Aquatic ecosystems are critical to the long-term viability and vibrancy of communities and economies across northern Australia. In a region that supports significant cultural and ecological water values, partnerships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous stakeholders can benefit aquatic ecosystem management. We present, as a case study from the Kimberley region of Western Australia, a collaborative research program that successfully documented Indigenous and Western Scientific knowledge of remote wetlands, using a variety of field-based activities, questionnaires, interviews and workshops. The sharing of knowledge between Indigenous and non-Indigenous research partners facilitated a comprehensive understanding of ecosystem values, threats, processes, management priorities and aspirations. These formed the basis of a management plan and monitoring tools, designed to build the capacity of an Indigenous ranger group to engage in research, monitoring and management of wetlands. The project provides a useful example of the benefits of collaborations in the context of remote-area management where local communities are responsible for environmental management and monitoring, such as is the case in northern Australia and presumably other areas of the world. © 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.