About Kowanyama


Kowanyama is located on the far west coast of Cape York, 600km north-west of Cairns. The community is positioned on the banks of Magnificent Creek, which joins the South Mitchell River. 


The Kowanyama community has 3 main language groups, which are defined by their relationship to the river:

  • Kokoberra
  • Kokomnjen
  • Kunjen

There are 2 associated clan/language groups:

  • Kokoberrin
  • Yir Yoront [Yi Your-ntarl]

Aboriginal English is also spoken in Kowanyama. The use of an interpreter may be necessary to assist complainants, witnesses, victims and offenders who come before the courts.

History of Kowanyama

Kowanyama facts and figures

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

Native title information

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

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Visiting Kowanyama

Visitors to Kowanyama should watch the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council's induction video. The video has important information about the community's cultural protocols, environment and outback safety.

Getting to Kowanyama

Flights to Kowanyama are available through Hinterland Aviation and Skytrans. Chartered or private flights are also available. Kowanyama Airport is located on Chapman Road. Access to Kowanyama by road is generally only accessible for 4 or 5 months during the dry season. Road access can be difficult during the wet season and is sometimes impossible, as roads can be inundated by water or washed out. Fires can also restrict vehicle access along roads.

Seasonal considerations

Kowanyama is subject to cyclones and heavy rainfall from October to April/May.

Alcohol restrictions

Alcohol restrictions apply in Kowanyama

Local government

Search the local government directory for information about the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council. 

Who to contact if you have questions about your visit

Sorry business

The death of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person impacts on the whole community; however the experience of Sorry Business can vary within each community. Commonly the name of the deceased is not used for some time or the deceased person is called by another name. In some communities, photographs or stories of the deceased are not to be used without the express permission of relevant family members. Advice should be sought from the Kowanyama Aboriginal Shire Council when arranging to visit the community to determine the possible impact of current sorry business. In instances where council representatives cannot be reached, please contact the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnership's representative. Essential services such as policing, child safety, health, education and justice still continue throughout this period.

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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:

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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

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More information


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