North Perth History

Plan of the Municipality of North Perth, c 1910. SLWA 33/15/1E 

Early History   

North Perth lies in a chain of seasonal wetlands important to the Whadjuk Noongar people. There are two Aboriginal heritage sites in North Perth. These are: Goonderup (near the Redemptorist Monastery) and Danjanberup (Smith's Lake). 

Europeans drained or filled many of Perth's wetlands between the 1850's and 1880's. These former wetland areas around North Perth became farms or market gardens.  

John Smith farmed the area around present day Charles Veryard Reserve in the 1840's and 1850's. It appears on early maps of the area as 'Three Island Lake' and was later known as ‘Smith’s Lake’. When Smith leased the farm in 1858, it included a brick cottage, outhouses and a stockyard.  

Thomas Farmer (after whom Farmer Street was later named) was another early land holder in the area. Farmer was a Wesleyan Minister and a vocal temperance advocate. When he died, his wife Lydia sold part of his estate (Swan Location 653) to land developers. 

The WA gold rush of the 1890's saw a dramatic expansion of Perth and growth of new suburbs such as North Perth. In 1898, agents Solomon Herman and T.W. Williams sold hundreds of blocks in various estates in North Perth. Selling former swampland required clever marketing. The developers gave the subdivisions fancy names such as 'Toorak' and 'Woodville'. Advertisements for the land proclaimed it was 'high and healthy.' Proximity to good roads and transport was also a selling feature.

Real estate advertisement for The Percy Estate, Toorak & Woodville, 1987. SLWA 55/14/55  

View looking south on Fitzgerald Street from Raglan Road prior to tramlines, 1905. COV PH01722 

Trams from the city to North Perth ran from the early 1900s until 1958. The first tram line travelled from the city along Bulwer Street to Fitzgerald Street ending at Forrest Street. In 1906, the Fitzgerald Street line extended into Angove Street terminating at Albert Street. The tram line was further extended to Charles Street in 1927.   

Extension of the North Perth Tramway on Fitzgerald Street, North Perth, 1906. COV PH06521 

Early residents of North Perth relied upon tanks and wells for their water. As drainage was poor, flooding was commonplace in low lying areas. Horse and carts ('dunny carts') collected human waste from most homes until well after WWI. From 1890 to 1910, waste was dumped at the Perth Sanitary Depot (now Beatty Park Reserve). Complaints from locals resulted in the depot moving north to Mount Lawley after 1910. 

Civic amenities were also important to the suburb's growth. North Perth's first school opened in on Albert Street in January 1899 with 131 students.  It was first called Woodville School after the earliest subdivision in the area. It was re-named North Perth State School in 1903 and later North Perth Primary School. Joshua Hammill served as the first headmaster from 1899-1913.

Woodville Reserve on Farmer Street, was also established in the early 1900s, with bowling greens and croquet lawns built in 1910, followed by tennis courts in 1915.   

The commercial centre of the suburb was Angove Street, named after government surveyor William Angove. The original North Perth postal service, operated from a shop on the corner of Angove and Woodville Streets from 1902-1916. The North Perth Police Station was built at 81 Angove Street in 1908. 

Angove Street was book-ended by two pubs: the Rosemount Hotel built in 1902 on the corner of Angove and Fitzgerald Streets; and the Wanneroo Hotel (later called the North Perth Hotel) on the corner of Angove and Charles Street (then Wanneroo Road) from 1900 and later demolished in 1962. 

Postcard for the Rosemount Hotel, c 1910.  COV PH02831 

North Perth Hotel, c 1920. SLWA BA533/157

The North Perth Town Hall (Lesser Hall) was built on View Street in 1902, with construction of the main hall completed in 1910. 

Official opening of the North Perth Lesser Hall, 1902. COV PH00484 

From 1901 to 1914, North Perth had its own council based in the North Perth Lesser Hall.  North Perth had six mayors: Richard Haynes (1902-3); Herbert Parker (1904-5); John Milner (1906-09); Robert Gamble (1910); William Randell (1911-1912); Ernest Waugh (1913-1914).  In 1914, the City of Perth took control of all the inner city councils, including North Perth.  It remained part of the greater City of Perth until 1994 when Perth was split into several municipalities, including the Town (later City) of Vincent which included the suburb of North Perth.


Around WWI, North Perth grew further.  In 1915, St Hilda’s Church was built on View Street, across from the original wooden church on Glebe & View Streets where Church of England (Anglican) services were conducted from 1904.  

In 1916, North Perth got its first purpose built Post Office on View Street opposite the North Perth Town Hall.   

In 1926, after many years of operating out of a makeshift fire station on Fitzgerald and Forrest Streets, the North Perth Fire Station was also built on View Street. 

North Perth Fire Brigade Hose Tower, Fitzgerald and Forrest Streets, 1919. COV PH05913. 

North Perth Post Office & Fire Station, View Street, c 1940s. COV PH02886. 

North Perth Fire Brigade on Fitzgerald Street, 1914. COV PH05916 

During the 1920s and 1930s, diverse businesses sprang up along the main transport routes of Charles, Fitzgerald and Angove streets to service the growing number of residents. These businesses ranged from butchers to bakers, hairdressers to hardware shops.

Woodthorpe’s Butchers, Angove & Fitzgerald Streets, c 1920s. COV PH03112. 

In 1927, the 1400 seat Regent Theatre (later re-named the Rosemount Theatre) opened on Fitzgerald Street across from the Rosemount Hotel.  In the early 1930s, the area even had its own miniature golf course (‘Shady Nook’) on Angove Street across from the Rosemount Theatre.   

North Perth was also home to small-scale manufacturing and horticulture.  Browne’s Dairy on Charles Street began production in 1915 and expanded in the 1920s and ‘30s making ice cream, butter and pasteurized milk. 

Browne’s Dairy delivery card, North Perth, 1950.  COV PH02764 

After Smith’s Lake was partially drained in the 1920s it was used for market gardening with several Chinese market gardeners working the land. The Gooey family of Albert Street were well known Chinese market gardeners in the area from the 1920s until the late 1950s.  In 1959, the land was resumed by the Perth City Council and subdivided for housing and made into a recreation reserve named after Councillor Charles Veryard.

Chinese market gardener in North Perth, 1947. COV PH01079. 

During WWII, North Perth residents were on high alert to the threat of attack from Japan.  Local air raid wardens trained citizens to respond to bombings.  Woodville Reserve was equipped with searchlights, anti-aircraft guns and air-raid shelters to help defend and protect local citizens. Students at North Perth Primary School also did routine air-raid drills.  In 1943, students helped level and construct ‘Goonderup Oval’ named for the Noongar name for the area which appeared on old maps. 

North Perth Primary School children planting trees on school oval for official opening of Goonderup Place, 1944. COV PH06151 and 6152.  


In 1945, a new school ‘Kyilla’ opened on Selkirk Street to cater to the growing North Perth community. 

Kyilla Primary School Students, 1953. COV PH06193 

In 1962, North Perth became a sporting beacon for swimmers from around the world with development of the Beatty Park Aquatic Centre which was purpose built for the VIIth British Empire & Commonwealth Games.

Swimmers at Beatty Park, 1963. COV PH02153 

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, affordable land and house prices attracted many European migrants, particularly Greek, Macedonian and Italian migrants.  Later during the 1970s and ‘80s, migrants and refugees from Vietnam, Korea, Burma and other Asian countries also settled in North Perth. 

Italian families on Glebe Street, North Perth, 1963. COV PH02229 

Dancing at the North Perth Ethnic Music Centre, North Perth Town Hall, 1985. COV PH06138 

The diversity of the post-war community was reflected in institutions such as the North Perth Ethnic Music Centre, which operated from the North Perth Town Hall in the 1980s and 1990s. The Ethnic Communities Council of WA established itself in North Perth from 1975 as the umbrella organisation for multicultural groups and communities in the state.   It operated the Multicultural Wellness Centre from Woodville Reserve from the early 1990s until 2017. 

Today, North Perth is home to around 10,000 residents living in around 4,000 households (ABS 2021).  Almost two thirds of residents are Australian-born with England, Italy, Vietnam and New Zealand being the next most common birthplaces. Compared to other Western Australians, residents of North Perth are more likely to be university educated professionals and managers with a higher median weekly income and higher rent or mortgage repayments.  

The media age of North Perth locals is 37 years. Almost half of residents are tertiary educated or have a diploma.

Two thirds of residents own or mortgage their homes; one third rent. As of February 2022, the average house price was $1.03 million and average rental $550 per week.  

The suburb has five public parks; two schools; three pubs; 18 cafes and over 900 dogs!

Native plant sale at North Perth Common, View Street, 2021.