Garma Festival of Traditional Cultures

Event Info

Garma 2021, Friday 30 July - Monday 2 August

Garma is a celebration of the cultural, artistic and ceremonial traditions of the Yolngu people. Each year 2,500 guests from across the nation are immersed in the rich cultural traditions of their Yolngu hosts, experiencing miny'tji (art), manikay (song), bunggul (dance) and ancient story-telling, as we pride ourselves in showcasing the treasures of the mighty Yolngu clans.

Over four days guests camp at Gulkula, a significant ceremonial ground, remotely located 40 kilometres on an unsealed red dirt road, from Nhulunbuy in northeast Arnhem Land.

Since 1999, the Yothu Yindi Foundation has staged the annual Garma Festival, which has evolved from a small community gathering to what now is widely considered Australia's leading Indigenous-led cultural exchange event and premier forum for discussion of Indigenous affairs.

Garma has the remarkable ability to transcend colour, creed, race, and many of our supporters recognise how remarkable this unique ingredient is to shape our nation’s future. Our programming will explore difficult conversations in order to find solutions to better manage a brighter future for our nation. You will not be disappointed with the dialogue; you’re guaranteed to finish your day with a new perspective or often some feel inspired by keynote addresses and motivational speakers.

This is where the melting pot of Australia’s Indigenous leaders gather and build momentum from within the Indigenous space unlike any other - completely determined by Indigenous people themselves.

Garma proves that Indigenous Australia is vibrant, where we lead by example & use the powerful Garma platform to share with you some of the complexities that are often fraught inside communities across this nation.


Garma Ticketing Structure and Pricing

Our ticketing structure is designed as an all-inclusive package. Discounts will not be issued to those who choose to attend only a portion of the event. Event access is available from Thursday afternoon.  We accept Visa and Mastercard, direct bank transfer, payment plan (fees and charges apply) and invoice (fees, charges and restrictions may apply)

Adult Pass

$2,503.00 per person 

Four-day access to the Garma event, airport transfers, all meals and camping accommodation located in the General Camping Area including an assembled tent, sleeping bag, air mattress or stretcher bed.  

Student Pass ( TAFE/University Student)

$1,513.00 per person

Four-day access to the Garma event, airport transfers, all meals and camping accommodation located in the General Camping Area including, an assembled tent, sleeping bag, air mattress or stretcher bed.

The student rate is available for full-time TAFE/university students who hold a valid student ID. Student ID will need to be presented upon arrival at the ticket office (N/A for children).

Youth Forum Student Pass

$1,513.00 per person

Four-day access to the Garma Youth Forum, airport transfers, all meals and camping accommodation located in the designated Youth Forum camping area including, assembled tent, sleeping bag, air mattress or stretcher bed. 

Teachers/educators or guardians will be required to purchase an Adult Pass. Please contact to book. 

Corporate Group (purchased in groups of 10 only)

$4,128.00 per person

Four-day access to the Garma event featuring a new option to self-select a deluxe camping area carefully designed to encourage an environment for team interaction and discussion.

Invitation to attend a dinner under the stars featuring a special guest presenter, all meals, airport transfers, camping accommodation including an assembled tent, sleeping bag, mattress and/or stretcher bed.  

Community Ticket 

Community tickets are for residents of northeast Arnhem Land only and conditions apply, please contact the Yothu Yindi Foundation for further information.

Media Pass

Conditions apply, please contact the Yothu Yindi Foundation, for further information.

Cancellation policy

Registrants cancelling before 29th May 2021 will receive a 50% refund.

Registrants cancelling after 29th May 2021 will not be refunded.

Registrants cancelling with medical documentation will receive a full refund.

2021 Dates

The 2021 Garma Festival will span four days from Friday 30 July - Monday 2 August.

We recommend arriving on Thursday afternoon/evening and leaving on Tuesday morning and to avoid missing out on the full spectrum of programmed activities.


The Gulkula site where Garma is held is located approximately 30 minutes from the township of Nhulunbuy on the Central Arnhem Highway.

Getting to Garma

You can fly or self-drive.

All travel arrangements are at the responsibility of each guest. Daily flights into and departing Gove (Nhulunbuy) are available from Airnorth and Qantas.

Guests are encouraged to search for early bird flights and to book flights well ahead of time to avoid last-minute price hikes as Garma draws closer.

We strongly recommend you engage our official Garma travel agent, who is more than happy to assist with your flight arrangements:

Brad Thomas
Entertainment Travel Partners
PO Box 439 Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
T: +61 (0)2 9280 3767
F: +61 (0)2 9212 6524

Airport Shuttles

We will provide you with airport shuttle transfers to and from the Gulkula site for any commercial or chartered flights arriving between the morning of Thursday 29th July and the morning of Tuesday 3th August, please provide your flight details within your online registration process by Friday 25 June 2021.


Any additional transport required to and from the Garma site (into town or for flights outside the Garma open to public period) is not the responsibility of the Garma team. Please see below for options:


T: 08 89871144 or 08 89873068 (admin) for 12-passenger minibus taxi or 4-passenger taxi operating between the Garma site at Gulkula and the Nhulunbuy (Gove) township.

Hire Cars

Kansas Transportation

Gove Rentals

Manny’s Car Rental

T: 08 8987 2872

T: 08 8987 1700

T: 08 89 872 300

Driving to Garma

If you plan on driving to Gove via the central Arnhem highway from Darwin please take care. A high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle is essential for guests travelling this route. Be sure to engage 4WD on all dirt roads.

Garma guests increase traffic on the Central Arnhem Highway, reducing visibility considerably. Roads are unsealed and there are some difficult river crossings, large corrugations and roads are often prone to washout. Do not swim at the river crossings as saltwater crocodiles inhabit these areas. Be particularly careful at night – buffaloes and other animals stray onto the road.

Be sure to drive to the conditions at all times. DO NOT SPEED! Carry plenty of food, fuel and water, spare tyre(s) and a puncture repair kit and mobile service that can be used in remote areas.

Be sure to check road conditions before departure

Fact - Speed limits are heavily enforced during the Garma period. Please take note of the speed limits applied on the highways AND onsite at Gulkula.


Northern Land Council Permits to Enter Aboriginal Land

The Yolngu are the traditional owners of northeast Arnhem Land. They are also recognised as owners of this land under Australian law through the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) 1976. Permits are required to enter Aboriginal land.

Northern Land Council have given permission for guests attending the Garma Festival to use their Garma pass as their permit to travel through Arnhem Land via the Central Arnhem Highway only.

REMINDER: No side trips are permitted; the Northern Land Council advises that permission will NOT be granted for any travel via the Ramingining Road.

Gulkula and surrounding areas is an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA), managed by Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation. Declared in March 2001 as the first IPA in the Northern Territory, the Dhimurru IPA is a part of the Australian National Reserve System of protected areas.

If you wish to visit other sites in the area, permits are required. Enquiries should be made to the Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation in Nhulunbuy.

T: 08 8939 2700


Alcohol and drugs

Garma is an alcohol and drug-free event. Alcohol and illegal substances are not permitted or to be consumed at the Gulkula site. Alcohol restrictions are also in place at Gunyangara, Birritjimi and Yirrkala communities. There are heavy penalties for persons taking and consuming alcohol and/or illegal drugs, patrons caught will be immediately escorted off-site by the local Police. Be aware that police sniffer dogs are on regular patrol during the festival.

Protocols and Conduct

At Garma we request all guests to observe and work within Yolngu protocols:

  • Remember you are on Yolngu land and entering Yolngu time. Yolngu perceptions, priorities and preoccupations are different from those of mainstream Australia. Be patient, and try to leave at home your expectations of how things are learnt, and how events should run. Traditionally Yolngu learn by observation, by looking and listening. Asking too many questions can be inappropriate. So, when you have questions, choose them carefully and thoughtfully.
  • Respect people’s personal space, particularly in the camping areas and each individual guest’s tent. Sticking to the walking paths provided is important to ensure you’re not stumbling across cultural space.
  • Avoid strolling around and visiting Yolngu campsites unless specifically invited and accompanied by Yolngu.
  • Please exercise courtesy and sensitivity when taking photographs – seek the permission of the Yothu Yindi Foundation and subjects if taking close-ups, or photographs of small groups, particularly in the women’s programs and men’s programs cultural and health sessions. The Yothu Yindi Foundation has enforced strict intellectual property policies that safe guard both individuals and Yolngu families when posting Garma to social media channels. You are reminded that we are working in a realistic environment of high mortality. Cultural protocols are strict for that matter and we ask guests to respect this process. If you wish to use Garma imagery, you will need to seek approval from our Director of Media
  • Visitors should NOT leave the Gulkula site on their own and should only walk along specifically marked trails. This is about showing respect for land and is also a safety issue. Wild buffalo wander this country and organisers spend considerable effort in monitoring their trails prior to Garma each year. Please ensure someone knows your travel plans.
  • Treat the old people with the greatest of respect – they hold the knowledge and the power.
  • Please be conscious that dress standards may often vary from what is considered acceptable at your home. By dressing conservatively, you will avoid the possibility of causing offence. Too much skin on display draws inadvertent attention not appropriate for this event. Schools attending the festival should advise their students of this policy. Our dress standards also protect our participants from sunburn, sunstroke and dehydration. Plan a sensible wardrobe, practical and covered shoes and include a hat to protect you from the elements.

Accommodation & Facilities


  Although Gulkula seems large on the map, the site is actually quite compact, meaning you’re never too far from the facilities you need. All camping spots are within a short walk of showers and bathrooms, the main kitchen, and the coffee shop. The Women’s Healing, which is about a 10 min stroll from the campsite, is the furthest you will have to walk.

Garma is intended to be a bush camping experience and the Festival site at Gulkula is well set up for this. Camping with us onsite at Gulkula enables guests a greater opportunity to experience Garma, and its special character, purpose and essence.

Accommodation on site is a tent, sleeping bag and single air mattress per guest. For the comfort of your stay, we encourage guests to bring their own sheets and pillow. If you feel the supplied camping gear will not be sufficient to meet your needs we encourage you to bring your own.

Note: The Garma team do their utmost best to keep guests as comfortable as possible. However, if you are not accustomed to camping in the bush you may want to consider offsite accommodation options. Discounts are not available to guests who forego their camping entitlements. We do not take responsibility for travel or accommodation arrangements for participants who elect to stay offsite.

Offsite accommodation

Accommodation facilities in Nhulunbuy are very limited and can book out very quickly.

Gove Peninsula
T: 08 8987 0700
Walkabout Lodge
T:08 8939 2000

Toilets and Showers

There are operational toilets and hot showers on site.


There are no clothes washing facilities onsite. So, if you are averse to dust and dirt, please pack sufficiently and enough clothing to last you the time of your stay.

What to Bring

  • towel microfibre camping one is highly recommended
  • pillow and sheet
  • torch and batteries
  • toiletries
  • sunscreen
  • hat
  • mosquito repellent
  • covered shoes
  • small backpack
  • drink bottle


For all registered guests Garma is a fully catered event with three main meals per day. Please check notice boards for kitchen schedules.
The Garma team will calculate catering needs based on the registered number of guests and personnel in attendance. Non-vegetarian and vegetarian meals will be on offer for all guests.

Our caterers will make every attempt to identify ingredients that may cause allergic reactions for those with food allergies. Every effort is made to instruct our food production staff on the severity of food allergies; however, there is always a risk of contamination. There is also a possibility that manufacturers of the commercial foods we use could change the formulation at any time, without notice. Customers concerned with food allergies need to be aware of this risk. The Yothu Yindi Foundation will not assume any liability for adverse reactions to foods consumed or items one may come in contact with while eating catered meals.

Garma Site Access

Gulkula is the ceremonial site upon which Garma is held. The Gulkula site sits within an Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). For safety reasons and permit reasons, guests are not permitted in areas outside of the marked festival site and car park.

When making your travel arrangements please note:

  • Garma the event officially commences on Friday, 30st July and ends on the night of Monday 2nd August 2021. So not to miss out, guests should take note that programming will extend from Friday morning well into Monday night
  • Site opening to public Thursday 29th July 12 pm.
  • Site closure to the public Tuesday 3 August at 12pm.
  • Guests are welcome to camp onsite 29th July until 3rd Aug 12pm. All meals will be catered for during this period.

Disabled Access

Garma is held in a remote bush location. Unfortunately, we do not have full facilities that cater for disabled guests. We do have one wheelchair accessible toilet and shower facility. We are currently planning to better enable and accommodate guests with special requirements in the future.

Accompanied Children

While the organisers will do everything in their power to make the site child-friendly, the responsibility for the care and wellbeing of children lies entirely with parent/s, carers or guardian, please ensure that you supervise your children at all times.

Mobile Phones

Telstra enables guests of Garma to remain connected over the course of the event. The site will be equipped with a Telstra charging station and a supply of prepaid Telstra SIMS cards at the Garma Information desk.

Those wishing to use electronic devices during Garma should be aware that:

  • Telstra mobile coverage will be available
  • We encourage guests to switch their devices to flight mode whilst at Garma to extend battery life.
  • Other power outlets are located at the ticketing office /reception and guests are encouraged to remain at reception while their device charges, as Garma staff, cannot assume responsibility for any devices left unattended.
  • As power outlets are always in high demand at Garma, we predict that guests will sometimes need to wait for an outlet to become available. To avoid disappointment, we encourage guests to charge during quiet periods such as early morning and later in the evening.


ALL registered Garma participants agree to the conditions outlined in the Deed of Agreement to Make a Record at Garma. This is a legally binding document which prevents the Garma product from being used for commercial profit for purposes not aligned with the values and priorities of the Yothu Yindi Foundation. This policy has been developed out of respect for the Yolngu clans and their families and it enables them to maintain control, for protocol and cultural sensitivity reasons, of the public use of images, e.g. not publishing images of deceased persons. This policy sets out all terms and conditions prior to participants arriving on-site at Gulkula. * Your registration ticket binds your acceptance that you have read, understand and will abide by the terms of this document.

Requests to use recordings and images will need to be approved by the Yothu Yindi Foundation Director of media. All media requests are to be emailed to complete with your details.

Climate & Wildlife

Generally speaking, the weather is rain-free and sunny. The days can get quite warm (around 31 degrees and the evening can become very cool usually around 15 degrees although we have experienced colder mornings. We advise that you keep up a high fluid intake (plain water is best) to avoid dehydration and that you wear a broad-brimmed hat to guard against the harsh sun. We have had the occasional rain showers it rare at this time of year however we recommend that you close your tent properly when leaving it to avoid your belongings getting wet as dew can build up also.

Like most bushland in Australia, Gulkula has a healthy population of venomous snakes. If you see a snake, don't panic, do not touch it or attempt to move it yourself. Please notify a Garma crew member immediately so we can have the ranger safely remove it away from the site.

Wear insect repellents and cover-up at dusk to avoid mosquitoes. You may wish to bring a mosquito net as individuals reactions to bites vary.

Crocodiles (baru) inhabit the waters of Arnhem Land. They are not a threat at the Gulkula site which is atop an escarpment 100 metres above sea level. However, we do advise that caution should always be considered if venturing near water.

Sea wasps (box jelly fish) and other stingers exist in the ocean. It is highly recommended that you only enter the sea in the company and supervision of local guides. Note that there is a public swimming pool in Nhulunbuy where you will not have to worry about baru (crocodile), jellyfish or stingers.

There is also a local population of wild buffalo. If seen, do not approach under any circumstances. Buffalo are known for their short tempers and are not appreciative of being interrupted. If you see a buffalo, retreat quietly. Please let Garma staff know immediately if you spot a buffalo so that a qualified ranger can assist the buffalo in finding a safer place for it to go about its’ daily business.


There is no ATM located at Garma for cash-out transactions. There are EFTPOS machines stationed at the Garma Cafe, Merchandise Store and Gapan Gallery for card purchases we do not offer cash out from these venues. We strongly urge guests to pre-empt their spending habits and bring cash to suffice. General goods (water, soft drinks, and some toiletry items), art, Garma merchandise and espresso coffee will be available for sale onsite at the Garma Shop. Nhulunbuy has supermarkets and a variety of shops and facilities.

First Aid

A first-aid service is available onsite. Any serious conditions will be taken to the Nhulunbuy Hospital. Please advise the organisers if you have special needs or conditions.

PO Box 42119
Casuarina NT 0811
08 8945 5055

Friday 30 July - Monday 2 August 2021

Pledge Your Support for Garma

Community Supporters

View All Supporters