27 Nov 2013

Parks in North Queensland given back to Aboriginals

11:58 am on 27 November 2013

Seven national parks on Cape York in north Queensland are to be handed back to traditional owners.

The Cape Melville, Jack River, Gaarraay, Daarrba, Juunju Daarrba Nhirrpan, Flinders Group and Howard Group national parks cover 354,800 hectares.

Traditional owners have indicated they are keen to boost the local economy and create jobs by establishing tourism ventures at the parks. They also plan to designate more public camping sites.

State Environment Minister Andrew Powell and State Parks Minister Steven Dickson will hand over title deeds to the land at a ceremony in Cooktown, north of Cairns, on Wednesday.

Traditional Owner Clarence Flinders said many of the elders who first lodged the Aboriginal Land Act claim in 1992 have since passed away and will be remembered on the day.

"It's taken a long time but we have finally been recognised as the owners of our unique national parks," he said in a statement.

Although traditional owners technically own the land, AAP reports they have agreed to conditions set out under the Indigenous Land Use Agreement and Indigenous Management Agreements.

The areas will remain national parks, public access won't be restricted and the land can never be sold.

AAP reports the transfer of ownership is the largest number of national parks handed back to Aboriginal people.