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Numbulwar

Also known as: Rose River

Location: Numbulwar is at the mouth of the Rose River, on the western side of the Gulf of Carpentaria, about 250 km south of Nhulunbuy.

History: The Rose River Mission, later to become Numbulwar, was established by the missionaries from Roper River Mission in 1952. Developing into a township through the 1950s and 1960s, it became self-managing with its own council in the 1970s.

Population: Approximately 1207 people, although this can fluctuate greatly.

Languages spoken: Kriol is the most common language used but Nunggubuyu is spoken by older people.

Traditional ownership: Numbulwar is on Nunggubuyu country.

Governance: Governance at Numbulwar is the responsibility of
(v) the Numbulwar Numburindi Community Council for municipal service matters (under the NT’s Local Government Act) and
(vi) the Northern Land Council for land-related matters (under the Commonwealth’s Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976).

Homeland centres: Numbulwar is the location of an outstation resource centre which provides essential services to many small homeland centres or outstations in the surrounding region.

Land tenure/permits: Under the NT’s Aboriginal Land Act, a written permit is required to visit Numbulwar; applications for permits should be made to the Northern Land Council’s office in either Katherine or Darwin.

Intoxicating substances: Alcohol is banned from Numbulwar, with severe penalties applying to breaches of this rule. This applies to both residents and visitors.

Essential infrastructure: Reasonable, with power, water and sewerage supplied. Historically, Numbulwar has experienced water shortages in past years, a consequence of which has been that the council has imposed occasional water restrictions. There is a shortage of housing resulting in overcrowding.

Other facilities: These include a general store and take-away, school (up to grade 10), health clinic (staffed by full-time nurses, Aboriginal Health Workers and a resident GP), a mechanical workshop, postal agency, Centrelink office and a branch of the Traditional Credit Union.

Community life: There is a lot of movement of Aboriginal people between Numbulwar, Ngukurr and Groote Eylandt.

Access: By road, air or boat. Road access is possible only during the Dry season (usually April-October). Numburindi Air and Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) fly to and from Numbulwar frequently. There is a fortnightly barge service from Darwin to Numbulwar.