The suburb we now know as Yangebup was not officially named and marked until 1977, but the name was in use throughout Cockburn’s history. Believed to originate from the Nyungar
word yanget or yangee, a name for the local bullrush typha latifolia
, it was first recorded in 1841 and went on to become the name of a lake and a major rural road in the area. Other versions of the name have been written as Yangebub, Yangiebup, and Yangebub Gardens.
An 1889 map of the Lake Yangebup vicinity shows the largest portion of land held by William J. Owston. Smaller plots of land on the shores of the lakes and swamps were held by James Morrow, Thomas Briggs, E.H. Lewington, Harold Warthwyke, and John Healy.
By 1923, a map of Jandakot
shows that most of the land around Lake Yangebup was held by Joseph and Levi Baker, twins who went into the butchering industry and made a good living.
Though it was never the name of an established settlement like Spearwood or Bibra Lake, settlers around Yangebup Lake came to think of themselves as “Yangebup” residents, building a community of farmers and gardeners in an area known statewide for its natural beauty.
Not always appreciated, the early years of the 20th century were filled with calls for the chain of lakes to be drained, not least because they were causing a lot of lawsuits amongst property owners trying to grow food in swampy conditions.
Though lakeside plots of land were sought after for the quality of the soil, the excess water caused problems for growing crops as well as for unpredictable water patterns, causing water on one man's plot to flood that of his neighbour and resulting in ill-feeling and legal action. This issue consumed the Jandakot Agricultural Area
for much of its lifespan.
Yangebup Lake’s beauty became a prime target for game hunters, with many local men spending their summer weekends shooting native ducks and other waterbirds.
It was eventually declared a Native Game Reserve in the late 1920s, and anyone caught killing its wildlife faced hefty fines.
A scientific discovery in the lake’s waters added significantly to a worldwide geological debate. In 1924 a local observer brought a freshwater sponge he had discovered in Lake Yangebup to the entomologist at the Perth Museum. This sponge turned out to be Ephydatia, a crucial link in the emerging theory of the southern supercontinent known as Gondwanaland. When the entomologist went back to Yangebup for more study, he found the waters teeming with a specimen of minute crustacean known as Phreatoicus, also found in South Africa, South America, and New Zealand.
The Jandakot Wool Scouring Co. was built on the shores of Lake Yangebup in 1927, and continued to be a large local industry until its removal to Rockingham in the late 1990s. This was amidst growing concerns about environmental safety and the location of toxic waste near a lake and water resource area.
Yangebup Road was an important link between Fremantle and Jandakot. Laid out in the early 1890s, it connected the western part of the Cockburn district and Fremantle with farming land east to Armadale and beyond.
Its location would have made a good site for the Jandakot railway, and the choice of an alternate route probably sealed Yangebup’s fate as a minor settlement area. Pioneer farmers fought long and hard for electricity to be run along Yangebup Road from Spearwood, but without success: they were still campaigning for electricity east of the lakes in the 1950s.
Yangebup Road was realigned in the early 1990s and effectively became Beeliar Drive, connecting to the Kwinana Freeway as it was extended south.