Growing up in the Sticks! Nhulunbuy is where?

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I feel blessed to have grown up in the late 70′s and 80′s in a small remote community (3500-4000 people) called Nhulunbuy (pronounced Nool-un-boy), also referred to as Gove due to it’s location on the Gove peninsula at the northern tip of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. The town affords a perfect location right on the Arafura Sea, with pristine wilderness areas, islands, beaches and places that still hide ‘secret’ indigenous rock paintings.

Click on the picture to see much larger. Left you can see the Bauxite mine and to the right the small township of Gove

We moved from a small country town (Mount Gambier) in South Australia to Gove in 1979, and it was a choice of two available places where we could have grown up. As the story goes, my dad turned up at my nana’s house, and claimed that he had two job choices – Libya (to work in the oil industry) or Nhulunbuy, an unknown town in northern australia which had a new bauxite mine and refinery. My nana was naturally horrified at both options, especially Libya. And of Nhulunbuy, she said ‘they don’t have fresh milk there, and there are crocodiles’, in which my dad replied that the company did provide a video on how to deal with a crocodile encounter and what to do if a buffalo chased you! So the choice was made, and this choice determined our futures.Our journey to Gove was also our first experience on an aeroplane (in fact it took about 4 flights to get there in those days).

My dad accepted his employment at Nabalco, which provided our family with a house and support in settling. Nabalco (now Rio Tinto Alcan Gove) was a Swiss/Australian consortium that started mining 250 million tonne of bauxite deposit in the early 70′s (world’s largest) , and put Nhulunbuy (Gove) on the map as a new town. The Yolngu people from Yirrkala strongly opposed this mining but sadly, law did not at that time allow ‘prior rights’ to land to indigenous people.The area has been home to the Yolngu people and their ownership for atleast 60,000 years, with recognised land and marine estates. Today the Yolngu people retain cultural and spiritual links to the area. So to live in Nhulunbuy we had to have a permit.

Nabalco mine and refinery

My dad in the early 80’s

My mum, sister and me (blondie to the right)

When we arrived in this small community and town, which was built in the early 70s, were picked up and shown to our new house in Casuarina Avenue. A small stucco coloured plain rectangular dwelling (with breezeway), with a good sized yard, with lots of ferns, palms, banana plants, and a park right next door (which had swings). The following morning after arrival, my dad was to commence work at the refinery leaving my mum with my sister and I to settle ourselves in our new abode. On this very day mum discovered critters that we would soon be accustomed to. A huge green tree frog which made it’s home in the toilet, leaving mum to refuse to use it (instead going to the local shops to use the toilet) and big ‘horse’ size cockroaches that flew around the rooms, and the sounds of cicadas that were deafening in the wet season!

Our home in Casuarina Avenue

Playing totem tennis in our yard

The climate in Gove was tropical, and involved the dry season (May to October) which brought cool nights and fine dry days, and the wet season, one which is humid and hot with frequent showers and storms. On one occasion, the lady across the road came over and spoke to mum, advising her to fill up the bath tub with water and pull all the mattresses into the hall way, tape up windows and ensure we sleep all together that night. Well, mum did fill up the bath, but that was all. The neighbour asked the next day how did us kids go sleeping with them during the category 3 cyclone (gusts of wind up to 165km/hr), mum naive to what a cyclone was like said she made us sleep in our rooms!

I remember we had some interesting characters living next door! There was Ken, a Scotsman, who worked previously in the UK as a Queens Guard. He had a bad temper and could not mow a lawn, and evidently would get frustrated trying it (he would throw the lawn mower around). In the end my mum used to mow both ours and his front and back lawn – and he repaid her with a didgeridoo!. Then there was Lofty, as we knew him, 6 foot 7 and a police officer, whose wife taught my mum to fish. There was also a man who used to bake (only for my dad) apple strudels and bring them over.  On on occasion my sister and I brought inside the new neighbours to introduce to our mum who was in the bath! As you can imagine she was rather shocked to have us open the bathroom door and announce the newbies in the street!

The magic of Gove was not just unspoilt wilderness, and untouched hidden beaches, it was the community lifestyle. Not privy to the technologies of metropolitan cities (though we did have a television), it was the outdoor sports and activities, like fishing, camping, boating that got people together more. Everybody was friendly, everyone knew everyone, there was great camaraderie and always invitations to barbeques, fishing trips, or neighbour street parties. When mum and dad were working it was safe for us to wander to a neighbours or friend’s house, or the park next door where we would try and pulley ourselves up the tree, or make cubby houses out of sticks, or try and climb coconut trees.

I used to love the water, and the surf ski

I adored the natural environment. The beaches were filled with giant 50cm starfish, Baler and cone shells the size of a pawpaws, and lots of hermit crabs which I would play with and bring home as pets. We also had wild buffaloes that would clop around our front and back yard at night or day, and we would hear it slurping water from our small swimming pool. I also used to play with garden critters or plants, not realising I would be allergic!. I learned that I cannot touch furry catepillars (no matter how soft or beautiful they feel) or jacarandas because I break out in swollen eyes (leaving slits) and lumps on my face. But I became an expert at catching small lizards, skinks and blue tongue lizards, and also used to bath and towel off Green Ants.

East Woody Beach – a starfish

Wild buffalo next to our house, notice our dog watching it!

Green Tree Ants are common to Gove, they are also known as weaver ants, they have a green abdomen and yellow-green thorax (indigenous people eat their bottoms). They are aggressive ants and will inflict a painful bite and squirt formic acid from the tip of their abdomen – they do not sting, though. Somehow I never got harmed. These amazing ants weave leaves together to form their nest sometimes as big as a football!

The Green Ant or Weaver Ant

Here are some fond memories to share of places and events during my time in Gove:

The Aerator – anyone who lived in Gove during the same time, knows this place well. The Aerator was a hot water outlet (overflow) out of a bore, where the water was cooled underground for drinking. Everyone used to swim here! and it was full of tadpoles and I remember green slime in some places. But the fun part was sitting in the big part of the tank that spilled water into the water hole, it was like being in a spa without the bubbles! The adults would sit on the bank and relax with a beer or two! There was one occasion when mum was meeting another friend with her children here, and my mum being playful and bored thought she would bring Shampoo. She poured the shampoo into the overflow tank, and then was horrified as it turned the whole pool into one big bubble bath. One of the workers come along shortly after to read the meters, and asked who did it, my mother acted dumb saying we just got there and it was like that. Later in the local rag (Gove Gazette) it published a note saying some idiot put soap in the aerator!

The Aerator

Jacks Pool – this was the local swimming pool named after Jelly Bean ‘Jack’ who had a big round belly, and he’d give you a jelly bean if you swam all the way across the pool or did a whole lap. And to learn how to swim he’d push you in and yell swim! On one ocassion Lisa Curry, a famous swimmer of the 80’s visited, and we met her and got her autograph. Apparently Aussie olympic swimmer Geoffrey Huegill was born in Gove around the time I was living there too.

Gumbies – this was our takeway option of the 80′s and of Gove. By the locals it was affectionately called ‘chew and spew’ and was located undercover near tennis courts and the surf club. As a family we would go there to get fish and chips,dim sims and a chip bucket full of crumbed moreton bay bugs.

4 Wheel Driving – the roads were muddy, sandy and unsealed in most places, so my dad was pretty excited to have a 4 wheel drive to go off road and get bogged, and find new places to explore. The first vehicle we had was an orange two door suzuki, and he never thought about the comfort of us girls – nor seatbelts! We used to be in the back with Sarah our doberman dog, sitting on the wheel arches and holding on to a strap as we bumped up and down, left to right through treacherous 4 wheel drive tracks. I remember how uncomfortable it was! However, around the town, mum had a groovy little open top mini moke – with a flowery removeable top.

me and my sister with the Suzuki

Off road exploring

Camping was always fun in Gove, because there were so many hidden and secret places that people would find or explore, but not share with others. We once found an abandoned aboriginal community college that may have been used during WWI as a base, and everything was still intact. There were wonderful waterholes we would play in and flying foxes, and nothing beat a good old fashion marshmellow crackling and bubbling over the fire, and the stars in a clear sky.

Me helping dad with the tent 🙂

Salt Water Crocodiles– In the first two weeks of living in Gove, the neighbours invite mum and us girls away to a place called Dalywoi bay to go camping or fishing. My sister and I were in one of the beach canals enjoying ourselves, when an Army guy raced down to tell mum to get us girls out of the water because a 16ft crocodile just went past them, they were only a little further up from us. My mum was angry at our neighbour Lofty for saying it was safe to be in the water. He said it was full of crocodiles and they wouldn’t hurt us! then pointed out a moving stick in the water, a crocodile that was well known in the area, due to spear that was still stuck in him! On another occasion as a family we went to set up a fishing spot on a beach, only to have forgotten a rod or something like that, so we left and came back to find a crocodile in the spot – we simply waited for it to move on.

A salt water crocodile -An adult male saltwater crocodile’s weight is 600 to 1,000 kilograms (1,300–2,200 lb) and length is normally 4.1 to 5.5 metres (13–18 ft). The saltwater crocodile is an opportunistic apex predator capable of taking nearly any animal that enters its territory, either in the water or on dry land. They are known to attack humans who enter the crocodiles’ territory. When I lived in Darwin, and I had a horse at the stables, the aboriginal cattleman brought in a stock horse (one of two which survived) which they nursed back to health, it had a chunk of flesh taken from it’s hindquarters from a crocodile!

Yirrkala – this is a prominent well known indigenous community of 800 people, 18km from Gove, and is the is a traditional home of the Yidaki (didgeridoo). There is the Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre and Museum in Yirrkala, where you can buy and appreciate traditional aboriginal culture. When I was at school we not only used to be taught aboriginal verses of songs by our principal, but we also went on field trips where we would go out with elders in the bush and learn how to find wild honey from tree barks via tracking native bees, identify bush tucker and cook food under the ground. It was grounding and respectful to understand the indigenous cultures and what they knew about the land around them.

Yidaki

Dhamitjinya (East Woody Island) and Galaru (East Woody Beach) – this was one of our favourite beaches to explore. The island is a conical shaped granite peak that lies at the end of the East woody beach and is connected by the beach to the mainland. We used to wade out when the tides were out and had to ensure we returned before it come back in. I remember how we used to sunbathe on the huge big rocks, and how dad and I would go inside and explore vast caves. My mum used to sunbathe topless and would go around the island to find a secluded spot, however on one very rare occassion she was shocked when a fishing boat came round and saw her in all her glory..LOL.

Rainbow Cliff (Banambarrnga) – This is a sacred indigenous site – and my memories are of standing on this huge clifftop and looking below to see the body of a poor kangaroo who plunged over the top to the sand below.

Rainbow Cliff

Mount Saunders – this is a look out and registered sacred indigenous site. The interpretive signage around the lookout describes the recent history along with the story of Creation Ancestor Wuyal, known as the Sugarbag Man. We used to wind up the gravely road spiraling round and round to the top where you were afforded a beautiful view over the town.

view from Mount Saunders

Boating and Fishing – I certainly remember lots of trips out on the boat to small islands, and remember being frightened by huge jumping fish the size of the boat in the ocean. There was one little island that contractors had built a barbeque, hammock and makeshift seats, for people who came to fish or barbeque. I remember also a big swing set up which I love, and a Tamarind tree, where I would pick off the fruit and suck on the flesh ( I can even taste it now sour and fruity as I think it). There was also one occasion when we come back from boating and got near the wharf as the boat motor conked out! the sea was rough and I remember being scared. We had to climb up and be hoisted by oars to get onto the wharf!

An island we frequented

World War II relics – During World War II, the Gove Peninsula was a key in the defense of northern Australia and there are many remnants of this activity. Historic sites include Drimmie Head where the Catalinas landed in the bay and taxied onto land, remnants of an observation station and rocket tracking station. Yolngu people played a significant role in WWII as soldiers and bush guides in a special unit, and aided in monitoring Japanese intrusion. Many of the old airstrips, bunkers and aircraft wreckage can be seen around Nhulunbuy and throughout the region.

Me viewing one of the plane wrecks

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132 responses »

  1. For anyone reading my daughter Njaris legacy this page was started by her. Njari my beautiful girl passed away JULY 28 the 2016 The saddest day of my life. Losing a child has no words to express. Njari passed four weeks before her 40 the birthday. 😪

  2. Wonderful account of this special place – I moved there in 1984 , had my 3 daughters there, and have now moved back to Adelaide in 2012…. I’d forgotten about gumbies! The aerator was one of our favourite spots for the girls to paddle when they were very little – lovely to hear your childhood memories….my girls are adults now and they still talk with much fondness of their little home in the NT

  3. I grew up in nhulunbuy also early eighties through to late nineties. .such fond memories of the place. .thanks for the reminders!

  4. Fabulous article – Not much has changed. I moved there with my five young children in 2004, spent several years there before leaving and then returning in 2011 before leaving again at the end of 2015… My (now adult) children regularly tell similar stories (I have memories of waking up to my son dangling a magpie goose over my head, so proud that he’d been able to catch one for our close Yolngu friend) They can affirm it is such a beautiful and unique place to grow up.
    Even now, six months after leaving, I think of times, places, experiences, friends and the locals almost everyday… And am certain that I will return and spend more time there.

  5. I reckon it’s still the best gig in the world … We have begun our 15th year here and your article was a delight! We are proud to be the current occupants of 3 Casuarina Avenue!!! It is somewhat changed, with some extensions over the decades – but it’s heart remains!!!
    You will know, of course, that the operation is significantly reduced now, and it is a little while since I have spotted a buffalo in town … But we go on!

  6. Pingback: Growing up in the Sticks! Nhulunbuy is where? | With love, from Josephine.

  7. Hi!
    I love this post and read it over and over 🙂
    What’s your name? You were in Gove at the same time as me but are just a few years older maybe. I’m not sure.

    I was born in Gove in 1981.. Your house was my friend Kelly’s house. My house was 1 Duranta Close. I went to her house and played in her breezeway most days with a chalk drawn hop scotch or a skipping rope. Sounds so innocent now. Or our cabbage patch dolls!!

    Thank you for writing this. It is a beautiful way to look back at Gove just as I remember it.

    X

  8. Thank you so much for the memories and the laughs my family moved here in the early 70’s it was a great life growing up here. I now am back living and working here as an adult trying to tell people just how it was. There isn’t may Govites left here now and it has changed in so many ways.

  9. Well now they are closing down the place we all call home …. But our memories and your wonderful article will live on. Thank you for the memories…what lucky people we all
    are to have them!!!!

    • So Vanessa ..I have just retired from teaching in a British school in Saudi Arabia!!! I have enjoyed my chosen career …NPS is the best of all my teaching memories!!!!!xx

  10. I loved reading this. It was like travelling back in time:) Gove resident from 84 to 95. Did the best of my life lessons and growing up there. But will always be home in the heart. Thank you 🙂 Carolyn May

  11. Thankyou for the great trip down memory lane. It’s an excellent read 🙂 I hope you don’t mind me pointing out that in the 3rd image (aerial of gove) that it’s the red mud ponds on the left, not the bauxite mine 🙂
    Thanks again for a wonderful read. I hope you defeat the illness you’re battling. All the best.

  12. We lived in gove from 79 for 31 wonderful years two children born there Jennie and Peter and we moved there from Sydney with two children Stephanie nd jon. We remember your family as your father was in norforce with my husband. Great memories in your story. A great place to live and bring up children. Carol
    Jankowski.

  13. I remember you Njari. We were in Year 4 Mr Neighbour’s class together!! I recall you gave me a plaster of paris model of maybe Mickie Mouse which you had painted for me before your family left Nhulunbuy. What a lovely trip down memory lane. Thanks heaps. I hope all is well 😊

  14. Great story, brought back many memories! I lived there from 1972 til 81 we lived in contractors village a few times… Family owned the snack bar near the tennis courts, my mum cleaned gove house, our friends owned the bakery, my aunty willy n uncle roger lived there for over 30 years and knew everyone… Hung out a lot at the speedway, I worked at yirrakala mission serving chips chicken n coke to footy teams after their game….. Lots of memories horrible frozen packed veggies n milk that came in bags chasing buffaloes and pet frogs.

  15. Well written, loved Gove – born and bred and left after the birth of my first child to my now husband who was also born in Gove! Such is a beautiful place, loved going to the beach every weekend catching mud crabs with my bare hands and asking if I could keep them as pets, mum would always say yes and I would find her cooking it up for dinner that night!! :-S everywhere is within walking distance – or running distance if you’re caught in a lightening storm 😉 My much loved hometown since 1982. Raelene (Spears)

  16. How fantastic. What a great trip down memory lane, and even reading through people’s comments, there are so many familiar names. Moved there with my parents (Brian & Bev) and sister (Lauren) in 1977. My name is Deb Pearcey and I was 7 years old. Gove shaped me into who I am today. I was a bit of a ratbag, but God I lived, and. I never hurt anyone else that I know of. I left in 1987 because my parents were convinced I was going to marry Richard Passmore at 17 (they probably weren’t far off), and moved to Perth. I LOVED that place, and every memory you describe is as if its my own. Thank you.

  17. Thanks for the great read. I was born in Nhulunbuy in 83 but unfortunately we moved away when I was only about 4.

    I have limited memories but would love to go back there some day. I just remember getting in lots of trouble for climbing in the bath that had been filled for a cyclone.

    Rhys Cooper
    Born in Nhulunbuy 1983

  18. I lived at 11 Lillipilli. From approx 1984 – 1993 when I left. I am still in contact with most of my childhood Gove friends on Facebook!
    Such a wonderful write up and I will be showing it to all my friends when talking about where I grew up.
    Myriam Stajkowski 1978 – 1993

  19. We lived here from 1975 to 1977 in Contractors Village. My hubby worked at the butchers Shop Northmeats it was called in those days. We got married there in 1975. So many wonderful memories

  20. Hi Anne,
    thank you, bought back great memories, particularly the part about Yirrkala. Born there in 1968. Attended the area School until leaving for University. It was a fantastic place to grow up. Remember fondly the lifestyle and have great memories of most of places in the article. Fishing, motorbikes, waterholes and beaches and been outdoors almost all the time are all fantastic memories. I was one of five and given the timelines you may have known my younger brother Mark.

    Thank you for the trip down memory lane
    Andrew Albert

  21. I still think we were very lucky to grow up in Nhulunbuy and have lots of great memories and photos.
    I also still have family and friends there. We arrived in 1972 and lived in Lillipilli Cl in Nhulunbut West.
    I can also remember walking out our front door and coming face to face with a buffalo. Great website.
    Terry Moll

  22. Hi Njari, We came to Gove in 1974 and there was no TV or radio. We use to watch John Wayne movies on Wallaby beach. It was quite an adventure for me, as I come from Epsom in UK. I must admit that I didn’t like the heat in the wet season, and would often think of those lovely cold winter days in UK – thank goodness for the air conditioning! I remember Lofty and his family, and we use to go camping with them and other policemen. We had a buffalo come into our garden too. I remember going fishing which I loved. The fish was so delicious, but my favourite was the Morton bay bugs, which we bought from the trawlers. Peter had a wonderful childhood, and I know he has such fond memories of Nhulunbuy. Do you remember Glen Young and Martin Belsuko, two good friends of Peter? I can remember so many of his friends faces, but forget the names now. When I look back I will always remember them as little kids. I was 21 years old when I came to live in Gove, and after 13 years, I wanted to get back to the world, and Peter to experience a different side of life. I also missed my family and the UK. We left in 1987 back home to UK. I shall always have fond memories of Australia, and think of it as my second home. I met some lovely people, and had lots of fun. Peter lives in Thames Ditton, Surrey which is not far from London – he is a city boy now! He is married with a 5 year old son called Harrison. Peter works for Santander bank, but it is to do with the car side of their business. Are you or your sister married? I cannot remember your sister’s name. Love to you and all your family. x

    • Hi Anne,
      I can only imagine what a shock Gove would have been to a young English rose :). I have almost a photographic memory of my time in Gove, even your house! I remember the unique taste of Morton Bay bugs, even though I have probably never had them since, these things stay with you. I remember the faces of class mates and some of their names. It was such a great childhood. My sister Davina is married for the third time, and has 4 children. I have been married but I divorced 5 years later, I don’t have any children and currently battling a serious illness which impacts my life like I never had dreamed. I have fortunately lived a great life and will continue so, I have travelled overseas and seen many things I dreamed of. I’m heading to the US for a white christmas this year (another little wish). How wonderful that you are a grand mother! Please give my best regards to Peter. :Love to you all too xo

  23. G’day all peoples that lived in Gove from ’72 – ’83
    I lived in South, on Chippis Rd.
    You have boought up so many kewl memories for me…if all kids these days could experience what we have maybe they wouldn’t be such little shits.
    Some people I remember Kathryn Nuske, Jeremy Anderson, Nicholas Strong, Tracey Taylor, Linda Newton, Andrea Mozzie Crouch, Raywn Huddy, Brad Sullivan, Gareth Vogel, Louise Pointer,
    My name is Marty Ermer
    Look me up on FB

  24. What a great story and great photos, bought back so many memories! My family moved to Gove in 1975 when I started year 3 – we left nearly 7 years later when I finished year 9. I’ve never stopped thinking of all the great times we had in Gove, it’s still my favourite place. We lived in Grevillea Close and I shared great childhood times with our neighbours the Jenkins, O’Gormans and Mitchells. All those times down at the bauxite patch riding our bikes, building cubbies in the bush, catching guppies down at the swamp, cutting through everyones yards and jumping fences to get where we wanted to go! So many great memories of camping at cape arnhem with the Tuplins. And dare i admit to the very bogan behaviour of roof rocking as we got older ! (Sorry again Mr Bud!!) We were all so lucky to grow up in such a wonderful place.
    Jenny Banfield

  25. A trip down memory lane! It’s like a diary of the first 7 years of my life! Was born there in ’75, moved to Darwin in `83. We have a tamarind tree at the front of our home here in Darwin and when it is in fruit my girls and I sit on the gutter and eat them like lollies! And I showed the girls (3 & 5) how you can eat green ants bums, now we can’t walk past anything with green ants on it without them having to stop for a feed!!! How blessed we are to have lived in such a unique region of Australia!

  26. My husband moved there in 1981 – 1997 great memory’s he knows a lot of people, my husband was asked on his training day with 46 other work mates what place do you call home. He calls Gove home.Gary Pengelly

  27. Hi Njari!
    I showed my parents and they said we lived on the road next to Casurina Drive and I used to play in that park next to your house too! Our road was Duranta Close – you could walk to the primary school by going down our road and across the oval. We lived across the road from the Loftuses. Your article brought back so many memories of Gove days! It really was a magical place to grow up.

  28. Great article! I’m going to print it for my parents. I haven’t been back since 1993, but was born there in 81 and had a great time swimming at the aerator, and ate a few green tree ants bottoms too. Haha. 81-93.

  29. wow, definitely reminded me of a few things I forgot over the years… went back a few years ago…. most definitely different but still the same lovely people! 81 – 94

  30. Wow this bought back so many vivid memories. Is amazing how many people have similar stories of their family moving them there as kids. I wish I could let my kids grow up in this type of environment where you were safe to spend the whole day away from your house with your bike and your friends. Would love to take my kids for a visit to show them the old stomping grounds. 1976-1994

  31. Wow fantastic!!! Loved reading your story. Brought back so many fond memories of Gove Great place to be in the 80s . Thank you x

  32. Made a few typos in a reply sorry, excited lol…hey, remember the fishing , now they were REAL FISH , miss that part a lot, the lee point area too near the old abandoned caravan park..great sunbaking place of mine, had a few hidey places lol.the days when the funeral would be held of a passing of aboriginal clan member and road closed off and to hear the sounds of them chanting and playing didgeridoo and clap sticks etc, also still have a set cataloged from Yirrkala…the abandoned college way out of town to remote beaches, cant remember the name of it..the old quarry was used at times to swim in..no traffic lights etc…it was so easy to keep a child a child if you get what one means as outside influences weren’t there it allowed a kid to grow up to learn explore.The closeness of people.

    • Hi Joan It’s Geri Jensen What a blast from the past and so good to read everyone’s responses to living and growing in such a wonderful place filled with freedom and adventures (1987 – 1991)
      We did a fantastic Territory trip with our 3 beautiful girls in 2009 to show them where we’d lived & played from Alice to Borroloola to Nhulunbuy to Darwin We were in Gove for our youngest Jaimee’s 21st birthday Loved being there again and a trip that will forever live in our family’s folklore of special memories’ Hope you and yours are happy and healthy

      Thanks Njari for the memories

  33. Such a faraway place and yet so many people have lived there…it amazes me. my parents lived there…3 Casuarina…next to the park for 8 years. Maybe the same house! It is such a special special place.

  34. the waterhole, rock shelf, town lagoon, ski beach, buffalo creek. nice places for an eight year old boy to spend 22 years growing up in.
    Don’t worry about throwing soap in the Aerator we threw a bottle in the fountain in front of the Old Darwin Police station and blocked the whole intersection of once.
    Nice Story Siannaphey, you have some talent.
    Adrian Whelan

    • lol so you werent the ONLY prankster in Nhulunbuy , he he, I worked at the Nhulunbuy police station for roughly 4yrs answering phones, cleaning etc, and boy the pranks that I gave to those guys in there to get them back for the ones they did to me are mostly unprintable due to maybe getting into a LOT of trouble for some…but I feel i can NOW OWN up to NEW YEARS EVE one time where spent money brbing kids to blow ballooons up filling courthouse, as I had keys and cleaned that too.But not just a few this was massive, Soooooo MICK BRENNAN and another officer knew SOMEONE would do something, but waited etc 9ME, WENT TO EVEN GETTING WIG LONG HAIR ETC , and sneaking pat to see which side of station they were guarding lol, cool, they were on side they couldnt see me, soooooo told the few prisoners in cells if they said anything the bad witchman would curse them if they spoke of it…anyway I TOTALLY COVERED TWO PATROL 4 WHEEL DRIVES IN BALLOONS AND STREAMERS TO FLOW FROM BACK REAR, it turns out apparantly when they had a call out they had to jump up quickly only to have to drive looking like clowns in coloured vehicles , using wipers to see. lol lol. they spoke of it when I was at work and said good one who ever they were but we looked like f…..g clownd driving to a job, me just acted sypathetic , you deserved it guys after one prank in particular on me lol lol payback ahhhhhh great !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Makes me homesick although we only had the pleasure of living there for 9 years (1995-2004).
    Great photos and stories to match.
    Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

    Anne and Lachie Crabbe

  36. Beautiful to read your lovely comments and look at familiar photos. It was only a special part of our lives from Oct 88 to Nov 91. Think your girls look similar ages to our eldest boys but have three.
    Noelene, Bill, Matthew, Travis and Kurt Armstrong!

    • Hi Noelene, I’m actually one of the girls ;), I’m 36 now but I lived here from kindergarten and left year 4. I had the best time growing up here and we always talk and share our stories from Gove, because we were so lucky to live that lifestyle 🙂

  37. What a wonderful story. Not only did you tell it so well, you told it so accurately. Brought back do many memories if my 24 wonderful years in Gove. Thanks.

  38. A wonderful story of the heart and you summed up the life in Gove perfectly. It brought back all the wonderful memories of our 28 years in Gove (1972 2000) and the birth place of our two sons Justin and Brian Matthews. Truly a heavenly place for children to grow up.

    • Thanks so much, Davina and I (Njari) lived over the road from you and were friends with Justin and Brian. We loved our neighbourhood get togethers in the park and at each others houses :)!!

      • Hi Njari, it was a long time ago but I do remember your name as it is very unusual but it’s a lovely name. Yes you moved into that house after the Aldcrofts left. Being the sensitive that you are I’m sure that you would have perceived Gove to be very spiritual, I know I did. We left in 2000 and have returned twice. The town feels different in one way as it has all the technology of our times and yet it felt like time had stood still when I was walking through the town and streets. Our street pretty much looks the same except there are signs up in the park that you will be fined if you drink alcohol there. May I ask pls What were your Mum & Dad’s names and their Surnames as we recognise your Dad in the pic…it might jog a few more memories for us and do you still live in Aus? We live between the GC and Brissy; Brian lives in Paddo Brissy married and he has one son. Justin lives in Auckland. I’m interested in your blog too. Take care. Cheers 🙂

      • Hi Marion 🙂
        Absolutely loved Gove’s energy, it was so dear to me and even as a young girl I was sensitive to all that surrounded me, and I think that made writing about it so much easier, it feels as real as yesterday for me. Mum and Dad’s names – Barbara and Peter Johnson. Both live here in Perth. Mum lives with me and Dad lives not far and is married and has two other daughters :). I noticed Davina (my sis) and another Gove friend are friends with Justin on Facebook, so I might say hi! I remember little things..like how your family went on holidays to Bali and your boys bought these stylish colourful 80’s jackets I think ha-ha! and us girls were thinking it was SOOO cool!! Thanks for being interested in my blog too!! I’ve been on quite a journey so far! warm wishes xo 😀

      • Interesting to hear another “Davina”. My sister was born in Gove (we lived there from 82-96), and her name is Davina. Such an unusual name, so great to hear it twice from the one small town 🙂

  39. wow absolutely loved reading that blog. It is just how all Govites would remember it :). I have been living here since the early 80’s and still here to this day. Even some of the places in your photo’s are still the same 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing sometimes we forget to apappreciate the beauty of this little piece of paradise
    Cheer
    Maree

  40. I left in 2004.The worst day of my life.i didn,t have a lot of friends in gove.but i loved it so much all my family lived and died there.It hade a real romance and wildness about it.When i die i will be put with my family in gove once again.loved your piece.stevein gove 1972 till 2004.,except for a few years.

  41. You described it well. I arrived when I was three and left when I was 13.
    I have find memories of playing soccer and going to Darwin, Katherine, Mt Isa and Weipa for soccer competitions.
    Riding my bike to school and reversing upon finding a buffalo on the dirt track.
    Playing in the torrential but warm rain.
    I’ve had a great life living in many different parts of Australia but part of me wants to be back here now.
    Paul Hage
    1971-1981

    • Like you Paul, I have moved around Australia, but I still feel I am from the NT, because the wildness just resonates with me and the memories are just too wonderful!!

  42. Hi it was like running Down memory lane reading your blog, I too live in casuarina ave but left that street in 79 and looking at ur photo make me think that was our house as there was a vacant block beside us, but all the houses were so similar or the same who knows 🙂 this has brought back some wonderful memories thanks

  43. Thanks for that, it brought back so many memories…..we went there in 1970 and my brother and his family are still there. My own daughter was born there in 1977 as were my nieces and nephews, and my great nephew. My Mum passed away about 5 years ago, and we have her ashes buried up there over looking Town Beach.

    • Hi Carolyn. This is John and Margaret. We were in Gove and were friends with your Mum and Dad. We lived at 2 Thunderman Rd. and kept in touch with them after leaving Gove in 1974. We lived in Penrith and called on you once at your flat to say hello. We last saw your Mum at Bunderberg and had a lovely day catching up on all the years. Very sad when we heard she had passed away, (Jim rang and told us) but we are happy to hear that she is watching out over Town Beach. Would love to hear what became of Charlie as we have many fond memories of him as well. We now have retired and moved to Grafton. Is David still in Gove and what became of Scott and Kathy. Do hope to hear from you……… Margaret Barkley

      • Hello Margaret…good to hear from you….Unfortunately Dad passed away in March and Jim has since passed away in August. David is still there, and Scott is up there doing some work for Col Manfield. Cathy is living in Brisbane and I am still in Bundaberg. It’s been a pretty bad year for us…Dad was pretty sick though……Carolyn Mitchell

  44. Wow, I think a lot of kids bought up in gove had a very similar life as yourself! I really enjoyed reading bought back many memories!
    I was a 90′ baby and loved nhulunbuy!

  45. Thanks for sharing! Sitting here reminiscing and seeing all the places I grew up with haha, and trying to work out who this is as I was there in the 80s as well haha

  46. Great trip down memory lane, this was my childhood too we were there 77-85. What a place to grow up, we had quite a few visits from Buffalos, either peeing in our driveway or chewing up our garden LOL

  47. Thanks for sharing your memories. Memories many of us share. It will always be home for me. 1974 to 2008. I grew up there and my son was born there. He too still calls it home and misses it.
    Jackie Newton

  48. Great place to grow up, sadly havn’t been back since I left when I was 21 after being there from a little tacker 🙂 I miss it still and often dream about it. I was terrified of the buffalo and was once rescued from one by my father after a friend ran all the way home to tell him I was being gored to death! I wasn’t! LOL! There were so many wonderful things that happened in that town that made it into a really cool place to live and to grow up. Wonderful to read through your descriptions and see your pics and remember 🙂 Jo-Anne Harris nee Summerville

  49. Thank you so much for the memories, you describe Gove just the way I remember
    it, right down to the bloody uncomfortable 4wd Suzi and Mini Moke. Will always be home. 1978-1996

  50. That was some good reading,i agree totally that its a safe place to live.Even more now they cull the buffs but it was cool watching them chew the grass out the front of the plant.Been here since 1998 & love it.Was the island you used to frequent one of the granites islands,the pic looks like one of the beaches there but the tree is long gone.

    • HI Peter,
      Thanks for validating and sharing information on how things are now. I do remember Granite Island and we used to visit there, but I’m not sure what island we use to boat it out too, I only remember it had a Tamarind tree and swing and basic camping set up, and I was young so names of areas escape me a little. I would love to see the place now :). Glad you enjoyed my reminiscing !!

      • The photo you have posted (an island we frequented) looks like it was Drimmie Head. I remember we used to go there regularly for bbq’s.

      • Oh I wonder if it was Drimmie Head, I cannot remember some names, because these memories are from up to around age 9ish! with parents sharing tidbits as prompts 🙂

  51. Yep, those were the days! Go Gove.
    We were so lucky to grow up there. Thanks for the walk down memory lane – i still have an aversion to green tree frogs – i look in the toilet before i go to this day!
    Kylie Sherwin
    Govite 1978-1985

  52. You certainly painted a vivid picture of what it was all like! I loved it! It so reminded me of my young years in Panama when my Dad was in the Army and we lived in an apartment on stilts and I got to play with huge frogs and parrots and monkeys we captured in the jungle just beyond our 6 ft. yard. We had two seasons….the rainy season and the dry season (it only rained once a day in the dry season). When we sailed into New York when I was five and it was cold, I was very confused. The only cold I knew about was in the refrigerator so I thought that everybody in New York had left their refrigerators open…that was the only way I could imagine it being cold outside! One of my most horrifying nights was the night that the 3 jungle cats were climbing my monkey’s cage just outside of my window to get to him in his safe box at the top. We had no screens and the windows were open. My parents had just told me that there were no monsters in my closet and that all of those scary sounds were in my head. I heard the growls and told myself it was just in my mind….until the neighbor shot at the cats trying to come into my window. My parents did not get rid of me from their bed for a long time after that!

    • Wow Karen, what an experience you had, sounds incredible!! Nhulunbuy also has two seasons -wet and dry exactly as you describe :). Maybe you will write about your Panama early years one day 🙂 thank you so much for reading and sharing here. Love and blessings

  53. We moved there in 87 and left in 95. Our children Stacey and Chris still think of Gove as home, when talking about those years growing up. They were 3 and 5 when we arrived. We had 8 wonderful years enjoying all those things you wrote about.
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane………………

    Cheers,
    Lorraine Bray

  54. Nhulunbuy was a place I instantly recognised as paradise and spent a short 8 yrs there, lucky enough to know many of those places you mentioned and even more lucky to have married the man of my dreams at Cape Arnhem, Nanydjaka~ Twin Eagles…. My heart will always belong there xx

    • Hi Ramona – Audrey Lyttle – I remember that wedding day so well – Adrian Wagg flew us all out to Twin Eagles were we walked along the waters edge to conduct the wedding & then Adrian flew me back to Nhulunbuy – circling over Dalawoy Bay we saw crocodiles from the air & lots of the countryside. Hope you are well (17/11/15)

  55. This is a great story, well done. It will touch any Goveite past or present.
    I arrived in 1975 and am still in this beautiful and unique part of the world.
    One of the lucky ones *-)

  56. Thank you for such a wonderful jounrey down memory lane. I lived there from 82-96, and there is a certain magic to the land that I wish I could find again.
    Vanessa

  57. Oh wow how awesome. I too lived there where I was about 6/ 7 we lived there for two years I went to school there and I went to yirrakala. I ate my first sardine from an aboriginal boy I have never forgotten that!
    I would love to find some friends I went to school with. Best time of my childhood. My step dad was a manael arts teacher at the high school. Thank u for bringing back some find memories of buffalo green ants and eating there bums haha and mango trees and camping. 🙂

  58. I will always call gove my home it’s great to see alot of other people enjoy it as much as I did and that story tops it off great story and memory’s.
    Nathan Smith

  59. That was lovely to read – yep lots of great memories. Was there ’72-’86. Great description of everything and still feels like home. Thank you.

  60. Thank you for reminding of all the great times. My kids grew up in Nhulunbuy and we well remember all the mentioned places. It is a great place to raise kids. Judy Harvey

  61. thank you so much for your piece,an awesome read,could hear,taste and smell the memories as I read your story…Goveite from 75 – 93, still call it home and ALWAYS will,I just want to go back now…thanks again!

  62. Thank you for your piece,such a good read and so many wonderful memories,which I felt as I read!Goveite 75 -93 and it will ALWAYS be home,still have family there,really makes me want to return,thanks again!

  63. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I was born there in 1978 and enjoyed 21 more years of freedom in paradise. I still refer to Nhulunbuy as home and that will always be the way 🙂

    • Shannon, you won’t remember, but we remember you being born! Our parents – Brian & Bev Pearcey – were best friends with yours. Actually caught up with them a few years ago at Mums during their visit to Perth. Glad life is treating you all well. Deb x

  64. That was excellently written,our two children still live up there as do our 6 grandchildren,I would be back there tomorrow,just love the place,made many good friends there,it’s beauty is really wonderous thanks for sharing

  65. Loved your story and photos, I lived in Gove from 1979 to 2009, your photos brought back lots of old memmories, very well writted
    Cheers

    Emma McDowall (Hislop)

  66. You certainly summed up living in Gove in that era. I arrived in 1969. My three kids live here as do eight of my grandkids…still living the dream. We love it. Well written and loved the photos. All the best, Jenny Laverty

  67. Loved reading your story and enjoyed the trip down memory lane. We lived in Nhulunbuy 1977 to 1980 and it was a magical place to grow up. We too have live all over Australia and agree Gove remains a magical place in our hearts.

  68. Nice story and pics. We had an orange minimoke with a sunflower top in gove too. Loved that car, always thought I’d inherit it only to come home one day and find it gone, sold. Sad day, lol! I always tell people, hey you grew up with cows and sheep, I grew up with buffaloes and crocodiles! Wonderful place. 🙂

  69. I agree 🙂 That story and photo’s brought back a lot of great memories, thankyou so much for sharing it with all of us 🙂

    SGT Paul Bean
    Australian Army
    Afghanistan

    Goveite 1974 – 1988

      • G’day Mrs Harvey,

        It’s great to hear from you, thank you very much for your wishes 🙂
        We’re all doing well here, reading this story and seeing the photos brought back some great memories and just makes what we’re doing here mean so much more.
        If we can help provide these people the same opportunities we had growing up in Gove, the world would be nicer place to live in. It’s not until you see it first hand that you understand how lucky we had it growing up in such a great place like Gove 🙂

        All the best to everyone,

        Paul

  70. Hi ! you’ve pretty much summed up the place and it really hasn’t changed that much at all, especially the places you mentioned for fishing and camping. I still live in Gove, I’ve been here since 1972, it’s a beautiful home and I’ll never leave ! Cheers, Kay Barnes.

    • Thanks Kay!! I grew up there, and whilst it was a long time ago, and I have moved all over Australia, it’s Gove that fills a happiness, and wonderful memories in me, always!! Thanks for reading this and enjoying it.

      • Hi came upon your website and it brought back lots of happy memories. We were friends with your mum and dad and our son Peter Smith (who was born in Nhulunbuy in 1976) use to play with you and your sister. We even came to see you in Adelaide when you moved there. How time flies by! Your mum and dad would remember Anne and Russell Smith.

      • Hi Anne
        Of course I remember you all very well, and times shared in Adelaide at Prospect. Peter was a really good friend of mine, and I remember being sad when you left. Where are you all now? I recall from Dad I think (as he has had contact with Russell from time to time) that Peter was married and in London (in the medical field?).
        Kindest regards
        Njari Johnson

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