Captain James Stirling named the City in 1827. It is thought that the area was named after Admiral Sir George Cockburn, a well-known British naval officer.
Thomas Peel and his first ship of settlers arrived in Cockburn in December 1829. However, they abandoned their settlement at Clarence between Woodman Point Reserve and Mount Brown by December 1830. After this, some settlers remained in the area or on plots of land nearby.
In the 1870s, a small group of pensioner guards from Fremantle settled around Lake Coogee. They built a small village and established vegetable gardens and orchards. The settlers remained firmly tied to the barracks at Fremantle and the community failed to take root. Another smaller settlement then formed at South Coogee in the deserted village of the pensioner guards. This area became the nursery of market gardening in Cockburn as new settlers learned from established gardeners.
More market gardeners came to Cockburn following Fremantle and Perth’s rapid growth from the gold rush. New migrants were also enticed to Jandakot, whose sandy soil supported a large population influx.
The district began to boom in the 1890s, with Hamilton Hill and Spearwood growing to meet the demands of the metropolitan area for building materials and food.
20th century to the modern day
Many new settlements established throughout Cockburn by 1930. Housing development picked up from the late 1940s, following a slow period during and between the world wars.
Cockburn is now one of the largest growth areas in the south metropolitan region of Perth. Today it is known for its diverse cultural landscape and its industrial and commercial precincts. Despite many changes since European settlement, the City of Cockburn maintains close ties with traditional owners.