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First Nations cultures


Indigenous Knowledge Centres

Napranum: Mary Ann Coconut Library

By Indigenous Services | 28 October 2022

About Mary Ann Coconut

The Mary Ann Coconut Library (Napranum Indigenous Knowledge Centre) has been named in honour of respected Elder, Aunty Mary Ann Coconut. Aunty Mary Ann lives in Napranum and has a long history of active involvement in improving the lives of her people and the community.

Born in 1943, Aunty Mary Ann is a Thaynakwith Elder from Luwang Country and her language name is Amomanja, which means Sugar Glider. From the age of five, Mary Ann lived in the girl’s dormitory and attended Weipa Mission School. She excelled in the Arts and in 1952 received a highly commended award for the Queensland Art competition. In 1957, Mary Ann became a teacher aide and continued to take an active interest in education completing a Bachelor of Community Management from Macquarie University in 2009. In 1963, she married Jerry Coconut and they had seven children. Aunty Mary Ann has contributed greatly to the life of her community. Her achievements include:

  • serving several terms as an elected Councillor
  • active member (alongside her mother) of the Weipa Bicentennial Community Committee in the 1980s, that established the Uningan Nature Reserve and the Bicentennial Community Park. The Uningan Nature Reserve comprises of 2,800 hectares of land on the south side of the Mission River. The Bicentennial Community Park was established on reclaimed land within the Port of Weipa in an area known as Hornibrook Landing. It was significant as the first ever joint project between the Weipa South Council and the Weipa North Town. The map below shows the location of the Uningan Nature Reserve and the Bicentennial Community Park.
  • former Chair of the Napranum Justice Group and has worked tirelessly to bring peace to her community
  • worked closely with Elders to start the first women’s shelter
  • featured in the ‘Elders Hall of Fame’ with the Western Cape Communities Co-Existence Agreement (WCCCA).
Uningan Nature Reserve Map

Uningan Nature Reserve Map

Aunty Mary Ann is passionate about her traditional culture and worked closely with her cousin Dr Thancoupie Fletcher and Thanikwithi families to contribute to a dictionary of Thanikwithi language, which was published in 2007. She studied Theology in the Northern Territory and is a committed Christian.

In December 2020, Aunty Mary Ann held her first Zoom meeting using the donated PC, in the library named after her.

Aunty Mary Ann Coconut

Aunty Mary Ann Coconut

The Mary Ann Coconut Library was established in July 2015; and was officially opened by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk as part of the Napranum Civic Centre Opening on 28 October 2015. After a year of planning the Mary Ann Coconut Library was moved and relocated into the Susie Madua Hall and reopened on 11 October 2021.

Inside the new Mary Ann Coconut Library Location

Inside the new Mary Ann Coconut Library Location

Community History

Napranum Aboriginal Shire Council has a proud connection to the Second World War. Historian, Geoff Wharton OAM, provided an address given at the Napranum War Memorial, 25 April 2017. For further details, click on the link below.

Exploring the collection

If you’d like to explore some of State Library’s collection items relating to Napranum, we have a few suggestions in the links below:


This is the original pise church constructed at the first Weipa Mission Station at Spring Creek on the headwaters of the Embley River in the early 1900s. The site is now known locally as Twenty Mile. 


Moravian missionaries at the Weipa Mission (1898-1932), Cape York Peninsula

The changing place of Aboriginal people within the Weipa region of Cape York is reviewed, from the development of the Comalco mine in the late 1950s and early 1960s through to current negotiations concerning normalisation of the mining town and a proposal to develop an alumina refinery. It is argued that the relationship between Comalco and the Napranum community is unique within the Australian mining industry.

In 2002, the first Indigenous Knowledge Centres (IKCs) were developed in partnership with then Aboriginal Community and Island Councils across Queensland. Seven IKCs were opened in 2002 with many more to follow over the years.

This year thirteen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Shire and Regional Councils will celebrate the role their IKC/s play in their communities, as libraries, meeting places, hubs and keeping places.

IKC 20 years banner


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