The township of Coen is located in central Cape York, approximately 600 kilometres north-west of Cairns and comprises 14.5 square kilometres. It is not a discrete Aboriginal community and is part of Cook Shire. The township had an estimated resident adult population of 277 people as at 30 June 2015[1],[2].

Today, the residents of the Coen area originate from several different language groups. These include:

  • The Lamalama people from the Port Stewart/Lakefield National Park area.
  • The Northern Kaanju or Wenlock people from upper Wenlock River and Batavia Downs.
  • The Southern Kaanju people from parts of the McIlwraith Range area.
  • A number of Wik groups, particularly the Mungkana from Merepah and topside Mungkana peoples with interests in parts of Rokeby National Park (Langi Outstation).
  • The Olkolo people with interest in Glen Garland Station to the south west of Musgrave.
  • Town based people and Ayapathu people with links to the south of Coen.
  • A variety of individuals or small groups with links to other areas, the Umpula of Lockhart River and a cluster of languages from around Princess Charlotte Bay such as Kugu Thaypan.

Most of the major language and family groupings have clear outstations and land claim or land acquisition aspirations.

English is now the major language spoken in Coen, however, some of the other Indigenous languages still spoken in the area are Lamalama, Wik Mungkan, Ayapathu, Kaanju, Olkala, Southern Kaanju, Umpula and Morobalama.

If you are planning a community visit then our Coen Community Engagement Guidelines might be helpful.


  1. Boundaries used are local government areas (ASGS 2015) for Aurukun, Doomadgee and Hope Vale, and statistical areas level 1 (SA1s) of 3139616 for Coen and 3116408 for Mossman Gorge.
  2. Adults 17 years and over provided by the Queensland Government Statistician’s Office (QGSO), Queensland Treasury, based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) unpublished preliminary Estimated Resident Population (ERP) data by age and sex at the Statistical Area level 1 for 30 June 2015.
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