Coorparoo is an inner suburb of Brisbane, four km south-east of central Brisbane. The name probably derived from an Aboriginal word describing Norman Creek and its tributaries. Coorparoo is on the eastern side of Norman Creek, a southern tributary of the Brisbane River.
Access to the Coorparoo area in the post-European era was initially by crossing over Norman Creek, at Old Cleveland Road, Stones Corner. A bridge was erected around 1856, which coincided with the sale of land subdivisions averaging 50 acres, most of which became semi-rural estates.
In 1875 the name 'Coorparoo' was adopted by popular assent, and a state primary school opened in Old Cleveland Road in 1876. Three years later, with suburban Brisbane pressing against Norman Creek, the whole of the area to the east of the creek was incorporated as the Bulimba Divisional Board. Coorparoo was administered as Subdivision 3.
A second bridge across Norman Creek was opened at Stanley Street in 1886, in response to Coorparoo's increasing urbanisation, and in 1888 the Coorparoo Shire was formed by severance from Bulimba following local agitation. The new shire included Stones Corner and parts of Holland Park and Camp Hill. The following year the Cleveland railway line opened through the northern part of the shire.
In 1886 a Wesleyan church was opened. Athletic endeavour followed the spiritual several years later, with the formation of various local sporting bodies: Coorparoo Cricket Club (1888), Coorparoo Racecourse (1891), and a tennis club (1893). The timber Wesleyan church remained on Cavendish Road, its shingle roof and bell tower an area landmark. It was replaced in 1959 by the present brick building, now a Uniting Church.
In 1902 an electric tram service began, running along Logan Road to Stones Corner. Most of Coorparoo lay beyond convenient reach of either tram or railway, until the Stones Corner line was extended to Chatsworth Road in 1914, and a new tramline along Cleveland Road to the primary school opened in 1915. Land subdivisions began immediately, including a notable estate the garden village 'Surrey Hill' in Welwyn Crescent and Letchworth Street. Most houses are high-set Queenslanders, in an unadorned interwar style.
By the mid-1920s most of the shire was within 600 metres of a tram or train service, and in 1925 Coorparoo Shire was incorporated in the Greater Brisbane Council. The original Shire Hall, built in 1892 next to the primary school in Cavendish Road, became a school of arts and later an RSL hall (and is listed on the Queensland heritage register).
Methodist and Anglican churches were built in the 1880s, but it was the Catholic Church which developed the strongest presence, with St James at Stones Corner (1913), Our Lady of Mt Carmel, the Regina Caelli parish (1953), and a fourth church at Camp Hill (also 1953). At various times there have been four Catholic schools operating.
Coorparoo Shire's population doubled during the period between 1911 and 1921 and by 1976 Coorparoo's population had reached 13,000, a level at which it has plateaued. Catholic schools and a technical school provided secondary education, until a state high school opened in 1963 on the site of a former racecourse next to Norman Creek. The shopping centre in Old Cleveland Road, west of Cavendish Road, was enlarged in 1960 with the opening of a Myer store (long-since closed) and several additional outlets. Further expansion came with the demolition of the Roxy Cinema.
Coorparoo has Wembley Park and Griffin Park sports area, and several neighbourhood reserves. (Langlands Park, originally in Coorparoo, is now in Greenslopes.) The technical school is today a TAFE college, while Loretto (1928) and Villanova (1954) remain important secondary colleges. They occupy the original Langlands and Kemedine Estates, both of which were built for Reuben Nicklin in the 1880s. There are also Catholic primary schools, St James (1916) and Our Lady of Mt Carmel (1941). In 2013 the State government announced plans to close nine schools including Coorparoo State High School, which was proposed to become a campus of the flagship Brisbane State High School.
The shire hall/school of arts/RSL hall in Cavendish Road at Halstead Street is listed on the Queensland heritage register. Also listed is the grand Queen Alexandra Home (1886, 1912) next to the State primary school.
In January 2011 the flooding from Norman Creek behaved almost exactly as indicated by the street directories. All the open spaces in the vicinity of the railway station went under water, stopping at the edge of the bowls club but invading a few houses next to Bridgewater Creek, a tributary of Norman Creek.
Coorparoo Shire and Coorparoo Suburb's census populations have been:
The Brisbane centenary official historical souvenir, Brisbane, Watson, Ferguson & Co, 1924
Coorparoo state school centenary, souvenir history 1876-1976, Brisbane, Coorparoo State School, 1976
Michael Endicott, Coorparoo Stones Corner retrospect, Manly Vale, NSW, Augustinian Historical Commission, 1979
Rod Fisher and Barry Shaw, eds, Brisbane: people, places and progress, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane History Group, 1995
Judy Gale Rechner, The old Coorparoo Shire, Brisbane History Group Inc, 1991
Leslie E. Slaughter, Coorparoo Stones Corner centenary 1856-1956, Brisbane, L.E. Slaughter, 1956