Cooma is the most genuinely multi-cultural rural town in Australia. Originally settled in 1823, it remained the centre of the Monaro grazing area until the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority (now Snowy Hydro) was established in 1949. Workers from all around the world converged on Cooma and the mountain construction sites to build the project, then the largest civil/electrical engineering project undertaken in Australia.
Cooma has developed a growing tourism industry as it the main rest stop for travellers heading to the nearby snow fields. It is known as the ‘Gateway to the Snowy Mountains'.
Monaro High School is the only public high school, serving Cooma and seven neighbouring rural towns and villages such as Berridale, Jindabyne, Nimmitabel, Bredbo and Dalgety. There are two public primary schools - Cooma Public and Cooma North Public School. St Patrick's Parish School (Roman Catholic) caters for Kindergarten to Year 10. Cooma also has a private Christian school that provides education from Kindergarten to Year 9, and will teach Year 10 from 2010. There is also a TAFE NSW Illawarra Institute Cooma Campus.
Cooma has buses and taxis and is serviced by CountryLink buses, which make daily journeys to Canberra and the Bega Valley. Cooma Airport is 15km from the CBD.
Cooma District Hospital serves the town, with more comprehensive services available in Canberra.
Residents enjoy a range of activities including trout fishing, horse riding, rodeos and organised sport.