Adventures on Groote Eylandt


An hours drive from Umbakumba rewarded us with phone signal, swimming pools, and civilization. Oh, and alcohol. It becomes a luxury when you live in a dry community!

Rat’s Cove

After a day of fishing (which mostly involves fighting sharks for your catch), it’s nice to stop at this gorgeous beach for lunch and a safe swim away from crocodiles!

North East Islands

Another gorgeous spot to stop for lunch after fishing in shark infested waters. It’s safe to swim in these clear turquoise waters but the beach is sacred land and out of bounds!

Hanging Rock

After an hours drive through the bush you’ll find this secluded beach with amazing rock features and a lot of wildlife. Don’t worry mum, it’s not that high…

Donkey Kong Rock

It’s pretty self-explanatory and pretty awesome.

The Graveyard

The way the local aboriginal people deal with death is fascinating. I got to watch a traditional funeral and a visit to the graveyard shows a permanent rainbow of flowers covering every grave.

Airport Hill

It’s barely a hill, more like a mound of sand, but it’s one of the highest points on the islands and because Groote is so flat you can see for miles.

Jagged Head

Yet another beautiful spot for lunch after a hard morning of fishing, and it’s safe enough to swim. Absolute paradise!

Red Sands

Very sacred land, I was lucky enough to visit here one evening with some local guys while they went crayfishing. It gets so dark at night you can see every star in the sky.

Thompson Bay

A peaceful little beach close to home, you can fish in the river but absolutely no swimming thanks to the saltwater crocodiles.

Old Umbakumba

A trek through the bush will lead you to the sand dunes above the beach and the site of the old community before the white folk came and moved it to its current location on the solid ground.


Home sweet (temporary) home. Dirt roads, cinderblock houses, stray dogs, feral children, no phone signal or beer, but it was beautiful in its own way. Can’t swim in the sea though. Literally infested with sharks and crocodiles.

Bonus round: Animals!

There are a ton of stray dogs in the community and some of them have become a pack and are looked after by a few different families, some are pets that are allowed to roam free and do what they want.

I temporarily adopted a gorgeous black dog who was scared of his own shadow when I first met him. After just a few days of kindness from a human, he turned into a different dog, playful and happy and just ridiculously cute. His name is Blackie and I miss him more than any human from that island.

My other favourite was Mixie the dingo. Her owners had her since she was a puppy but she is still a wild dog, she would roam the town with her doggy friends, kill her own food and clean herself in the river. Then she would come running at you and try to lick you to death. Adorable.

Bird watching is not something I would ever choose to do, I don’t have the patience. But when you’re in a remote community where you have to your own entertainment was quite nice to take the dogs for a walk and see what wildlife we could find.

Fishing is another thing I always thought of as an old man’s sport, but it turns out that it’s really fun when you’re fighting sharks for your catch! More often than not I would either reel up a half-eaten fish or an actual shark…..

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3 thoughts on “Adventures on Groote Eylandt

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  1. Hey OMG I melted when I saw your pic of Blackie…he was a camp dog and raised by Simon who was the CSM in Umbakumba until recently when he left for Canada. We have since adopted him a couple of months ago after hearing of Simon seeking a good home for him, and he has been the perfect addition to our family! Sadly we are relocating off Eylandt and are not sure if he will survive a Darwin bound relocation – mixed feelings about what will be best for him (readopted to another great individual or family, or take the risk and take him with us).

    1. Oh my god… what are the chances! It was actually Simon who I was living with, I met Blackie on my first day in Umbakumba and I miss his little face and floppy ear so much my heart hurts, I can’t believe he has a good home right now, this has made me so happy!!! I completely understand the doubt of relocating him…. he’s such a happy, independent puppy now and I don’t know how he would handle leaving the other dogs… but saying goodbye to him is so hard and maybe a loving family is all he needs… Thank you so much for sharing this news with me, I think about that dog all the time wondering if he’s ok 😂 and now I know!

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