Watermans Bay, Western Australia

Watermans Bay is a northern coastal suburb of Perth, the capital city of Western Australia. Its local government area is the City of Stirling.

Watermans Bay
PerthWestern Australia
Waterman ocean view.jpg
View towards the ocean at sunset from Watermans Bay
Watermans Bay is located in Perth
Watermans Bay
Watermans Bay
Coordinates31°51′04″S 115°45′29″E / 31.851°S 115.758°E / -31.851; 115.758Coordinates: 31°51′04″S 115°45′29″E / 31.851°S 115.758°E / -31.851; 115.758
Population1,281 (2016 census)[1]
 • Density754/km2 (1,950/sq mi)
Area1.7 km2 (0.7 sq mi)
Location18 km (11 mi) NW of Perth
LGA(s)City of Stirling
State electorate(s)Carine
Federal Division(s)Stirling
Suburbs around Watermans Bay:
Marmion Duncraig
Indian Ocean Watermans Bay Carine
North Beach Karrinyup


The area originally formed part of the Hamersley Estate, which also included the suburbs now known as Carine, North Beach and modern-day Hamersley. These areas were owned by the Hamersley family, who arrived from Europe to settle in the Swan River Colony in 1837. The Hamersleys built a summer home just south of Waterman called "The Castle" in 1865, where their large family, as well as the Perth elite, congregated for summer holidays.[2] Many of the street names in the suburb honour members of the Hamersley family, including Ethel, Margaret, Mary, Ada and Elsie.

Originally set aside as a timber reserve, the area was first settled by pastoralists in the 1860s. It served as a stopping point and watering hole along the Coastal Stock Route between Dongara and Fremantle. Cattle drovers frequented the area and Afghan camel drivers were a common sight after the opening of the goldfields in the 1890s.

In 1908, the first house in modern-day Watermans Bay was built by a business man come recreational fisherman, Alfred Waterman, who named his house "Zephyr". The beach front adjacent to his house became known as Watermans Bay, which became a popular fishing spot.[3] The only way into the area at this time was via a wooden block road built by convicts (later Wanneroo Road) and then along a limestone track to North Beach, although numerous tracks through the bushland were developed as time progressed.

In 1918, the area was subdivided as the Mt Flora Estates, but initial development was largely limited to holiday shacks. After World War II, the area developed rapidly, and in 1954, the postal district of Watermans Bay was approved.[4] By 1961, nearly all of the existing suburb had been built and settled.

Name controversyEdit

In 1962, the name Watermans Bay was shortened to Waterman because it did not comply with WA state government regulations at the time – it was not, strictly speaking, a bay. This move was unpopular with local residents, who lobbied to revert the name. In November 2003, the Geographic Names Committee accepted a City of Stirling proposal to return to the original name following a survey of Waterman households, 491 of whom supported the proposal and 11 of whom opposed it.[3] It is in fact a "bay", divided by onshore cliffs and offshore reefs to north and south with a wide sandy beach, and a place to launch fishing boats.

Star Swamp Bushland Reserve

Star SwampEdit

Star Swamp Bushland Reserve is a bushland reserve occupying about half of the land area of the suburbs of Watermans Bay and North Beach. The precise origin of the name is unknown, but the earliest known use of the name was on a lease application by J.H.Okely of Wanneroo in 1868. It also has a long history as a Noongar camping area, with fresh water and abundant bush tucker and seafood. Some signs of the people are still there. In 1987, the State Government set aside 96 hectares as an A-class reserve,[5] and funding from the Bicentennial Commemorative Program and assistance from local organisations facilitated the establishment of the Star Swamp Heritage Trail within the reserve.[2]


Watermans Bay is bounded by the Beach Road coastal segment to the north, Marmion Avenue to the east, Hale Street to the south and West Coast Drive and the ocean to the west. Star Swamp sits east of Hope Street and represents just over half of the suburb. Reid Highway ends at the southeastern corner, and is the suburb's outlet to the Mitchell Freeway and the Perth central business district.[6]

At the 2006 Australian census, Waterman had a population of 1,195 people living in 494 dwellings, with an average age of 45 years (the third-oldest in the northern suburbs).[1] Residential styles in Watermans Bay range from timber and fibro workers' homes to modern two storey dwellings constructed of brick.[4] Due to its small size and surroundings, it is one of the most expensive of the northern suburbs in Perth.

View over Waterman from Mount Flora Lookout


Watermans Bay is a residential suburb, relying on a shop on West Coast Drive and nearby shops in Marmion, North Beach and Duncraig for basic commercial services, and nearby Karrinyup Shopping Centre for other services. The suburb contains no schools, but Marmion Primary School is just beyond its northern boundary.

Star Swamp Bushland Reserve is accessible from the eastern edge of the suburb. The WA Marine Research Laboratories are located on the beach off Elvire Street, and until recently[when?] were the headquarters of the Research Division of the WA Department of Fisheries, which moved to Hillarys in June 2005.[7] The site has since become the home of the department's International Operations Branch.

On the southern boundary, on Elvire Street, is the Mount Flora Regional Museum, built in 1936 as a water tower at the highest point of the suburb to provide scheme water to surrounding areas. It was phased out of service in the 1970s, and converted to a museum and lookout in May 1986. It now details the region's history, and is home to the North Suburban Historical Society.


Watermans Bay is served by the 423 bus route between Warwick and Stirling train stations, operated by Swan Transit.[8]


Watermans Bay is a reasonably affluent suburb with a large elderly population. It consistently supports the Liberal Party at both federal and state elections.

2004 federal election
Source: AEC [1]
  Liberal 61.0%
  Labor 27.2%
  Greens 7.47%
  CDP 1.93%
  One Nation 0.96%
2001 federal election
Source: AEC [2]
  Liberal 59.7%
  Labor 25.7%
  Greens 9.17%
  Democrats 2.46%
  One Nation 1.79%
1998 federal election
Source: AEC
  Liberal 54.8%
  Labor 30.0%
  One Nation 4.85%
  Greens 4.85%
  Democrats 4.73%
2005 state election
Source: WAEC
  Labor 52.1%
  Liberal 32.0%
  Greens 12.4%
  CDP 3.5%
2001 state election
Source: WAEC
  Liberal 41.8%
  Labor 26.4%
  Independent 13.4%
  Greens 8.12%
  One Nation 4.97%
1996 state election
Source: WAEC
  Liberal 43.4%
  Independent 25.8%
  Labor 20.3%
  Independent 6.37%
  Greens 4.00%


  1. ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (27 June 2017). "State Suburbs: Watermans Bay". 2016 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 25 August 2020.  
  2. ^ a b Heritage Council of WA (June 1999). "Heritage Trail - Star Swamp" (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2006.
  3. ^ a b Western Australian Land Information Authority. "History of metropolitan suburb names – W". Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  4. ^ a b City of Stirling. "Suburbs - Watermans Bay". Retrieved 17 January 2007.
  5. ^ "Naming of Star Swamp (per 3129/977 V3)". Western Australia Government Gazette. 3 April 1987. p. 1987:1246.
  6. ^ Department of Land Information. StreetSmart Perth Street Directory (54th ed.). West Australian Newspapers Ltd. pp. Map 280/310. ISBN 978-0-909439-67-5.
  7. ^ Department of Fisheries (WA) (November 2005). "Overview of the Research Division". Retrieved 17 January 2007.
  8. ^ Northern 62 timetable, Transperth, effective 8 August 2005. Accessed 17 January 2007.

External linksEdit