Industry and Business
Small businesses like grocers, bakers, and dairies kept the farming communities of the Cockburn district running smoothly, and hotels provided some much-needed respite and leisure. But it was heavy industries like lime-burning, abattoirs, and smelting that brought money and workers into Cockburn and set it up for future prosperity.
The Cockburn district had a unique experience of war, particularly World War Two, as both an agricultural district and one with many military installations around its isolated coastal areas.
Find out more about wartime production, rationing, internment and the home front.
Sport and social lives
The hardworking farmers and labourers of the Cockburn district liked to play hard too, and their leisure time was filled with sports, dances, social clubs, and more. They formed local soccer, AFL, cricket, and tennis clubs with gusto, and trained and raced horses in Hamilton Hill and Jandakot.
The Cockburn district was built by migrants at every stage of its history. Early agricultural land policies encouraged migration to build farms and supply a growing colony, and the gold rush of the 1890s saw Chinese, Afghan, southern and eastern European migrants arrive to try their luck. Many moved into Cockburn temporarily, but many more paved the way for their families and friends to follow them, and built Cockburn into the diverse city it is today.
Buildings and places
Stories about the historical buildings and places around the Cockburn district, including community halls, churches, schools, and public space, as well as the history of all the suburbs in Cockburn.
The Cockburn district grew quickly after World War Two. Find out about the new industries, growing suburbs, and wide array of new residents in a modern district.
The owners of the land that became Cockburn were the Beeliar Nyungar, and they called their land Beeliar Boodjar. When the first Europeans arrived in Western Australia, the Beeliar Nyungar were led by Midgegooroo and Yagan. Some of their language was recorded by an early settler, but for many years afterwards they were neglected and dispossessed by Europeans.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are warned that these articles may contain images of people who are now deceased.
Digitisation of Cockburn's historical collections has been part of several projects over the years. Volunteers helped to scan and catalogue the photographic collection, mostly held at Azelia Ley Museum, and staff at Spearwood Library digitised the audio, video, and document collections, including Cockburn's 1978 local history book, Cockburn: the Making of a Community by Michael Berson.
Cockburn History is a collaborative effort between the Cockburn Libraries, City of Cockburn, and Azelia Ley Homestead Museum.
Azelia Ley Museum
The Azelia Ley Homestead Museum and its associated outbuildings are located in Manning Park, Hamilton Hill. The heritage listed residence was built in 1923 for a member of the Manning family and offers a glimpse into the life of a prosperous settler family living in the Cockburn district.
Click the play button to listen to the audio clip.
The following notes are a summary of what Mr Abraham was able to share with the interviewer, Dr. Leonie Stella, as they sat in the sun on a cold winter’s morning enjoying the leafy outlook and the sound of birds. The birds are quite vocal on the tape!
Mr. Abraham was born in Narrogin in 1935. His parents were Emmet Abraham and Doris Ugle who had lived ‘all over’ the South West including Narrogin. Mr. Emmet Abraham had also worked as a farm labourer.
Mr. and Mrs. Sooby Abraham had one daughter, Sue who was born in 1960, when they moved to the Cockburn area in the 1980s. They had to move to the city because of Mrs. Abraham’s ill-health. Mr. Abraham had relatives in the area, and they lived in Coolbellup initially. They subsequently adopted three other children who they then ‘reared up’. They were Ricky Ugle, Bradley Miller and Kathy Abraham, and they attended the North Lake High School.
Moving to the city was a sad time for Mr. Abraham as his wife Gracie passed away in 1996.
Mr. Abraham has been a parishioner of the Rev. Sealin Garlett’s Coolbellup church, and recalls being a member of the Southern Suburbs Progress Association. He mentioned in particular, working with Jean and Fred Collard, and their daughter Betty Collard who was Mrs. Spencer Riley.
For many years Mr. Abraham worked as a volunteer community bus driver in the Cockburn/Fremantle area.
As a young man Mr. Abraham played football for West Perth, and had to come up to Perth and stay overnight with friends in Guildford. He was a very active player with the Cuballing Club near Narrogin. He married his wife Gracie in Narrogin about 1959 or 60.
Before coming to the city to live, Sooby was a farm labourer who drove tractors doing the seeding and harvesting/stripping for farmers in the Narrogin and Williams area. In particular he recalled working for a farmer named Heddington.
Mr. Abraham had 4 brothers and 5 sisters. One brother Matt has passed away, as have two sisters, Rene and Leonie. His other brothers and sisters are: Hurdle, George, Hilda, Biney, Loma and Pam. They mostly live in the Bunbury area.
Mr. Abraham’s daughter Kathy and little grandaughter Sue-Anne live with him in Hilton, as does his niece Grace.
Coming from another area Mr. Abraham was unable to share any local stories with me.
9 Coleville Crescent,
Po Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965
Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.
City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past, present and emerging.