Balcatta, meaning ‘his hill’, was predominantly used for market gardening until the 60s and 70s, when industries moved into the area and blue-collar workers began to establish homes.
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.
Before the 1960s, land at Balcatta was predominantly used for market gardening and other rural activities. But, as residential development progressed rapidly from the late 60s, blue-collar workers began to establish homes in the area to be close to workplaces—yet the movement of industries to the area did not begin in earnest until the 1970s.
Dwellings in Balcatta are mainly single detached residences, although a number of unit developments exist within the eastern sector between Main Street and Wanneroo Road. Houses are generally made of brick and tile with many reflecting a southern European influence in their design. Character housing can be found in the area east of Main Street—these are generally older, timber-framed dwellings that housed the majority of market gardeners before Balcatta’s suburban development.
Commercial and community development
Balcatta contains two shopping centres:
- Northlands Plaza on Wanneroo Road, serving district shopping needs
- Amelia Heights centre, catering for local requirements.
Several parks in the Balcatta area offer a range of facilities, including:
- Richard Guelfi Field and Jones Paskin Reserve, which both have playing fields
- Grindleford Reserve and Macedonia Park, both home to soccer
- Rickman Delawney Reserve with its own tennis courts.
Four primary schools are located in the area and Balcatta Senior High School provides secondary education for local students.
The industrial area to the north of Balcatta is home to numerous businesses, including the offices of the Water Corporation and Western Power.
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.