Until the late 1900s, cattle and timber were Drake's primary industries, as well as a campsite for wagons, drovers, bullock teams and settlers passing between inland and coastal rivers. A shanty village of hotels, boarding houses, churches, timber cottages and tents in the 1870s, gold was discovered by accident just below Newmans Pinch on the western side of the village. Since then, Drake has changed many times over, with rushes and declines, riches and poverty, a population of thousands, and barely 100. Timber and cattle grazing industries are still practised, and mining has been reduced to fossicking.
Now Drake offers a variety of bush holidays, home stays, caravan park, camping, fishing, bushwalking, horse trail rides and mountain bike riding, as well as a gallery showing local talented artists in the community centre.