About Coen


Coen is a small township located in far north Queensland. Historical records indicate that these are the traditional homelands of the Kaanju people. Though the community falls within the boundaries of the Cook Shire, it is about 400kms from the main centre of Cooktown, or about a 6.5 hour drive.  


Several traditional languages are still spoken in Coen. English is also widely spoken. There are 6 recognisable language groups:

  • Ayapathu [Ayar-parth-ew]
  • Kaanju (Northern and Southern) [Karn-jew]
  • Lama Lama [Lar-mar Lar-mar]
  • Morobalama [Mor-row-bal-armer]
  • Olkala [Old-kar-lar]
  • Wik-Mungkan [Wik Mung-ken].

Although almost all Coen people understand standard English very well, the use of an interpreter may be necessary to assist some complainants, witnesses, victims and offenders who come before the courts.

History of Coen

Coen facts and figures

For 2011 and 2016 census information on education, employment, income, housing figures and more for Coen, build a statistical profile on Know Your Community.

Native title information

Search for native title information on the National Native Title Tribunal website.

Visiting Coen

Getting to Coen

There are several companies which fly directly to Coen from Cairns. The flight takes approximately an hour and 45 minutes.

The drive to Coen from Cairns takes about 9.5 hours. For parts of the northerly end of the trip, the road is unsealed and caution should be taken as road conditions can change quickly when roads are wet and slippery. The Cook Shire Council publishes up-to-date information on the state of roads in the region.   

Seasonal considerations

The community is quite busy, particularly in the dry season, with all tourists and visitors travelling the Peninsula Development Road up to the tip of Cape York having to pass through the town. Roads in the area are subject to flooding and potholes during the wet season (approximately October to April).

Quarantine restrictions

A Quarantine and Inspection Office is located about 20km from the township, to monitor the area for emerging threats and provide travellers with quarantine information for Cape York Peninsula, which is a high-risk area for the entry of exotic pests and diseases. The Far Northern Pest Quarantine Area covers Cape York and north of the Coen Information and Inspection Centre. This quarantine area acts as a buffer against plant and animal pests and diseases which originate from countries to the north. 

When visiting Cape York you need to observe the quarantine regulations in these regions:

  • it is against the law to move plant and animal material, including fruit, from the Torres Strait to the mainland
  • restrictions apply on moving plant material, including fruit, south from Cape York.

For more information visit:

Alcohol restrictions

There are currently no alcohol restrictions in place in Coen. However, residents have the ability to apply to the Clerk of the Magistrates Court to have their homes declared a dry place

Local government

Search the local government directory for information about the Cook Shire Council. 

Who to contact if you have questions about your visit

Sorry business

‘Sorry Business’ is a term used during the time of mourning following the death of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. Torres Strait Islanders may use the terminology ‘Bad or Sad News’. The term can also refer to the past practice of forcibly removing children from their families. The intensity of mourning is reflective of the importance of the family or person who has died. The mourning process enables healing for the family and community involved. Essential services such as policing, child safety, health, education and justice still continue throughout this period. 

Community justice group

The role of the Community Justice Group (CJG) is to ensure that clients of the service are given appropriate cultural support for court matters. The CJG also provides cultural reports to the courts at sentencing and bail applications, assistance to the courts in managing community-based offences, and networking to implement crime prevention initiatives.

Members of the CJG work closely with a number of justice agencies including the Queensland Magistrates Court, Department of Corrective Services, Queensland Police Service, and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service. The CJG works to support the community’s understanding of and access to the justice system by working in conjunction with Shire Council by-laws and victim support agencies.

Key ways the CJG is able to assist the community and the courts include:

  • participation in community consultations relevant to the CJG’s role within the criminal justice sector
  • preparation and presentation of written and oral sentencing submissions to the court
  • defendant support and referral (including court support)
  • victim support and referral (including court support)
  • support for debtors wishing to access the State Penalties and Enforcement Registry.

For more information about your local Community Justice Group:

Community services

Use the Queensland Government's one place service directory to find up-to-date contact information for local support services including:

  • legal advice and support services
  • youth justice and support groups
  • domestic and family violence support
  • drug and alcohol services
  • mens' and women's groups
  • accident, emergency and medical services

More information