The townsite of Coorow was gazetted in 1893, and the name is derived from the Aboriginal name of a nearby spring, first recorded in 1872. The meaning of the name may be from the word “Curro”, which is the Aboriginal word for a variety of Portulacca, or another source gives it as “many mists”.
The name ‘Coorow’ was first used by Surveyor John Forrest who recorded a nearby feature as Coorow Spring in his field book. Predictably no one knows for certain what the word ‘coorow’ means but the popular versions are either a corruption of the Aboriginal word ‘curro’ used to describe a portulaca (a local plant with pink flowers) or a word meaning ‘place of many mists’.
The railway line arrived in 1894 and the Midland Railway Company established farms along the line which they sold as going concerns in 1912. The townsite was officially declared in 1911, a tent school began lessons in 1912 (with eight students) but the town only had one shop until about 1920. The town’s large and interesting hotel was completed in 1930.
In spite of this the town’s development was slow. The Post Office didn’t arrive until 1956 and a non-denomination protestant church wasn’t completed until 1959.
Today Coorow is the headquarters of a shire which covers 4137 sq km, has a population of slightly less than 1500 (there are only about 240 people living in the town) and yet from only 108 rural holdings produces (in 1987/88) 43,100 tonnes of wheat, 19,400 tonnes of lupins and 2 723 890 kg of wool from 455 000 sheep. These figures are typical of the productivity of the whole of the fertile Central West.