Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility


Club in Focus: Gove Boat Club (GBC)

Published Mon 08 Nov 2021

Gove Boat Club (GBC) is located at Melville Bay 12km from the town of Nhulunbuy at the top of the Gulf of Carpentaria in East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory.

Nhulunbuy is the largest town in Arnhem Land, it was built in 1970 to service the bauxite/iron ore mine. In 1971 the Gove Boat Club was established. Today the club is an integral part of the township especially since fishing is a popular pastime of locals with most people owning a boat of some kind, as such the boat ramp is always busy with a steady stream of boats going in and out most days.

GBC is an accredited Discover Sailing Centre offering a variety of programs including keelboat, dinghy, tackers & powerboat programs. GBC has a number of club owned boats including Optis, Lasers & FarEast19R that are used for training and also hired out for club racing.

GBC has cruising boats of all shapes and sizes, predominantly larger multihulls that are lucky enough to have spectacular cruising grounds with un-spoilt coastline and world class fishing within Arnhem Land.   Even though GBC is remote it receives a steady stream of cruising boats on their way around the top of Australia or heading further north into Asia as we are a key stopover point, there is a strong local following of boaties, and more recently tourists and sailors that travel for their annual regatta or just to use the campground. The club offers a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere with stunning sunsets, beer garden, licensed bar and restaurant open 4 days a week, campground, wash-down bays, liveaboard facilities and regular sailing.

The campground was a result of GBC needing to diversify their revenue streams to survive, when the mine ceased production their population shrank to about 3000 people. Tourism is the main reason people visit Arnhem Land and there are not many places to stay, so GBC decided to relinquish half of their boat park and turn it into a campground.  With the help of tourism grants and committed members and many, many volunteers GBC now have a beautiful waterfront campground “Manyimi” with 22 powered sites, amenities block (shared with our liveaboards), laundry & camp kitchen. In the Dry Season its full of tourists & fishermen, during the Wet Season when weather allows, it gets a steady stream of locals. The additional income from the campground has allowed GBC to employ a full time Operations Manager to oversee the club so they can also grow in other areas.

As with most clubs COVID had an impact, in preparation for the Dry Season GBC's new campground was set to open on April 1, 2020.  Due to the National lockdowns the opening was delayed but the local support was amazing as people started coming to stay for a weekend here or there, school holidays or just a Saturday night. A few months later as the biosecurity zones opened and people outside the local area could come in GBC have not looked back; for most of the Dry Season in 2020 & 2021 their campground has been booked solid!

The Gove Regional Regatta is the club’s latest success story which is now their flagship event. The first event was in Oct 2020 and to their surprise an amazing 100 sailors travelled the 1000km from Darwin to compete in their event via road, air, and sea!   GBC were able to secure some great sponsorship from SEASWIFT to transport Lasers from Darwin via Barge enabling them to grow beyond their initial expectations as the boats ran out.  This was a great way to kick off their annual event and promote their new campground.

The regatta was run again in Oct 2021 with another great turnout across all 3 divisions.  Results CRUISING and LASER/FAREAST. An unexpected result of their Regional Regatta in 2020 was the local exposure and demand for people wanting to learn to sail, which was so great that GBC employed a seasonal instructor to keep up.

Brad & Notch (GBC's Commodore & Vice Commodore) were National finalists for the 2020 Australian Sailing Volunteer of the Year Award for their hard work over the last 12 years getting the club to where it is now.

If you ever go to Arnhem Land be sure to pop in and enjoy the hospitality at GBC.