South Perth is a residential
suburb 3 kilometres (2 mi) south
of the central business
district of Perth, the capital of Western Australia, which adjoins
the southern shore of Perth
Water on the Swan River. The suburb adjoins two major arterial
roads—Canning Highway and the
Freeway—and is within the City of South Perth local government
South Perth is an expensive area for land due to its location near
the river and central business district. Consequently, there are a
comparatively high number of highrise apartment towers in the
suburb, generally near the foreshore. There are also a number of
large mansions. Significant numbers of townhouses and some older
houses fill out the suburb.
The history of the area now known as South Perth before permanent
settlement was broadly similar to
that in other parts of what became the Swan River Colony
. The area was probably
inhabited by peoples of the Noongar
and they had little contact with other peoples. Early Dutch and French explorers
reported their presence, but no recorded contact was made.
No contact is known to have been made with travellers from any
other country. The Dutch expedition commanded by Willem de Vlaming
in 1697 was the first to
discover the major river and note the presence of black swans
on the river. They named it the Swan
Early European settlement
permanent settlement of the British and the
establishment of the Swan River Colony, most development tended to
take place north rather than south of the Swan River in the town of
Perth and also in Fremantle, the port suburb.
1845 map of South Perth by A
The area was already
unofficially known as "South Perth" but was relatively untouched.
By 1831, the land along the river frontage had been allocated
amongst seven people, and the land was being partially utilised for
and dairy farms
. A mill
in 1833 and a ferry
across the Swan river via
the Narrows was established.
There was some conflict between the European settlers and Indigenous Australians
, in which one
of the leaders was a chief known as Yagan
After his death, local leadership went to a chief variously known
as Galute or Kalyute. He led further resistance, but this was
countered by a punitive
, which resulted in the deaths of fifteen Aboriginal
people and the end of organised resistance.
By the 1850s, there was some further development of the area, with
more ferry connections and the construction of the Causeway and the
Canning Bridge. The area was further surveyed and lots allocated to
pensioners. By 1858, the area was officially marked on maps as
"South Perth" and some roads had been constructed.
The 1860s saw the realisation that large-scale farming in the
district had no future, although dairying, timber cutting and
vegetable growing continued. By the 1880s, a number of Chinese gardeners
had arrived and they set up market
gardens on land on the foreshore, between Suburban Road (now
Mill Point Road) and the Swan River. After the discovery of
gold in Kalgoorlie in 1893, a number of Chinese, who had been unable
to take up Miners Rights in the goldfields for racial reasons,
joined them in South Perth.
The Chinese worked very hard and
grew good quality fruit and vegetables, which the local population
were happy to buy. It wasn't until the 1920s that the Chinese
started to market their produce to the wider population of Perth
via the James Street markets. The Chinese market gardens
successfully operated for many years, despite many attempts by
local authorities to serve them with notices allegeing
uncleanliness or health hazards. They lasted until the 1950s.
With the help of convict labour
district received more settlement and better roads. Nevertheless,
the South Perth area still had a small population.
The 1880s South Perth land boom
estate boom of the 1880s, which coincided with the discovery of
gold in the Kimberley saw a slow but appreciable growth in the number of
South Perth foreshore
Several of Perth's more substantial citizens saw
South Perth as a peaceful and tranquil suburb, and by the end of
the 1890s, the population was about 400, with many elegant homes.
The Zoological Gardens
and the Royal Perth
Club were opened in 1898 and the area
became popular with tourists from the town of Perth across the
The Perth Zoo
is located in the suburb of
South Perth. It is open every day of the year and its exhibits
include Australian wildlife, as well as exotic and rare animal
species. It opens from 9 am to 5 pm daily with additional hours
during summer and special events.
The Old Mill
The Old Mill
is visible to people
driving south over the Narrows Bridge.
The South Perth foreshore (Sir James Mitchell Park) is a stretch of
park lands along the foreshore. It is dotted with gazebos, family
picnic areas and barbecue facilities. It is adjacent to the
River, stretching between the Narrows Bridge and the Causeway
It has paths for bicycling and walking. Along it
there are two ferry terminals; the main one at Mends Street
(servicing the Zoo and Mends Street area) and a less-serviced one
at Coode Street which runs only during peak period during week
- The History of South Perth, by F K Crowley. Rigby Limited
- Peninsula City, by Cecil Florey. City of South Perth 1995
- http://www.stmarysperth.com - History of St Mary's Church,