The Moree area was originally inhabited by the Kamilaroi Aborigines. Major Thomas Mitchell was the first European recorded in the region. He travelled within 10 kilometres of current-day Moree in 1832. Squatters arrived soon after. The 'Moree' run was taken up in 1844. The name comes from an Aboriginal word which may mean 'long waterhole', 'spring' or 'rising sun'. James and Mary Brand, together with their three children, arrived at the site in 1851. James Brand opened the first store at the townsite the next year. A post office was opened in 1853. The Brand family sold their business to Donald Munro in 1857 and moved to Singleton. James died the next year and in 1859 Mary returned to Moree (now with six children in tow), planning to repurchase the store. When this was unsuccessful she opened another business and in 1861 established Moree's first inn, which later became the Bank Hotel. Mary Brand's grave and that of her daughter – the first white baby born in Moree – are located in the Moree cemetery. She is also commemorated in the town's Mary Brand Park. Today, a Port Jackson figtree and two smaller fig trees planted by Munro around 1857 remain as reminders of Moree's original store. 

 In February 1862 the Moree townsite was gazetted. The first town land had been sold within a year. Court services began in 1862-63. The town was almost entirely submerged by floods in 1864. Severe flooding occurred again in 1910 and 1955. In 1865 the first policeman was stationed at Moree. A police station was also constructed during that year. Moree's first Wesleyan (Methodist) Church was constructed in 1867, at which time the town had a population of 43 residents. By 1881 the population had increased to 295 residents. Banking began at Moree in 1876. The CBC Bank established itself at Moree circa 1884. The Moree Plains Gallery is now located in the former CBC Bank and manager's residence, which was built in Edwardian Baroque-style in 1910. It replaced the previous building which was destroyed by fire in 1908. In 1890 Moree became a municipality. 

The railway from Narrabri reached Moree in 1897. The first bore into the Great Artesian Basin at Moree was completed in 1895. Originally intended to supply irrigation water for agricultural purposes, the water gained more fame for its use in Moree's hot artesian baths, which are said to heal numerous ailments. An unusual Edwardian-style building constructed as a residence and hospital under the instruction of Dr Martin Magill in 1900 later became the Moree Club (it is no longer used for this purpose). In 1928 fires destroyed a substantial part of Moree's business sector. The double-storey, brick, Edwardian-style Imperial Hotel (1929) and the concrete two and three storey Max Hotel (1930) were both constructed after the fire. Though rebuilding commenced almost immediately after the combination of fire and floods over time has impacted on the town's historic buildings. 

Two of the more interesting architectural examples remaining are the lands office and courthouse. The Edwardian lands office building was constructed as a single storey timber building circa 1893, and was raised up in 1903. Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, writer Charles Dickens' youngest son, worked for the Lands Department in Moree from 1900 until his death in 1902. He is buried in the Moree cemetery. Fire extensively damaged the building in 1980 but it has since been restored. The courthouse (1903) is a brick and stone construction and features gambrel roofs. It is the third courthouse built on the site (the previous buildings were constructed in 1876 and 1885 respectively). The Vicarage at the All Saints Anglican Church dates back to 1906, while construction of the church building itself began in the 1930s but was not completed due to a lack on funding. A hurricane damaged the church in 1948 and after rebuilding the new All Saints Church was consecrated in November 1951. Moree, known as the 'Artesian Spa Capital of Australia', is located 607 kilometres north-west of Sydney at the junction of the Gwydir and Mehi Rivers. The rich black soil of the surrounding district produces cotton, wheat and olives.