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Angurugu

The community is situated halfway down the western coast of Groote Eylandt, on the banks of the Angurugu River. Groote Eylandt is around 650 km east of Darwin and 50 km off the Arnhem Land coast in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Angurugu has a humid tropical climate, and 80% of annual rainfall occurs in the wet season (between December and March).

The Anindilyakwa people came to Groote Eylandt on songlines which created the land, rivers, animals and people and named everything about the region. Angurugu was an important meeting place for Groote Eylandt clans and people coming from the mainland for ceremonies.

The first European settlement on the island was the Emerald River Mission,13 km south of Angurugu, in 1921. Angurugu began as an Anglican Church Missionary Society station in 1943, as the Royal Australian Air Force needed to use the Emerald River Mission airstrip. By the 1950s almost all the clans living on the west of the island had settled at Angurugu, a big change to the traditional habits of occupation.

The island economy changed dramatically when manganese was discovered near Angurugu. The Church Missionary Society and BHP agreed on royalty payments to allow mining. In 1964 the Groote Eylandt Mining Company was granted leases on the island, and the first shipments of manganese ore left in 1966. Groote Eylandt now produces over three million tonnes of manganese ore each year.

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