Origin of name
The town of Cooroy, initially spelled Coorooey, takes its name from the nearby mountain originally called Kurui, meaning possum, by the local Gubbi Gubbi people.
History of settlement
Timber getters began arriving in the area in the 1860s in search of the magnificent cedars and other rainforest trees. By 1885, the land around Cooroy had been selected and some freeholded. That year, however, the Queensland Government resumed and alienated 5,507 acres as a timber concession to Dath Henderson and Co, operators of sawmills in Brisbane and Tewantin. The opening of the railway in 1891 resulted in increased timber harvesting. Log timber and produce were loaded at Cooroy station destined for Brisbane and goods and mail were received at the new post office. Horse drawn coaches transferred mail, goods and passengers to the coastal resorts.
In 1902, the ‘township’ of Cooroy was described as ‘a collection of huts and tents of timber workers clustered around the railway’. The only buildings were the Station Master’s residence and the office of James Duke, manager of operations for Dath Henderson, who would become the inaugural Chairman of Noosa Shire following its formation in 1910. JL Boden established the original store in 1906 on railway land. After the termination of the timber concession in 1907, the town survey and re-opening of land for selection, Boden secured one of the best sites in Maple Street at the first land sale of the newly surveyed agricultural farms and town lots, known as the Cooroy Estate, held on 24 April, 1908.
Initially flourishing with the arrival of the railway, the timber and dairy industries rapidly grew with the arrival of selectors, many from the Northern Rivers and Illawarra districts of New South Wales. Cooroy quickly became a thriving township. The land was cleared for dairying, sugar cane, and fruit and vegetable growing. Fenwicks sawmill was built in 1908 to process the plentiful timbers and supply the local demand for building material. The mill changed ownership several times and was one of the town’s main employers until its closure in 2000, as a result of the Regional Forests Agreement.
In 1909, the first school opened with 67 pupils. By 1910 three banks and the Wimmers Cordial Factory had been established, and a hotel and several cottages were under construction. According to census figures, the population numbered 410 in 1911. The following 10 years showed rapid growth, second only to that of very recent times. The Butter Factory, constructed in 1915, prospered for 30 years but then struggled, eventually closing in 1975, about the same time as the collapse of the dairy, fruit growing and sugar cane industries. The brickworks survived until 2010. Many farms were sold for subdivision and the 2011 census recorded 3,459 residents.
In 2015, the Wimmers Cordial Factory, incorporating Cooroy Mountain Spring Water, is the sole remaining original entity. The Butter Factory, now operated by Council, is an arts and crafts centre. The district is home to many small cottage industries. Many early buildings on Maple, Elm and Diamond Streets remain helping Cooroy, the town that grew up around a timber camp, retain its gentle rural ambience.