Churchlands received its name after the land was sold to Catholic Bishop Matthew Gibney, and little development occurred in Churchlands until extensive subdivisions took place the 1980s. Herdsman Lake is the most significant landmark in the area.
Becoming known as Churchlands after the Catholic Church purchased it in 1891, European settlement of the area actually began when land was granted to Henry Trigg in 1831 and the Hokin family in 1834.
Both were grants of 200 acres, later acquired by William Strickland, who later sold the land to Perth's Roman Catholic Bishop, the Right Reverend Matthew Gibney. But little residential development occurred in Churchlands until the 1980s, when extensive subdivisions took place near Herdsman Lake. Development is still underway in the north-eastern part of Churchlands, now referred to as Floreat Lakes.
Residential dwellings are characterised by large, modern two storey designs that have an average lot size of 850 m2 while the popularity of infill development has resulted in duplexes and units becoming a significant form of residential construction throughout the area.
An Edith Cowan University (ECU) campus also used to be in the area, which started life as Churchlands Teachers College in 1972 before becoming part of the university in 1980, offering a diverse range of courses including business, education, nursing, science and engineering. But this changed when ECU decided to leave the site and consolidate its Mount Lawley and Joondalup campuses.
A small deli and growers' market on Flynn Street meet local shopping needs.
A significant landmark is Herdsman Lake, an important regional recreational area and wildlife sanctuary offering a number of educational and passive recreational opportunities for local residents and the wider community.