Woodlands is part of the original 'Woodlands Estate', which was owned by John Daniel Manning. Part of the area that is now Woodlands was originally assigned to Thomas William Mews in 1831. However, as Mews could not fulfil the location duties, the grant passed to T. R. C. Walters in 1840. It was later part of the extensive lands owned by John Daniel Manning.
In 1842 the locality was recorded as 'Jackadup', which was the Aboriginal name for the area. This was later adapted to 'Jackadder', the name that is still borne by the lake at the centre of Woodlands.
Development in Woodlands began in earnest in the 1960s and growth is still occurring, as the Floreat Lakes Estate to the south east was only subdivided in 1991 and still contains vacant land.
To echo the title of the suburb, many of the streets in Woodlands are named after trees such as oak, elm, birch, sandalwood and willow.
The parish church of Our Lady of the Rosary was the architectural vision of building supervisor Fr Bonaventure Leahy OP. The building was constructed in 1973 by stonemason Adrian Gosatti using Toodyay stone especially hewn for the project. The church, parish centre, priory and neighbouring school form a historically significant complex, which is valued by local Catholic community and reflects the work of the Dominican Order and growth of Woodlands.