Complex intersecting social, economic and environmental dilemmas in Australia's Cape York Peninsula present a number of challenges for planners seeking to develop and implement land use and natural resource management (NRM) plans. There have been five different attempts at land use and NRM planning in Cape York Peninsula over the last 20 years. These processes have (to greater or lesser extents) failed to deliver community-owned and government-supported plans to guide development and/or the management of the region's natural resources. The region is remote, sparsely populated, and home to a significant Indigenous population. Much of the contestation within the region surrounds the access, use and ownership of the region's internationally valuable natural resources. This paper reviews, from the literature, the relevancy and applicability of criteria for best practice planning and governance. A range of identified best practice governance and planning principles are applied to assess the governance arrangements for planning in the Peninsula. The paper finds that decision-making arrangements for land use and NRM planning in the Peninsula are still in their infancy and are inadequate to support effective outcomes. The paper concludes that broader attention to best practice principles in governance for planning is needed to improve planning outcomes.