Indigenous Communities

and the Environment

Eastern Kuku Yalanji IPA

Eastern Kuku Yalanji

Eastern Kuku Yalanji protected area

The photos used are courtesy of Eastern Kuku Yalanji Indigenous Protected Area.

Wet Tropics, Queensland | Declared in May 2013

Picture a place where ancient rainforest nestles between soaring coastal mountains, a place where enormous green valleys lead you down to a stunning coastline and sea brimming with plant and animal life. Welcome to Eastern Kuku Yalanji Indigenous Protected Area.

Eastern Kuku Yalanji sweeps across 70,135 hectares, taking in parts of two of Australia's world-renowned world heritage areas - the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics.

Eastern Kuku Yalanji is the traditional home of a number of bama (clans) including the Kuku Nyungkal and the Jalunji-Warra.

Establishing Eastern Kuku Yalanji Indigenous Protected Area will happen in a number of stages and involve several different bama.

The Jalunji-Warra and the Kuku Nyungkal, along with several other clans, had their native title rights recognised in 2007.

Jalunji-Warra country, which includes bubu (land) and jalun (sea), extends from Cairns Reef in the north to the mouth of the Daintree River in the south, and out to the eastern edge of the Great Barrier Reef. Kuku Nyungkal bubu centres on the upper Annan River.

In order for each bama to look after their part of Eastern Kuku Yalanji, they have to take a broad approach to keeping country healthy and working together.

Kuku Nyungkal and Jalunji-Warra identity is based upon Ngujakura (Dreaming) and is reflected in their cultural connection to bubu and jalun and their aspiration to conserve and protect country.

Eastern Kuku Yalanji's wet rainforests contain more than half the world's primitive flowering plant families. They contain a rich abundance of plant materials which are a source of food and traditional medicines.

Waterways are very important for the Jalunji- Warra and the Kuku Nyungkal. A rare species of cling-goby fish lives along Jalunji-Warra waterways as do bilngkumu (estuarine crocodiles), which are important story animals. The mangrove forests of the Alexandra Bay and the Daintree River are listed as nationally important wetlands.

Many trees and plants found along the banks of waterways help the Kuku Nyungkal identify changes in the seasons. For example flowering yarrun and yumba (wattles) signal the movement of ngalkun (mullet) upstream to lay their eggs.

The Kuku Nyungkal find gambarr (clay) which is used for painting, cooking and dancing ceremonies along the banks.

Waterways are a significant part of Kuku Nyungkal and Jalunji-Warra culture as the yirrmbal (rainbow serpent) travels along them. Yirrmbal forms lore and imparts knowledge and decision making responsibilities which are the basis of traditional management.

Waterways pass through Eastern Kuku Yalanji and reach the coast; their estuaries, mangroves and mudflats are breeding grounds for crustaceans and molluscs. The sandy beaches are used by ngawiya (turtles) to lay eggs and are also popular with visitors. The fringing reefs support many varieties of kuyu (fish) and kirrbaji (dugong).

Eastern Kuku Yalanji is home to many threatened species including beach stonecurlews, which find refuge on Jalunji-Warra islands, and kurranji (cassowary), a large fruit eating bird which plays an important role in spreading forest seeds. The Kuku Nyungkal considers the jarrabina (tree-climbing kangaroo) to be the king of the jungle because it looks after the rainforest and high plains.

Yalanji clan groups will also provide advice on the future management of World Heritage areas in the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.

Their bubu under category V which conserves important land and seascapes and other values created by interactions with humans through traditional management practices.

Eastern Kuku Yalanji Indigenous Protected Area contains many cultural sites such as story places, burial and birthing sites and painting places. Jalunji-Warra and Kuku Nyungkal are actively involved in transferring traditional knowledge to younger generations through painting, crafts, mapping of cultural sites and recording the relationships of people and plants, stories and language through books and videos.

Kuku Nyungkal and Jalunji-Warra ranger groups' spearhead conservation work and looking after country. They have developed cultural management plans, conducted cultural heritage surveys, and implemented fire and pest management plans. They've also organised an Indigenous ranger conference and hosted a cultural camp for local school children.

Traditional owners are working with the Australian Government and other partner agencies such as the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Wet Tropics Management Authority to ensure that this land and seascape has a bright future. Eastern Kuku Jalunji-Warra and Kuku Nyungkal intend to develop a number of sustainable businesses such as a health retreat, eco-cultural tourism, walking tours and cultural education, which will provide employment and economic opportunities.

Dedicated on 8 May 2013 as an Indigenous Protected Area, Eastern Kuku Yalanji will become a part of Australia's National Reserve System, a nationwide network of reserves which protect Australia's environment for future generations.

Eastern Kuku Yalanji Indigenous Protected Area will be managed under two International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories. The Jalunji-Warra will manage their homelands under category VI which focuses on conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources. The Kuku Nyungkal will manage their bubu under category V which conserves important land and seascapes and other values created by interactions with humans through traditional management practices.

Download this page as the Eastern Kuku Yalanji fact sheet (PDF - 1.16 MB)