The history of the township of Cooma

The first known reference to "Cooma" was by John Lhotsky, who travelled from the Limestone Plains to Pass Britannis in 1834. On February 13th of that year he arrived at "Reid's Flat" (Dr Reid is reputed to have brought the first sheep to the Monaro) - now called Bunyan. Several days later Lhotsky travelled five miles and came upon Kuma Hut, made of sheets of bark nailed to timber poles. The name "Cooma" was then used by William Bradley as the name of the 19,000 acre sheep run in this area.

Mosaic Mural - Setllers

Mosaic Tile Picture from the Cooma Monaro Time Walk, Centennial Park, Cooma

[John Lhotsky described, in his diary, a typical Sunday on the Monaro as he saw it. "It is usual among the men of Menero (another spelling) to pass their Sundays in mutual calls, having shaved and cleaned themselves. However, all look extremely masculine, and the conversation also is mostly confined to the topic, 'In such-and-such a hut, they have grog'."]

John Lambie came to Australia in 1828 and worked as a Surveyor in the Survey Department in Sydney. He became prominent as a road builder, and Mt Lambie - North-West of Lithgow - was named for him. He was appointed first Commissioner of Crown Lands for the district of Maneroo, which extended from Michelago Creek to Ninety Mile Beach and from the Snowy Mountains to the coast.

Lambie resided in Yass and Braidwood before settling at Back Creek, which became Cooma Village in 1849. Lambie Street (Cooma's oldest street) and Commissioner Street both led to his home.

John Lambie's Headstone
John Lambie's grave at Christ Church


Mosaic Mural - Settlers 2

The initial settlement of Cooma (surveyed in 1849) was located in the Lambie Street and Back Creek area. Land sales commenced in 1850.

Mosaic Tile Picture from the Cooma Monaro Time Walk, Centennial Park, Cooma

The Kiandra Goldrush of 1860 brought in men of many trades, and some of those who were unsuccessful on the field stayed to ply their original trades in the small towns, or to work for the landholder.

The banks were among the first to descend on the town when gold was discovered. The first bank manager (from the Commercial Banking Company) was keen to become involved in the community, and organised a cricket match, which he described in his diary: "The wickets were pitched in the unmetalled street [Lambie Street], sides were chosen and my team composed of squatters, Jews, storekeepers, the police magistrate and a prisoner on bail, scored 97."

Cooma gained electricity in 1922. Power was generated by a steam engine which burned charcoal; the power house was located where Boyce Chartered Accounts now stands (corner of Bombala and Commissioner Streets).