Rockingham is situated on the coast 47 kilometres south of Perth. The Noongar aboriginal people traversed the region for up to 45,000 years until they were joined by the European settlers.
AN ODE TO ROCKINGHAM 1953
'Where the simmering tide and gentle breeze
Lends enchantment lazy and careless,
Where the blue waters rest, from the open seas
And distant reefs show in their bareness;
Where the call of the sunshine and glistening sands
Finds children happy in frolic
And glorious fresh air, is Nature's plan
To make life's beauty exotic.
Where cloudless skies and moonlight nights
When peaceful waters, ebb the shore,
Where stars stud the heavens, like gems alight
And yon, distant, the breakers roar.
Ah! Yes it's a place - a place and a half
To be carefree, healthy and bright,
A place to be cheerful, to sing and to laugh
All day and into the night.
That's Rockingham, folk, the town by the sea
Where worries are seldom and few.
So make it a date, it's never too late
This is Rockingham calling to you.'
(An extract from a poem printed the Coastal Districts Star, Thursday 8 October 1953. Full version here thanks to the magic of Trove - https://bit.ly/37JgfdR)
The city received its name from the sailing ship Rockingham, one of the three vessels that Thomas Peel chartered to carry settlers to Western Australia. The Rockingham was beached in 1830 and eventually abandoned after failed attempts to re-float her. Settlers supposedly camped near the wreck used the name "Rockingham Town" as their address.
Rockingham was first surveyed and lots were offered for sale in 1847. It was not until the development of a railway and jetty in 1872 to transport jarrah timber and sandalwood from Jarrahdale overseas however, that it prospered.
In 1908 the timber port closed due to the opening of deeper ports like Fremantle. Fortunately though this coincided with the arrival of the motor car which gave impetus to the rapid development of the little coastal settlement into a seaside resort town.
Rockingham was a comfortable day trip by motor car from Fremantle and Perth and far enough away that travellers could legally enjoy alcoholic drinks at the Rockingham hotel on Sundays. Holiday shacks were developed in the town, and by the 1970s Rockingham had also become popular with retirees
Today the City of Rockingham has a population of around 134,000 people. It has a rapidly developing residential area, with substantial industrial and commercial areas and a naval area on Garden Island 13km offshore.