Amorphous GaN films have been deposited onto various substrates by ion-assisted deposition. The films were deposited at room temperature using nitrogen ion energies in the range 40-900 eV. Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy and nuclear reaction analysis show that the Ga:N atomic ratio is approximately one for films grown with ion energy near 500 eV; these films have the highest transparency. Films grown with ion energies below 300 eV are Ga rich, and show reduced transparency across the visible. Raman spectroscopy, x-ray diffraction, and transmission electron microscopy confirm the amorphous nature of the films. Annealing studies on a-GaN establish that the films begin to crystallise at a temperature of about 700 C. To investigate the local bonding environment of the Ga or N atoms, we have measured the extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) of the transparent GaN films. The EXAFS results indicate that the films are dominated by heteropolar tetrahedral bonding, with a low density of homopolar bonds.