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WorldAustraliaNorthern TerritoryGove
Gove (Nhulunbuy)
Port of Entry
12°11.950'S, 136°42.270'E Chart icon.png
lat=-12.19917 | lon=136.7045 | zoom=14 | y

Gove, or Nhulunbuy as it is called, was established as a bauxite mine in the 1950's and 60's. Located in Arnhem Land in the far North East of Northern Territory.

Gove is the fourth largest in the Territory with a population of 4,000. The land is owned by the local Aboriginal people and is leased to Rio Tinto Alcan the mining company who own and operate the mine. Most, if not all of the residents of Gove are either directly employed by the mine or work in businesses that support the town and it's mining operations.

The town is accessible by a rough unsealed road in the dry season April to November but in the monsoon the 1,100 kilometers to Darwin of which 850 are unsealed become cut by many flooded creeks which means the daily air services to Darwin and Cairns (QANTAS and Air North) are the only way in or out on a reliable basis.

Gove is a modern town with most services available, with primary and secondary schools a large modern hospital several supermarkets, hardware stores and most of the facilities that a remote town needs.

With the second highest wage earning town in the Territory it has the most 4X4 vehicles and private boat ownership per person in the world. With a relatively young population Gove is a proud and friendly town and very welcoming place to visit.

Because the area is on Aboriginal land a permit must be obtained from the Dhimiru Land Council for all land based activities also a permit must be obtained to purchase take away alcohol, this can be inconvenient for a cruising yacht and is expected to be the case throughout the Northern Territory in the future. Alcohol permits are free and must be obtained from the Department of Justice in Gove before purchasing.

Although Gove is almost on the beach it is not advisable to anchor off the town beach for any length of time as it is exposed to the persistent SE trades and if it is necessary to do so it would be strongly advisable that the skipper or someone capable remain on board to keep a watch on the weather. It is much more advisable to head around into Melville Bay.

There are careening poles in front of the yacht club which may be used at owners risk but once again it would be advisable to enquire before using. There is also water located on the careening poles which may be used to top up your tanks during high tide. For more serious repairs there is a slipway out on Drimmie Head which can handle vessels up to 20 tones and cater to most repairs.

The area around Gove has undoubtedly the most beautiful beaches in the Territory if not anywhere across the top, and the water visibility is amazingly clear regardless of the weather but as inviting as it looks the waters of the Northern Territory are full of crocodiles which must not be underestimated as they can pop up in the most unexpected places. They are often seen on clean white beaches on remote islands many miles offshore and are quite happy in a seagoing lifestyle so the cruising yachtie must not become complacent. Also this area has numerous wild Asiatic water buffaloes which wander freely from sun down to sun up and are often found right in the town and on the beaches, these animals are mostly placid but are capable of flying into rage and charging for no apparent reason and in recent years have killed people. If seen it would be prudent to move away quietly. A good piece of advise is if you need to seek a tree from a charging buffalo make it a big strong one.


Australian Hydrographic Service
AUS15 - Plans in the Northern Territory (plan C & D included on chart)
AUS306 - Cape Grey to Cape Wessel
AUS715 - Cape Arnhem to Cape Wessel


The weather in the Gove region has predominantly two seasons:

A wet season or NW monsoon season, December’ish to March’ish with November the hottest time of the year and the temperature remaining above 30c and often approaching the 40’s and with humidity which can only be described as oppressive. This is also the cyclone season. The wind for this time of the year is normally north to north West and it is persistently hot and humid and may be wet if the monsoon trough moves south and gives the top end it’s annual drenching. Keep an ear out for low pressure systems across the top, it is quite common for a cyclone which has developed in the Coral Sea off Queensland’s east coast to move westward quite quickly across Cape York, the Gulf of Carpentaria and across the Northern Territory and keep moving west into Western Australia.

A dry season; from March’ish to November’ish. The trade winds start to blow from the south east once the monsoon has moved back up north and the top starts to dry out. The south easterlies blow consistently throughout the year but are normally around the 10 to 20 knot mark, occasionally slightly higher but as a general rule fine and fare with the odd freshening throughout the year.

As a rule the best indication of the wind strengths across the top are indicated by the winter high pressure systems that move across the Great Australian Bight. A 1020mb high probably won’t effect the top much but a 1038mb high centered in the Bight around August most likely will. The highs are stronger in the winter and are often further north which is the windiest scenario The temperature for this time of the year is pleasantly warm and sunny, never cold and maybe even hot if there is no wind up a creek somewhere.

Because of the trades the best way to visit the Territory is to sail westwards into Arnhem Land with the SE trades around April/May at the earliest and sail back out eastwards with the NW trades October November.

Sources for weather information:



See Australia.




Gove is a port of entry for Australia. For details see Entrance: Australia.

Customs contact details
Boarding Officer
Customs House
Foreshore Dve,
Nhulunbuy NT 0880
Phone: 08 8986 8700
Facsimile: 08 8987 1116
Quarantine contact details
P.O. Box 108
Nhulunbuy NT 0881
Office hours: 08 8987 1136
After hours: 0438 803 209
Facsimile: 08 8987 1106

Boarding station for arrival

Melville Bay may shelter west of moorings in yacht club or as advised by Customs/AQIS
Port draughts
Deep water port subject to large tidal variations.


Marinas & Yacht Clubs

Gove Yacht Club

Gove Yacht Club/wiki/Gove#Gove_Yacht_Club
Berth icon Gove Yacht Club [[Gove#Gove Yacht Club|Gove Yacht Club]] 12°11.710'S, 136°42.400'E

The Gove Yacht Club is located in Inverell Bay inside Melville Bay, most of the year it is an excellent sheltered anchorage with over 100 vessels of all types anchored in front of the yacht club at any one time. The club and it's staff and locals are friendly and helpful to cruising yachts and it is a very convenient place to visit on the way across the top.

There is a small shop located within the club which caters to basic galley supplies to save the trip into town. The town is some 13 kilometers away for more substantial provisioning but most basics are available at the club. The Mini Mart is open until 16:00 daily. The trip in to Gove is around 13 kilometers and realistically too far to walk but cabs are available on Tel: +61 8 131008.

[email protected]; Tel: +61 8 8987 3077; Fax: +61 8 8987 2111; VHF channel 16 (10:00 - 22:00)
Address: Drimmie Head Road, Nhulunbuy NT 0880, Australia


Inverell Bay

Inverell Bay/wiki/Gove#Inverell_Bay
Anchorage icon Inverell Bay [[Gove#Inverell Bay|Inverell Bay]] 12°11.736'S, 136°42.293'E
In front of Gove Yacht Club. It is a secure & protected anchorage.


Water Water is available at the Perkins Wharf which is within Melville Bay and is not very yacht friendly as the piles are designed for larger vessels because of the SE trade winds that make the wharf exposed. However, it is possible to tie up to the inside of the wharf at high tide if larger quantities of fuel are required, before using this wharf it is advised to inspect it via dinghy first and check that no barges or ships are due to berth
Electricity ?
Toilets ?
Showers ?
Laundry ?
Garbage ?
Fuel Fuel is available at the Perkins Wharf which is within Melville Bay and is not very yacht friendly as the piles are designed for larger vessels because of the SE trade winds that make the wharf exposed. However, it is possible to tie up to the inside of the wharf at high tide if larger quantities of fuel are required, before using this wharf it is advised to inspect it via dinghy first and check that no barges or ships are due to berth.
Bottled gas ?
Chandlers There are no specific marine supliers in Gove but there are hardware and electrical supplies plus various other trades and suppliers. The daily air service to Cairns and Darwin means that most things are only one day away.
Repairs A slipway and ship repair service is located at Drimmie Head in Melville Bay
Internet ?
Mobile connectivity ?
Vehicle rentals Hire cars and 4X4's are available


Eating out

Give the name of recommended restaurant, tavernas, pastry stores, etc.


Gove has a small but modern jet airport and has regular daily flights to Cairns and Darwin International airports plus many charter flights to islands and communities in the area. The main carriers are QANTAS or Air North. There is no train or bus service to Gove



Give a short history of the port.

Places to Visit

  • The Aboriginal art at Yakala 20klm south of Gove is a must visit for those who appreciate indigenous art.


Contact details of "Cruiser's Friends" that can be contacted for local information or assistance.


List links to discussion threads on partnering forums. (see link for requirements)


  • Gove at the Wikipedia
  • Gove at the Wikivoyage


See Australia.


We welcome users' contributions to the Wiki. Please click on Comments to view other users' comments, add your own personal experiences or recommend any changes to this page following your visit.

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