After crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Coral Adventurer will arrive at Cape Arnhem in the early afternoon and will enjoy a shore excursion and then watch the stunning sunset over these ancient lands.
Arnhem Land is one of the five regions of the Northern Territory of Australia. The region was discovered by Europeans when Captain William van Colster sailed into the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape Arnhem is named after his ship, the Arnhem, which itself was named after the city of Arnhem in the Netherlands. Arnhem Land has been occupied by indigenous people for tens of thousands of years and is the location of the oldest-known stone axe, which scholars believe to be 35,500 years old. Arnhem Land is arguably one of the last areas in Australia that could be a completely separate country. Many of the region’s leaders have called and continue to call for a treaty that would allow the Yolngu to operate under their own traditional laws… At least since the 18th century (and probably earlier) Muslim traders from Makassar of Sulawesi visited Arnhem Land each year to trade, harvest, and process sea cucumbers or trepang. This marine animal is highly prized in Chinese cuisine, for folk medicine, and as an aphrodisiac. This Macassan contact with Australia is the first recorded example of interaction between the inhabitants of the Australian continent and their Asian neighbours. This contact had a major effect on local indigenous Australians. The Makassans exchanged goods such as cloth, tobacco, knives, rice, and alcohol for the right to trepang coastal waters and employ local labour. Makassar pidgin became a lingua franca along the north coast among several indigenous Australian groups who were brought into greater contact with each other by the seafaring Makassan culture.