Arnhem Land lies in the subtropical north of the Australian continent. The physical environment varies from the rocky escarpment in the west, extending into Kakadu National Park. To the east lie the savannah forests and the Arafura Wetlands of central Arnhem Land. Chains of islands lead to the eastern coast of Arnhem Land and south to Blue Mud Bay.
From 1916 to the 1970s, missions and settlements were established throughout the region. In 1931 the Australian Government declared Arnhem Land an Aboriginal Reserve, and with the introduction of land rights in 1976 many Aboriginal people returned to live on outstations on their traditional lands. The settlements continue to provide resources, including art centres for the outstations.