Published Wednesday, 06 August, 2008 at 11:31 AM

The Honourable Anna Bligh

A complex land tenure issue with a history dating back more than 20 years has been resolved by the Bligh Government and Queenslanders will soon have a spectacular new national park in Cape York.

Premier Anna Bligh said it would be the declaration of the most significant rainforest wilderness area in Australia in decades.

“I was aware of this issue and its long history and when I took over as Premier I was keen to make sure it was fixed,” Ms Bligh said.

“As a result Queenslanders, as well as national and international tourists, will now have access to a new 160,000 hectare national park – a land area the approximate size of Fraser Island – and the largest undisturbed tropical rainforest area in Australia.

“The McIlwraith Range area has great scenic beauty, with spectacular escarpments, gorges, waterfalls and rainforests.

“The flora and fauna is fantastic – for example there are at least 16 plant species that are only found in this area and it will also protect the largest remaining undisturbed stands of hoop pine in the world.

“It’s also the only region in Australia where you will find links to Papua New Guinea wildlife such the cuscus mammal, electus parrots and emerald green pythons.”

Ms Bligh said agreement had been reached for the formation of the new KULLA (McIlwraith Range) National Park with management to be undertaken by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Kulla Land Trust under an Indigenous Management Agreement.

She said KULLA was an acronym for the for the initial letters of the Kaanju, Umpila, Lamalama and the Ayapathu people – the four clan groups with historical connection to the area.

“This is the most significant declaration of a national park that will have Aboriginal land as its underlying tenure – made possible by our Cape York Peninsula Heritage Act 2007.

“This Indigenous Management Agreement between the Kulla Land Trust and the EPA will provide for about 158,358 hectares, within the former Mt Croll and McIllwraith Range properties, to become a jointly managed National Park,” Ms Bligh said.

“In addition agreement has been reached on the tenure of approximately 20,000 more hectares with Muluna, Toolka and Kulla land trusts granted freehold title over 4 separate parcels of land.

“The three land trusts have each agreed to the creation of a new nature refuge within their freehold lands. These three new nature refuges will further protect the area’s high conservation and cultural value for future generations.”

Premier Bligh presented the title for the KULLA (McIlwraith Range) National Park (Cape York Peninsula Aboriginal land) to the Kulla Land Trust, which will manage the park jointly with the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The Indigenous Management Agreement addresses a wide range of park management matters. It identifies the responsibilities of the EPA and the land trust, and specifies how they will make management decisions jointly,” Ms Bligh said.

“The agreement sets out how the EPA and the land trust will provide for and regulate public access to the park. Through this agreement, the Queensland Government will support employment and training of Indigenous rangers, and assist the land trust to protect Indigenous cultural heritage.”

Ms Bligh praised the efforts of Indigenous groups and conservation groups such as the Australian Conservation Foundation and Wilderness Society in making today’s historic announcement a reality.

Natural Resources and Water Minister Craig Wallace said the five separate deeds of grant handed over comprise a total area of about 180,000 hectares of land within the former Mt Croll, McIllwraith Range and Running Creek properties - three of the priority properties identified by the Queensland Government’s tenure resolution process.

He acknowledged the work of the Cape York Tenure Resolution Implementation Group chaired by the Queensland Government and with representation of the Cape York Land Council, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation, the Australian Conservation Foundation, and The Wilderness Society.

“Granting Aboriginal land and agreeing to the co-operative management of the national park is a positive step towards reconciliation by recognising past Indigenous connection to the land,” Mr Wallace said.

6 August , 2008
Contact: Premier’s office 3224 4500