Rockingham is situated in the Southwest of the most remote island, Perth and is on the south of Fremantle. It is the primary centre of WA. Rockingham was named after the 427-ton ship, the Rockingham. This took some of the first immigrants to Cockburn Sound and reached there in heavy weather on the afternoon of 13 May 1830. It was departed ashore and destroyed. The early settlement grew known as “Rockingham Town.”
The first European to traverse the coast around Rockingham was Willem de Vlamingh in 1696. He was exploring for the lost ship, Ridderschap van Holland. Between 1801 and 1804 the shore around Rockingham was investigated by the Frenchman, Nicholas Baudin, who suggested Garden and Carnac Islands respectively Ile Buache and Ile Berthellet. He also called Cape Peron, now recognised as Point Peron.
Captain Stirling explored the area in 1829 and wrote that at “Buache Island, we found freshwater by digging in the sand. I had a well-made, fifty yards from shore, and it was instantly filled with fresh water.” Stirling concluded that Garden Island (he renamed it) would be a fit position for the earliest settlement in Western Australia.
The first settlement of Rockingham happened when Thomas Peel (cousin of the British Prime Minister) came with a group of immigrants aboard the ship Gilmore which secured in Cockburn Sound on 15 December 1829. They were ensued shortly afterward by the two more vessels, the Hooghly (a ship of 465 tons) and the Industry (87 tons)
Because the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir George Murray, had required that the colony be started by 1 November 1829, Peel’s award was cut to from 1 million acres to 250 000 acres (101 000 ha). He was being executed for being six weeks delayed.
Peel was raging that his original land grant had been lessened. But Captain Stirling urged him to get up land south of Woodman’s Point which he named Clarence, in recognition of the Duke of Clarence.
The settlement at Clarence was a failure. But the settlers were not authorised to pass until the arrival of the Rockingham (427 tons) which had been suspended. It appeared in heavy weather on the afternoon of 13 May 1830 and finished up broken on the shore.
It took added 25 years before the city was formally declared a townsite. It was from Rockingham’s borders that the political detainees, the Fenians, flew to America on the Catalpa, ousted shortly by the Georgette. A memorial to the Irish men’s request for freedom stands on Rockingham’s foreshore.
The Inner Harbour at Fremantle was built in 1897, and this pointed to the decline of Rockingham as a gate. By 1908 the Rockingham port had been shut down.
By the 1920s Rockingham began to grow a famous seaside tavern for holidaymakers from Perth. The establishing of Kwinana as an industrialised port in the 1950s and the construction of the Naval Support Facility (Fleet Base West HMAS Stirling) at Garden Island in the 1970s led to the townspeople being revitalised.
Today Rockingham is a relaxing day trip from Perth. It has a beautiful beachside ambiance which gives it a refreshing, relatively peaceful, town expelled from the more urgent lifestyle of the centres which rest to the north. There are plenty of things to do in the town centre but if you would like to find out more about our Rockingham car washing service then please follow the link.