Karrinyup is derived from an Aboriginal word meaning 'the place where bush kangaroos graze'. Rapid growth began in 1957 and most of the houses are relatively modern.
The name "Karrinyup" was derived from the name of a local swamp called "Careniup", an Aboriginal word apparently meaning 'the place where bush kangaroos graze'. It was modified to its present form by the Lake Karrinyup Country Club in 1929.
Land at Karrinyup was first granted to Samuel Moore in the early 1840s. The property passed through many hands in the 19th Century until being acquired by W. Maley in 1909. Charles Stoneman subdivided another grant in the Karrinyup area into sixth-of-an acre lots in 1904. Many of these blocks were sold over the next ten years, however no roads were built and few houses constructed.
Development of a golf course began in the late 1920s on land previously owned by Maley. For many years, the Lake Karrinyup Country Club was the only significant development in the area.
Rapid growth in Karrinyup did not begin until 1957, when the 1904 subdivision was redesigned to allow extensive residential development. The dominant forms of dwellings in Karrinyup are single detached residences. The western sector of the suburb also contains a substantial number of duplex and unit developments.
Most of the houses in Karrinyup are relatively modern, though the prolonged period of development has resulted in a range of styles from various eras. Many of the homes within the suburb are of 2 storeys and the vast majority are of brick-and-tile construction.
The Karrinyup Shopping Centre provides the commercial focus for the suburb and contains a wide range of retail services. The area also hosts many parks and reserves, including both public and private golf courses.
The Lake Karrinyup Country Club is located to the northeast of the suburb, while the City's Hamersley Golf Course is situated on the western border of Karrinyup. Numerous parks and reserves offer additional active and passive recreational facilities.
Karrinyup contains several public and private primary schools, as well as Saint Mary's Anglican Girls' School. The local population is also provided with a community centre and library.