Before European settlement, Aboriginal people lived on the Monaro for more than 20,000 years. They roamed widely and had complex interrelationships between tribes. The main group was the Ngarigo who moved in and out of the region according to the seasons.
In 1823, explorers Currie and Ovens met with members of the Ngarigo group who described extensive treeless downs in the south, called the area ‘Monaroo’. In 1827 cattle were brought from Sydney and the area quickly became popular with settlers. The Aboriginal name ‘Kuma’ was changed to Cooma by William Bradley and used for his 19,000 acre run. The village of Cooma was surveyed in 1849.
Discovery of gold in the 1860s at Kiandra brought a permanent increase in Cooma’s population, and the railway opened in 1889. Cooma was booming and prosperous and by 1900 the town boasted its ‘Regional Capital’ status with many grand official buildings.