The Daintree Is Finally Handed Back To Indigenous Traditional Owners

After arduous 30 year battle

Article heading image for The Daintree Is Finally Handed Back To Indigenous Traditional Owners

After an arduous 30-year native title battle, the State Government has handed back the world’s older tropical rainforest, Daintree park, to its Indigenous custodians. 

More than 160,000 hectares of land in Cape York has been handed back to the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people. 

The Aboriginal people of the Daintree were sidelined by the Federal Government’s nomination of the rainforest for World Heritage listing.

The debate led to protests, an Anti-Discrimination Tribunal matter and years of tense negotiating with the State Government.

Finally, State Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships minister Craig Crawford and representatives of the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people signed an agreement at a special ceremony in Bloomfield, north of Wujal Wujal on Wednesday. 

Eastern Kuku Yalanji Elders, members of the Jabalbina Yalanji Aboriginal Corporation and First Nations families from across the Wet Tropics attended the agreement signing ceremony on Wednesday. Source:

Included in the agreement, is the hand back of four national parks which include the globally recognised Daintree National Park, along with a stretch from north of Port Douglas to the south of Cooktown. A new nature refuge will be created as well.

Eastern Kuku Yalanji traditional owners Negotiating Committee Member Chrissy Grant revealed that eventually, the land would be “solely and wholly managed by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama”.

“Our goal is to establish a foundation to provide confident and competent people with pathways and opportunities for mentoring, training, apprenticeships, work experience and employment for our Eastern Kuku Yalanji Bama to fill positions from a wide range of skilled trades, land and sea management, hospitality, tourism, and research so that we are in control of our own destinies, ” she said.

Minister Scanlon says in light of Australia’s uncomfortable and ugly shared past, the move is a key step towards reconciliation.

“These national parks will protect important Aboriginal cultural sites, diverse ecosystems including rainforests, woodlands, wetlands and mangroves, and form part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area,” she said.

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30 September 2021

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