First recorded by Alexander Forrest in 1877, Balcatta is the Aboriginal name for the northern portion of Careniup Swamp, derived from the words "bal" (meaning "his") and "katta" (meaning "hill").
In 1844, a grant of 780 acres was granted to Samuel Moore in an area now covered by Balcatta. After his death in 1875, the land was sold to John Charles Mews for £300 and the first trace of the name Balcatta can be found on the offer for sale by Mews in 1888. Another section of Balcatta was also once part of an extensive grant given to T. R. C. Walters in 1840.
Significant Balcatta landmarks include the limestone pinnacles on the grounds of Balcatta Senior High School, which were unearthed in the 1930s and 1940s as surrounding sand was excavated. The Balcatta industrial area occupies the northern portion of Balcatta and the site is a significant employment centre for the region, offering a range of services including retail, office, wholesale and light industry.