Wurrumiyanga is on the south-eastern tip of Bathurst Island, on the Apsley Strait. The community was previously known as Nguiu.

The island is scenic with many sandy beaches and surrounded by blue seas. The Aboriginal people speak Tiwi, although English is spoken as a second language by most people on the islands. 

Bathurst Island, the home of the Tiwi people for thousands of years, was first sighted by Europeans in 1644 when Abel Tasman passed by on his way from Batavia. In 1818, Phillip Parker King, the son of NSW Governor Philip Gidley King, explored the island and named it after Lord Bathurst.

The influences on Bathurst Island’s development took a new turn with the arrival of German missionary, Bishop Francis Xavier Gsell in 1910. Gsell was a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. In 1906, Gsell was the Apostolic Administrator of the Northern Territory and persuaded the South Australian Government to give him about 4,000 hectares of land on Bathurst Island to build a mission in 1911. He gradually earned the Islanders’ trust, particularly through improved health care.

In World War II, the mission sighted the Japanese bombers on their way to bomb Darwin on 19 February 1942, but the warning was dismissed as a mistaken sighting of allied aircraft. In 1978, the ownership of Bathurst Island was formerly handed back to the Tiwi people and today the island is run by the Tiwi Land Council.

General Policing

The Wurrumiyanga police district is Bathurst Island, the smaller of the Tiwi Islands of Bathurst and Melville. Wurrumiyanga members are responsible for the day-to-day policing of Bathurst, with general duties, traffic campaigns and marine enforcement.

Bathurst is an Alcohol Restricted Zone under the Liquor Act, however police still deal with alcohol related incidents as liquor is permitted at two licensed clubs or by permit. Police also deal with substance abuse in the community.

Other police duties include motor vehicle registration, courts, collection of fines, civil debts and civil document service. Members often help with illegal fishing patrols search, rescue, and coordinate counter disaster operations.
Police and community interaction is strong, with a number of community based initiatives in place to moderate alcohol consumption.

General Services

There is a childcare centre, Centrelink agency, EFTPOS, bank agency, post office, social club, church, community transport and workshop facilities. Members open accounts at Darwin supermarkets and have the bulk of their groceries freighted. There are two community owned stores in Wurrumiyanga that stock a wide variety of food and general items.


The Murrupurtiyanuwu Catholic School caters for junior students through to high school, however the education is structured to meet the needs of Aboriginal students. Xavier College and Tiwi College cater for secondary school aged children.


The health service at Julinamawu Health Centre is run by Tiwi Health Board under the Tiwi Coordinated Care Trial, which is a joint commitment by the Australian Government and the Northern Territory Government. The health service also provides a couple of days per week service to Melville Island communities.

Recreation Activities

There are good facilities including a swimming pool, sports and recreation hall and a football oval. The Tiwi Islands Football Grand Final attracts national coverage each year. There are excellent camping, fishing and hunting options available to members.