The Mirarr

The Mirarr are the Traditional Aboriginal (Bininj) Owners of much of the north-east of Kakadu National Park and parts of Western Arnhem Land. There are no strict lines or borders between Mirarr country and the estates of neighbouring Aboriginal clans. Mirarr country encompasses the Ranger uranium mine and Jabiluka mineral lease, the mining town of Jabiru and large parts of Kakadu National Park, including the wetlands of the Jabiluka billabong country and the sandstone escarpment of Mount Brockman.

Mirarr speak an average of three Aboriginal languages plus English. Of these languages the Gundjeihmi language is the dominant tongue (pronounced kund-jate-me).

Yvonne Margarula is the Senior Traditional Owner and leader of the Mirarr people.

Yvonne was given ultimate responsibility for Mirarr country by her late father Toby Gangali who was the previous Senior Traditional Owner. Toby Gangali opposed plans for uranium exploration and mining on his country in the 1970s but his opposition along with that of other local Aboriginal people, was overruled by the Federal Government 1976. Ranger uranium mine has been operating on Mirarr land since1980, the mine is now run by Energy Resources Australia (ERA) which is majority owned by Rio Tinto.

Yvonne Margarula lives on Mirarr country and is called upon to make decisions in consultation with other Mirarr on an extraordinary range of issues affecting Aboriginal people of the Kakadu region.

Mirarr established Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) in 1995  to assist them to manage a balance between sustainable development, traditional practice and living culture on their land.

In accordance with customary law and tradition, Mirarr are guided in exercising their right to speak for country by their obligations and responsibilities to other Bininj affected by Mirarr decisions about Mirarr country. Bininj have strict obligations to prevent the destruction of country and desecration of sites.

Mirarr have successfully claimed nearly all of their traditional country under the Aboriginal Land Rights (NT) Act 1976, and therefore hold beneficial freehold title to most of their country via the Kakadu and Jabiluka Land Trusts. The parts of the Mirarr estate occupied by uranium deposits have been leased by the Commonwealth Government to Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) a uranium mining company owned by Rio Tinto. The parts that are within the boundary of Kakadu National Park are leased to the Commonwealth Government agency, Parks Australia, and managed under a joint management agreement with other affected Bininj clans. The township of Jabiru was excised from the area owned by the Kakadu Land Trust in the late 1970s. As a result, Mirarr have lodged a common law Native Title Claim over the township of Jabiru and surrounds. In 2013 the claim over the land surrounding the town of Jabiru was successful, negotiations are ongoing regarding Jabiru township itself.