How Rockingham imagines itself, allegedly
How Rockingham imagines itself, allegedly

The naming of beaches along the west coast has always been a bit haphazard. Sometimes it was a wrecked ship (Kwinana), or just boringly obvious (City Beach).

But two of the most inexplicable names are from Rockingham: Palm Beach and Waikiki Beach. Although we have to admit the latter now goes by a different designation.

Palm Beach got its name around 1929, and at that time it was just a barren part of Rockingham, a couple of kilometres past the township. There wasn’t a palm in sight, although there were a few bush shacks built by country folk for their holiday homes. And, more importantly, a grove of olive-green cypress pines.

Most of the local roads were badly maintained and full of pot-holes, and only a few roads were actually passable to get to the beach. A local legend says a council workman was instructed to put up a sign for motorists who didn’t want to get bogged down to follow the track to ‘Pine Beach’.

However, he misheard the order and neatly painted a sign with the words ‘To Palm Beach’, along with an arrow directing people to the cypress grove. Hence the beach (allegedly) received its new name. We at Dodgy Perth make no claims as to the truth of this legend, but it is entirely plausible.

But what excuse could be offered for calling a barren windswept part of the coastline past Safety Bay, Waikiki Beach? This was named in 1949 by the developer of a new subdivision, in order to attract buyers to an otherwise bleak landscape. It didn’t last long. Although the developer’s more imaginative name lives on in the suburb they started, by 1952 the government had decided that Waikiki Beach was far too silly and it became the far more prosaic Warnbro Beach.

What’s in a name? Well, a mishearing and a sales opportunity, apparently.

One thought on “Bringing a touch of the exotic to Rockingham

  1. Actually John Forrest was walking along the sands with Lady Forrest when he saw a couple of pioneer types going at it and exclaimed ‘Why, kinky beach,’ to which Lady Forrest replied ‘Why not?’. but subsequent wowsers bowdlerised the original to Waikiki.

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