Exploring Groote Eylandt – Your Ultimate Weekend Guide

Nestled in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Groote Eylandt lures travellers in with its untouched natural beauty and rich indigenous culture. This remote island located off the coast of Australia’s Northern Territory is beloved for its expansive beaches fringed with swaying palm trees and rugged cliffs.  But Groote Eylandt isn’t just about its stunning scenery; it’s also a cultural gem. Home to the Anindilyakwa people for thousands of years, the island is steeped in indigenous heritage.

Ready to explore Groote Eylandt? Read our travel guide on this fascinating destination in the Australian outback.

blue skies and clear waters on Groote Eylandt
Photo by @lincoln_petith on IG

The History of Groote Eylandt

Groote Eylandt is the fourth largest island in Australia. The island was discovered in 1644 by Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman.

He named it Groot Eiland, the dutch term for the phrase “large island”. The First Nations name for the island is Ayangkidarrba, and it comes from the Anindilyakwa language.

The aboriginal Anindilyakwa people inhabit Groote Eylandt, Bickerton Island, and Woodah Island, which are all located in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The Anindilyakwa Aboriginal people are the traditional owners of the Groote Eylandt archipelago region and are referred to by their language name, ‘Anindilyakwa’.

The Anindilyakwa have occupied Groote Eylandt for some 8,000 years, and 14 clans live in the archipelago area.

How to Get From Darwin to Groote Eylandt

Groote Eylandt is located northeast of the Northern Territory, and it’s less than two hours from Darwin. The Gulf of Carpentaria is a shallow sea enclosed by northern Australia on three sides. The island is approximately 50 km off the shore of the mainland, and around 630 km away from the Northern Territory’s capital, Darwin.

The best way to access Groote Eylandt is by a 1.5-hour flight from Darwin. There are one to two flights between Darwin and Groote Eylandt on a daily basis, and a round trip is priced around $750 to $900 AUD. The best way to ensure that Groote Eylandt is open during your visit is to the National Indigenous Australians Agency or the NIAA’s website.

Check out flight availability to Groote Eyelandt here.

Image by @Kategreen91 on IG

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Where to Stay on Groote Eylandt

The most popular place to stay on Groote Eylandt is by far the Groote Eylandt Lodge. With views of the Gulf of Carpentaria, an outdoor pool, a sea-view bar and restaurant, the Groote Eylandt Lodge is located in Alyangula in the North-Western part of Groote Eylandt.

The lodge is located right by the water and offers many amenities like airport transportation, a fitness center, and an outdoor pool. All the rooms are large and spacious, and the option for a water front room is also available. The lodge’s restaurant, the Seagrass Bar and Restaurant, has a gorgeous view of the gulf as well as meal options for everyone.

Guests can enjoy sitting on their balcony and taking in the sea air. The rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, refrigerator, kettle, ironing facilities, and an ensuite bathroom.

The resort is a 15-minute walk from the town centre of Alyangula with local amenities such as a pharmacy, newsagent, Australia Post and a gift shop.


Fishing & Cultural Experiences

One of the most popular activities on Groote Eylandt is fishing. The Groote Eylandt Touring Company has a handful of fishing excursions that are open to the public. They range from 1 to 6-day trips and are fully guided by professionals.

Visiting the Anindilyakwa Arts and Cultural Centre is a great way to explore the local aboriginal culture. Founded in 2005, the centre focuses on selling art made by First Nations people, the centre buys the art pieces from the artists, and then tourists purchase for a memorable Groote Eylandt keepsake and experience.

The Arts and Cultural Centre is located across the Groote Eylandt Lodge and is open from 9 am-5 pm from Tuesdays – Fridays, 10 am-2 pm on Saturdays and closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Photo by @kobwa55 on IG
photo of a fish swimming in the waters of a Groote Eylandt beach
Photo by @monaddi

Do You Need a Permit to Visit Groote Eylandt?

In order to visit Groote Eylandt, you must acquire a permit. 

Recreation Permit

A recreation permit is needed to visit the island. You can apply for a recreation permit here.

Want to visit outside of the recreation areas?

If you are interested in visiting aboriginal land outside of the designated recreation areas, a special access permit is needed.

Separate permits must be acquired for working and photography.

Read more about permits here.

Have you visited Groote Eylandt? Comment below and share your experience!

Norther® would like to invite you to explore more about the beauty at Groote Eylandt here. And… as always, you can get more inspiration for other Destinations & National Parks to visit by following @northerhq or get your Groote Eylandt daily fix @grooteeylandt.

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NORTHER ® provides encouragement for travellers to value, enjoy and explore the NT in a one-of-kind way so they can honour and respect culture through care and integrity.

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