An aboriginal tribe in Australia have been granted their native land back, after what has become one of the most protracted and fraught land battles in Australian history.

The Larrakia Aboriginal people are the traditional owners of the Darwin region, spanning most of the Cox peninsula.

The Larrakia people have had the longest-running claim on the land, known as the Kenbi Land Claim; Dating as far back as 1789 the claim has been through two hearings, three federal court reviews, and two High Court appeals.

The 37-year long dispute was settled in April, transferring ownership of the land from Australia's federal and territory governments to a group of Larrakia Aboriginal people.

Today, the final agreement, which consists of 55,000 hectares, was handed back to the Larrakia people by Australia's Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

"Today we formally recognise what Larrakia people have always known, that this is Aboriginal land, that this is that lands of the Larrakia people. I acknowledge that Larrakia people have cared for this country for tens of thousands of years, that your songs have been sung since time out of mind. And those songs have held and passed on the knowledge of your customs, your traditions, your law and I pay my deepest respects to you and your elders, past and present," Turnbull said at the ceremony.

Lengthy negotiations with the government over the cost of cleaning up toxic waste and arms materials on the land have led to long delays, and many of the Larrakia elders have not lived to see the dispute resolved. Many wished their mothers, and elders were alive to witness the long-awaited triumph for their native community.

"I am very happy after 37 years, we have got our land back. I am very sad that our mums are not here today," said Aboriginal landowner Jason Singh.