As far as historical records go Monaro was first sighted by white men in June of 1823 when Captain John Currie, R.N., Brigade Major Ovens and Joseph Wilds travelled past Lake George along the east bank of the Murrumbidgee River to a few miles on the southern side of the Bredbo River. They reported seeing good open downs. Following their report settlement extended south to Monaro, but specific pioneering records are very few. In 1827 Richard Brooks settled at Gegedzerick, near Berridale, with servants and stock.
A Court of Petty Sessions was constituted for Cooma in 1827. This was also constituted for the squatting district of Monaro. The Crown Lands Commissioner for the district, Mr. John Lambie, was appointed Chief Magistrate.
In 1849 the Village of Cooma was surveyed and a design officially approved. Apparently the influence of Commissioner Lambie was responsible for the survey being made of Cooma instead of Bunyan, then called Reid's Flat or Jew's Flats.
In 1850 the first sales of village lands were held, the Police Act was extended to Cooma in 1855; in 1869 to 1870 a permanent Common was dedicated and in November 1879 Cooma was proclaimed a Municipality. The main boundaries, notified originally in 1855, were amended in 1924.
Before proclamation of the village, settlement had been mainly from the junction of the Cooma and Lambie Creeks along Lambie Street on the Royal side. Although. settlement continued to spread along and near Lambie Street after 1849 the business and official centre was definitely taking place near Sharp and Vale Streets and this movement was hastened by the "Kiandra Gold Rush" of 1860. A Census in 1856 gave a population of 1,177 males and 832 females in the Cooma district.
Land ownership proceeded steadily on sheep and cattle "runs", ownership being determined first by occupation and running of stock then upon licensed space based upon approximate particulars of area and grazing capacity. In 1848 a list of 147 claimants for leases of their Runs was gazetted. Leases were issued and after that surveys were put in hand.
The phenomenal Gold Rush to Kiandra in 1860, emphasises the importance of mining in the history of Monaro. At one stage it was estimated 15,000 people were on the field. Working out of the surface alluvial, fear of winter climate and the attraction of other fields particularly at Lambing Flat, caused the great exodus after two years. Gold was mined at Bushy Hill, little more than a mile from the Cooma Railway Station in 1897 and 1898, but there was little persistent work. Other minerals prospected in the district have been copper at the Kyloe mine near Adaminaby produced a large amount between 1901 and 1913, silver, tin, zinc, lead, manganese, tungsten, molybdenite and quantities of barytes.
Other important events in Cooma's history are: Local Government, since March 1880; Rail Service, since 1892; Water Supply, since 1912; Electricity, since 1922; Sewerage, since 1937.
The "Alpine Pioneer", Monaro's first newspaper was published in Kiandra in 1860 and 1861 and it's plant was then moved to Cooma for the production of the "Monaro Mercury" in 1862. A rival '.The Cooma Express," appeared in March, 1879. From Ist January, 1932, the "Mercury" was incorporated with the "Express", which since 1st January, 1950, has born the title of the "Cooma Monaro Express".
Banking facilties are provided in Cooma by local branches of the Commonwealth Bank and the Commonwealth Tradings Bank, the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney Ltd. (since 1860), The Bank of New South Wales (since 1874), and the Rural Bank. In later years a branch of the A.N.Z. bank was opened.
Cooma Public School was built in 1863. The sight, which has been added to since, is still occupied by a mixed collection of buildings housing the Cooma Primary School and the Cooma Infants School. In addition a High School has been erected on Mittagang Road in the S.M.A. section of Cooma North. A very useful adjunct to all schools is the Presbyterian War Memorial Hostel which accommodates children attending school from outside the town.
The present population is somewhere in the vicinity of 9,000 people. Cooma now has a Commercial Airport, which is situated 10 miles on the Berridale side of Cooma.