Cookernup's name derives from an Aboriginal name meaning "the place of the swamp hen" (cooki). The first settler, Joseph Logue, came to the area in 1852 with his extended family in search of good farming land, acquiring a 9,000 ha grant which he called Kookernup. He later settled on the north bank of a nearby brook, now called Logue Brook.
The area was important in the milling and transport of local timber, with a railway reserve being constructed for timber stacking. In the early 1890s, Cookernup had a much greater population than Harvey, and had a school and telegraph office several years earlier.
The population of the town was 59 (35 males and 24 females) in 1898.
Cookernup is a small agricultural town with services offered from nearby Harvey, and there have been applications for subdivision in the area. However, a 5 km buffer zone around the Alcoa Wagerup alumina refinery was doubled by the Health Department following the approval of a $1.5 billion expansion to the refinery. In August 2008, Alcoa had bought over 40 local properties. As of 2015, Alcoa's purchases made little to no impact to Cookernup, with the majority of properties being purchased in nearby Yarloop.
Cookernup has experienced steady growth in recent years, with several houses being built a year. Cookernup has a fire brigade, town hall, general store, large exercise area and playground.
Nearby Logue Brook Dam (6 km to the east), set in jarrah forests on the western boundary of the Murray State Forests, has a number of camping, accommodation and recreational facilities, and offers bushwalking, horse-riding, waterskiing, canoeing and ropes courses.
Warawarrup (5 km to the south) is a small village and home to the Harvey Trotting Track. It was originally planned as a growth area, but the growth failed to eventuate.
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- Australian Bureau of Statistics (25 October 2007). "Community Profile Series : Cookernup (L) (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2006 Census of Population and Housing. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- Western Australian Land Information Authority. "History of country town names – C". Retrieved 17 January 2007.
- Shire of Harvey. "Local Towns - Cookernup". Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2006.
- "POPULATION OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA". Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 - 1954). Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 22 April 1898. p. 23. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
- Taylor, Robert (15 September 2006). "Housing plan tied to $1.5b Alcoa expansion". The West Australian.
- "Four o-clock Report" (PDF). Harvey Shire. The Harvey Reporter. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- Map of Cookernup (Shire of Harvey)