Photos of South Eastern Arnhem Land - Numbulwar, Australia

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South Eastern Arnhem Land - Numbulwar

Opposite Groote Eylandt, on the mainland of east Arnhem Land, is the Aboriginal community of Numbulwar. It was established as a permanent settlement by Aboriginal peoples and the Church Missionary Society as the Rose River Mission in 1952, but administrative authority was handed over to Aboriginal people from the mid 1970s. The community is now administered by the Numbulwar Numburindi Government Council. As in almost all remote communities, visitors to Numbulwar need a permit to enter this country.

Houses in Numbulwar
 
Wumajbarr
 
View to the shop
 
Near Gulurruj
 
East Arnhem Land coast
 
View of Numbulwar
 
Houses along courtyard
 
Numbulwar beach
 
Pandanus palms
 
Malagayangu coast
 
Almalamig Point
 
Spearfishing
 
Boy spear fishing
 
Family on the beach
 
Boiling a ray
 
Numbulwar coast
 
River mouth
 
Cooking a turtle
 
Numbulwar street
 
Billabong
 
Waterlilies
 
Playing cards
 
In Amalarruj
 
Getting turtle eggs
 
Aerial view
 
Carpentaria coast
 
 
Numbulwar CEC
 
Wiyayi rivermouth
 
View to the school
 
View from water tower
 
Gulf of Carpentaria view
 
Flooded road
 
 
Elevated houses
 
Walk in Numbulwar
 

The country that Numbulwar is built on, along the Rose River, belongs to the Nunggayinbala clan, one of the Wubuy or Nunggubuyu speaking clans from this region. There are many other clans, who have now established "Homeland Centres" or outstations on their ancestral lands; from Wuyagiba (Numamurdirdi clan land), just north of the Roper River in the south, to Walker River (Manggurra land) some 120 kilometres north of Numbulwar. Wumajbarr, about 12 kilometres from Numbulwar, is the nearest and belongs to the Nunggumajbarr clan; it is beautifully situated along a river. Malagayangu, about 50 kilometres north and a good fishing spot, belongs to the Murrungun clan. "Ownership" is determined by the existence of sites of significance, associated with ceremonies and song cycles, belonging to each clan.

These ceremonial activities are still very important and boys' initiations and other men's rituals are performed regularly. The Nunggubuyu language (Wubuy), however, is in serious decline; although the school had a bilingual program, young people don't speak it anymore, but use "Kriol", an Aboriginal Creole based on a mainly English vocabulary instead, like in Ngukurr and other communities in this region. Apart from Nunggubuyu clans there are, directly to the west, a number of other groups: Ritharrngu, Ngandi, Wandarrang and Mara; but their languages are virtually extinct too.