Origin of name
The name Cooran comes from guran or kuran, meaning tall in the Kabi Kabi language. This might refer to Mount Cooran or to the tall Moreton Bay Ash trees found in the area.
History of settlement
Gold was discovered in Gympie in 1867 by James Nash. In 1870 Walter Hay blazed a route between Tewantin and Gympie, which was used by Cobb & Co and other carriers to transport passengers and supplies. A settlement sprang up at one of the stops for the change of horses along the route which became the town of Cooran. The stop known as the Halfway House and Stables was first owned by William Casey and then was purchased by William Martin in 1881.
In 1889 the railway line from Gympie to the newly named Cooran was opened, providing a vital transportation link for goods and passengers going to the goldfields, having first come by sea to Tewantin, and overland via Cobb & Co or other means to Cooran. At that time, Cooran was a terminal station with an elaborate turntable for trains. With the connection of the railway, William Martin vacated the Halfway House and built the Cooran Hotel which he subsequently moved to in its entirety to a site near the railway station and renamed it the Railway Hotel.
In 1890 a police officer was stationed at Cooran, but due to a growing need over the few decades for more of a police presence in Cooran, land was purchased and in 1919 a new police station was erected, and it continued to operate until 1965.
By the early 1900s, Cooran was become a thriving centre for the district, with the main livelihoods being timber and dairying. In 1906 William Martin subdivided ten acres of his land into quarter acre allotments, which he offered for lease for three years free of rent. Houses were erected on some of these allotments and businesses such as a general store, butcher shop, auctioneers and commission agents plus the Commercial Bank of Australia opened for business. Martin also donated two acres for a new school to be constructed in 1906. In 1906, Martin went on to build an Assembly Hall in Cooran, some 60 feet by 25 feet. The Hall was used a Returning Office for elections of the newly formed Noosa Shire Council in 1910 and was the venue for the first meeting of Council that same year. In a later referendum Pomona was chosen to be the headquarters of Noosa Shire Council, beating Cooroy and Cooran for the honour. The Assembly Hall remains in Cooran today, known as the Cooran Memorial School of Arts Hall and is used by the community for a wide range of events and functions.
In 1910 a branch of the Commercial Bank of Australia opened in Cooran and closed during WW2. In 1916, an agency of the English, Scottish and Australian Bank (E S & A) opened in Cooran and operated continuously until it closed in 1968.
Timber was a major industry in the Cooran district from its earliest days. The Straker family played a major part in the development of the industry and were prominent in sawmilling for many years. When Strakers Sawmill closed in 1965, many workers were forced to leave Cooran to find work. Dairying was another significant industry, but by the 1970s dairying was no longer viable for many farmers, and farms began to be being sold off.
Other major industries in Cooran in the early days were McIntyre Precision Machinery, which developed machinery for the macadamia industry, and Alfredson’s Joinery Works, which during the 1930s became a large manufacturing plant producing pre-cut houses, which were transported to aboriginal missions on Cape York.
A private hospital was in operation in Cooran, with a doctor’s practice as part of the hospital in the 1930s. Electricity was connected in 1946, making life a lot easier for residents.
Today life in Cooran is peaceful, and the local residents are very diverse, many artisans with alternative lifestyles add a unique flavour to this little town.