The first successful determinations in one of the largest ever native title claims in Australia has been handed down, with the Kuuku Ya’u and Uutaalnganu peoples becoming the recognised native title holders of nearly 2,200 square kilometres of land on Cape York.

It’s a significant step for the overarching Cape York United #1Claim (CYU#1 Claim), which covers more than half of all land in the region.

The Kuuku Ya’u land covers an area in the Lockhart River region on the east coast and takes in Iron Range National Park (Kutini-Payamu), while the Uutaalnganu land stretches south from that to the Macrossan Range north of Coen.


Uutaalnganu Elder Beatrice Hobson said her mob has been fighting for the land since the 1990s.

“My people, they was worrying for a long time to get their land back,” she said.

“This land is our Mothers’ land and we want to keep our land safe.

“Hey, we got it!”

Jasmine Accoom, a Traditional Owner from the Kanthanampu sub-group of the Kuuku Ya’u Native Title Group, started agitating for land rights from the age of 15, sitting in on Land Council board meetings where she learned about the procedures, protocols and politics of agitation for land rights.

She said it’s been a long time walking the ‘rocky road’ and is feeling relieved, with celebrations expected to last a week.


“The men will hunt, and the women will do cooking the traditional way,” she said.

Chair of the Cape York Land Council, Richie Ah Mat, said the latest legal battle began seven years ago, but for many Traditional Owners it was the final step in a struggle that started many years ago.

"Their battle began in 1997 and 1998, when Kuuku Ya’u and Uutaalnganu Traditional Owners fought for recognition of their traditional rights in earlier native title and land claims,” he said.

“I am awed by the efforts and resilience of today’s successful claimants, and pay tribute to the struggles of their Elders.

“The rewards are finally theirs.”

The Cape York Land Council is behind the CYU#1 Claim which has goal of achieving native title over a total of 79,000 square kilometres of land that's yet to be handed back to Traditional Owners.


Main points

  • The Kuuku Ya’u and Uutaalnganu peoples have successfully claimed native title over nearly 2,200 square kilometres of Cape York land
  • The claim covers the east coast region around Lockhart River and includes Iron Range National Park
  • It's the first step in an overarching claim which covers more than half of all land on Cape York
We will have a big celebration and feast of bush food.
Jasmine Accoom
Kuuku Ya’u Native Title Holder