Celebrating the City of Choice
The City of Stirling has a culturally diverse and thought-provoking history and it is proud to be celebrating the following milestones in 2021:
- 150th anniversary of the formation of the Perth Road Board (1871)
- 60th anniversary of the Shire of Perth (1961-1971)
- 50th anniversary of the City of Stirling (1971-2021).
The story of the City of Stirling dates back to 1871 when the area was part of a 647 square kilometre area governed by the Perth Road. Fast forward to 1961 and the Perth Road Board became the Shire of Perth and a decade later, in 1971 the shire was renamed the City of Stirling.
Recognising and celebrating local history remains a constant for the City with the Mount Flora Regional Museum continuing to provide a window into the past. Housed in an old water tank that dates back to the 1940s, the museum in Watermans Bay offers a look through our social history with fascinating photographs and artefacts.
Every two years, the City hosts its History and Heritage Awards program to acknowledge residents, business owners and groups preserving or promoting local heritage within the community. In addition, the heritage restoration grants program developed by the City, offers incentives to property owners who retain and enhance local heritage buildings.
The City’s Heritage Marker Program offers a glimpse into local history by highlighting local buildings, places or landmarks of significant including important Nyoongar sites, schools, churches and classic homes.
With lots of ongoing opportunities to reflect on our broader Indigenous history, our community history and our combined local achievements, the City remains equally committed to recognising our past while creating a better future.
Throughout 2021 the City will be running a series of events and programs to commemorate its 50th anniversary.
Part of a region that has been home to Wadjak Nyoongar people for more than 40,000 years, the City of Stirling sits on land known as Mooro Country. The Mooro Country area extends from the Indian Ocean in the west to Ellenbrook in the east, then from the Swan River in the south and beyond Yanchep to the north.
Wadjak is one of 14 language groups in the Nyoongar nation that originated across the south west of Western Australia. When colonisation began in 1829, Yellagonga was the Elder of the Wadjak people who occupied Mooro country. Yellagonga’s people, like their ancestors before them, seasonally migrated from the coastal wetland areas in summer/autumn (bunuru/djeran) to inland areas in winter/spring (djilba/kamberang).
A coastal wetlands trail for Nyoongar people extended from the Swan River along a chain of lakes through to Yanchep. The Nyoongar community regards this chain of lakes as “all the same water” and share the ideal “one water, many lakes”.
Today, Aboriginal Heritage Sites are registered at each of the lakes in this chain, making Gwelup, Star Swamp and Herdsman significant sites within the City of Stirling for the Nyoongar people.
Recognising and celebrating
To honour the history of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the City of Stirling remains committed to recognising and celebrating their contribution to our community. From the annual NAIDOC Week and Reconciliation Walk events, to ensuring that Indigenous culture forms part of City activities such as the Tree Trail, we continue to place great importance on the rich history and culture of Aboriginal people.
Migrants play an important part in the City of Stirling story, with Chinese and European settlers helping drive a growth in agriculture in the early 1900s. While moving to a new country with a different language would have provided its own challenges, migrants went on to deliver successful market gardens in suburbs including Osborne Park.
By the late 1940s, the local population had grown to 31,000 people and suburban subdivisions were taking shape. Suburb names were derived from Aboriginal words such as Yokine (dingo/native dog), Coolbinia (mistletoe) and Nollamara (black kangaroo paw).
Other suburbs were named after local figures including Mount Lawley, which recognised the former WA Governor Sir Arthur Lawley. Not far from Mount Lawley, the suburb of Menora has a strong association with the Jewish community and its name refers to the menorah – a seven-branched candelabrum used in Jewish religious ceremonies.
Today, the City of Stirling is a thriving multicultural hub that covers approximately 100 square kilometres. Home to approximately 220,000 people, the City stretches across 30 suburbs from Dianella in the east, Trigg to the west, Hamersley to the north and Mount Lawley in the south. The diverse nature of the City landscape encompasses 6.5km of coastline, 616 ha of natural bushland and more than 98,000 properties.
The story of the City of Stirling dates back to 1871, when it formed part of a 647 square kilometre area governed by the Perth Road Board. At that time, the total population across Western Australia accounted for just 25,000 people. The area managed by the Perth Road Board was either rural or completely undeveloped and included land areas that would later become the cities of Wanneroo, Bayswater and Belmont.
During its first 20 years, the Perth Road Board dedicated the majority of its time and funds to constructing and repairing roads and bridges. A makeshift road made from wooden planks connected isolated rural areas on the coast with Scarborough and Innaloo. That plank road was effectively an early version of Scarborough Beach Road.
Early pioneers faced extremely harsh conditions and suffered considerable hardship in their efforts to develop and farm the virgin bushland. During pioneering times, the long-gone Balcatta Hotel on Wanneroo Road would offer respite for travellers returning from the rigours of the north-west stock route.
The Local Government Act 1960 was passed in July 1961 with road boards becoming shires and uniform legislation put in place to govern cities, towns and shires. That same year, the Perth Road Board became the Shire of Perth with a population of approximately 84,000 people.
City of Stirling Administration Building
A decade later, the Shire of Perth was renamed the City of Stirling in 1971 with its population almost doubled to 160,000 people. The change to become a City was introduced in conjunction with the 100th anniversary since the establishment of the original Perth Road Board.