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Nhulunbuy

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Nhulunbuy

Nhulunbuy
Northern Territory
Nhulunbuy is located in Northern Territory
Nhulunbuy
Nhulunbuy
Coordinates
Population 3,933 (2011 census)[1]
 • Density 552.4/km2 (1,430.7/sq mi)
Postcode(s) 0881, 0880
Elevation 20 m (66 ft)
Area 7.12 km2 (2.7 sq mi)
Location
Territory electorate(s) Nhulunbuy
Federal Division(s) Lingiari
Mean max temp Mean min temp Annual rainfall
30.8 °C
87 °F
23.3 °C
74 °F
1,305.3 mm
51.4 in
Sign at Gove Airport showing a map of Nhulunbuy and the Gove Peninsula.
Alumina plant at Nhulunbuy, June 2000
The old airport terminal at Gove Airport.

Nhulunbuy is the name of the township created on the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory of Australia when a bauxite mine and deep water port were established nearby in the late 1960s, followed by an alumina smelter.[2] At the 2011 census, Nhulunbuy had a population of 3,933 with a median age of 32 [1](note that for the purposes of granting tax rebates to residents of isolated areas as per Section 79A(3F) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 the census population of Nhulunbuy is taken to be less than 2,500). The closure of the alumina smelter in 2014 redeployed or made redundant 1,100 workers, substantially reducing this population.[3]

Contents

  • History 1
  • Mine closure 2
  • Climate 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

History

This area in Northeast Arnhem Land has been home to the Yolngu Aboriginal people for at least 40,000 years.

Matthew Flinders, in his circumnavigation of Australia in 1803, met the Macassan trading fleet near present-day Nhulunbuy, an encounter that led to the establishment of settlements on Melville Island and the Coburg Peninsula. A beach close to the township is named Macassan Beach in honour of this encounter.

In 1963, a Federal government decision excised part of the land for a bauxite mine to be operated by the North Australian Bauxite and Alumina Company (Nabalco). The Yolngu aborigines at Yirrkala were strongly opposed, and forwarded a bark petition to the Australian House of Representatives, which attracted national and international attention and which now hangs in Parliament House, Canberra.

When the government did not change its mind, the Yolngu took their grievances to the courts in 1971, in the case of Milirrpum v Nabalco Pty Ltd (the Gove land rights case). Yolngu lost the case because Australian courts were still bound to follow the terra nullius principle, which did not allow for the recognition of any "prior rights" to land to Indigenous people at the time of colonisation. However, the Judge did acknowledge the claimants' ritual and economic use of the land and that they had an established system of law, paving the way for future Aboriginal Land Rights in Australia.

The town of Nhulunbuy was then established, housing the workers and their families, who were employed by the Swiss Aluminium company. The mine is now owned by Rio Tinto who acquired Alcan in 2007. At one stage there were over 100 different nationalities present. Population during the 1970s rose to approximately 3,500 with 1,000 students at the combined primary and high school. In 1981 a new high school was opened.

In 1999, the first classes of the Nhulunbuy Christian College (formerly known as Nhulunbuy Christian School) were held at the local TAFE centre, and in 2001 the first building of the new school was completed. In 2007, the NCC Middle School was opened and in 2008 the combined year 8/9 Class was first established.

Permits are required to drive to Nhulunbuy — over 700 km of unsealed roads — so most supplies and visitors are brought by air to Gove Airport or by sea.

James Strong, who went on to be the CEO of Qantas, lived in the town at one stage when he was the head of the mine and port operations. Geoff Dixon, Strong's successor at Qantas, was also an employee.

Nhulunbuy is only 20 km from the Indigenous community of Yirrkala, famous for its Aboriginal art.

Mine closure

On 29 November 2013 Rio Tinto announced the closure of the alumina refinery (but not the bauxite mine) in July 2014 with the loss of 1,100 jobs, or almost 25% of the town's population.[3][4] The population had already dropped by mid 2014, with some of the workforce retained to monitor the shutdown and survey holding ponds full of toxic compounds but most will be gone by January 2015.[2][2] A range of measures were announced to support the town and its former workers through the closure and the following three years, but locals anticipate further cuts to services since the school, hospital, power plant and flights were backed by Rio Tinto.[5] The closure of the mine also left flights on the Darwin-Nhulunbuy route to fall to around 50-60% full, causing Qantas to suspend flights on the route from August 17.[6]

Climate

Climate data for Nhulunbuy
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 35.7
(96.3)
35.6
(96.1)
35.7
(96.3)
35.6
(96.1)
34.0
(93.2)
32.3
(90.1)
31.2
(88.2)
33.4
(92.1)
34.6
(94.3)
37.8
(100)
37.3
(99.1)
35.3
(95.5)
37.8
(100)
Average high °C (°F) 32.0
(89.6)
31.7
(89.1)
31.5
(88.7)
31.5
(88.7)
30.5
(86.9)
29.5
(85.1)
28.6
(83.5)
29.0
(84.2)
29.8
(85.6)
30.9
(87.6)
31.9
(89.4)
32.4
(90.3)
30.77
(87.39)
Average low °C (°F) 25.5
(77.9)
25.2
(77.4)
24.9
(76.8)
24.0
(75.2)
23.2
(73.8)
21.5
(70.7)
20.5
(68.9)
19.9
(67.8)
21.1
(70)
22.9
(73.2)
25.1
(77.2)
25.9
(78.6)
23.31
(73.96)
Record low °C (°F) 20.5
(68.9)
22.0
(71.6)
17.2
(63)
20.5
(68.9)
17.3
(63.1)
15.5
(59.9)
14.6
(58.3)
14.0
(57.2)
16.3
(61.3)
15.1
(59.2)
20.0
(68)
21.2
(70.2)
14
(57.2)
Rainfall mm (inches) 233.9
(9.209)
241.7
(9.516)
260.6
(10.26)
237.1
(9.335)
83.9
(3.303)
17.8
(0.701)
13.3
(0.524)
4.1
(0.161)
4.2
(0.165)
12.0
(0.472)
27.0
(1.063)
189.9
(7.476)
1,305.3
(51.39)
Avg. rainy days 15.1 15.6 15.5 12.5 8.9 5.7 4.4 2.2 1.2 1.6 2.7 9.7 95.1
Source: [7]

References

  1. ^ a b http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/quickstat/710252409?opendocument&navpos=220
  2. ^ a b c http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/11/-sp-boom-to-dust-uncertain-future-for-town-run-by-rio-tinto
  3. ^ a b Perry, Juliet (21 October 2014). "Voices from Gove: Can a mining town survive a shutdown?". BBC News. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  4. ^ McGrath, Pat (29 November 2013). "About 1,100 jobs cut as Rio Tinto suspends production at Gove alumina refinery in the Northern Territory".  
  5. ^ McGrath, Pat (29 November 2013). "Rio Tinto reveals rescue package for future of Nhulunbuy after alumina refinery closure".  
  6. ^ Tsang, Daniel (7 August 2014). "Qantas faces defining moment". Aspire Aviation. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "Nhulunbuy DTW". Climate statistics for Australian locations.  

External links

  • Alcan History of Region
  • Lirrwi Tourism Organisation
  • Gove Online — Information about Nhulunbuy and the Gove Peninsula
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