Four National Parks in Queensland’s Far North have been handed back to the traditional owners in a historic deal between the state government and the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people.
The traditional owners have taken formal ownership of more than 160 thousand hectares of land stretching from the Daintree, north of Port Douglas, to the south of Cooktown.
The state Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Minister Craig Crawford, and Eastern Kuku Yalanji representatives signed the deal in a ceremony on Wednesday September 29th.
The agreement will see The Daintree, Ngalba-bulal, Kalkajaka and the Hope Islands National Parks jointly run by the traditional owners and the state government.
Minister Scanlon said the agreement recognised the cultural importance of returning the land, as well as “their right to own and manage their Country, to protect their culture and to share it”.
The negotiations for the deal between the government and community took about four years.
The agreement is a milestone for the Queensland Government, but across the nation iconic Australian landmarks have been returned to the traditional owners, including Uluru in 1985, Kenbi in the Darwin Harbour in 2016, and the Kakadu township Jabiru in the Northern Territory, The Flinders in South Australia, and Kununurra in Western Australia in 2021.
Desmond Tayley, a Kuku Nyungkul traditional owner, told the ABC that the return of the land was a crucial part of the healing process.
“It’s important that we get that back on country and we make sure that our spirit is kept very strong,”