BLUF

The Northern Territory town of Nhulunbuy could potentially host a forward-operating military base for the ADF and its allies.

Summary

ASPI security contributor Jaya Pastor-Elsegood believes there is potential for a more significant military presence across the Top End’s regional and remote locations. Pastor-Elsegood argues that:
  • East Arnhem Land has a significant town—Nhulunbuy, the largest town in the region—and is home to the NT’s second deepest naturally-occurring port in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
  • Nhulunbuy has several strategic advantages that make it an ideal location for an alliance forward-operating base, including a power supply.
  • Nhulunbuy’s deep-water port is one of the region’s primary distribution points. 
  • The airstrip can accommodate the USA and Australian military aircraft.
  • A Defence presence would bring significant local economic benefit.
However, there are also challenges, including:
  • The Town and alumina refinery sits on a mining lease which stipulates what kind of activities can occur.
  • Supply lines into East Arnhem Land would need to be upgraded.
The East Arnhem region is Aboriginal land, so there’d need to be extensive consultation with the traditional owners.