Traditional Owners of Kakadu are celebrating the long-overdue return of their ancestral lands, after being handed the deeds of title during a ceremony on Thursday.

Fifty per cent of the World Heritage-listed park is now in the hands of the Traditional Owners, which includes about 10,000 square kilometres of land that is the traditional country of the Limilngan/Minitja, Murumburr, Gianduja, Yurlkmanj, Wurngomgu, Bolmo, Wurrkbarbar, Matjba, Uwinymil, Bunidj, Djindibi, Mirrar Gundjeihmi and Dadjbaku peoples.

Northern Land Council chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi said the land grants to the Kakadu Aboriginal Land Trust completed 45 years of unfinished business.

“For too long there have been two classes of land in Kakadu National Park – Aboriginal land and other land ‘subject to Aboriginal land claim,” he said.

“Today that has been fixed once and for all time.”

Mr Bush-Blanasi said the return of land to the Traditional Owners would allow for new investment and tourism opportunities.

“We are already seeing the development of more locally-owned and operated Aboriginal tourism and other business enterprises in Kakadu,” he said.

“Traditional Owners can also take better care of their country through improved joint management and cultural site protection and by caring for their country as only they know how to.

“There will be wonderful opportunities for cultural revitalisation and to celebrate the living cultural traditions of the traditional owners.”