote Eylandt to lease land to the Government for 40 years. In return, the government will spend money in the community with the aim of improving housing, education and health in the area.


The Eylandt Echo newsletter is produced each fortnight. The newsletter's goal is to keep the community up to date on local news, events and recreation. The Eylandt Echo is sponsored by GEMCO as a community service.

See also


External links


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