Bringing a touch of the exotic to Rockingham

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.

Rotto and Rocky: Dens of sleaze


Here at Dodgy Perth we have a simple rule to see whether it is acceptable to date someone. Divide your age by two and add seven. If the other person is younger than that, it’s a no go.

This means as soon as you hit 40, you are forbidden from dating anyone under 27. It’s that simple.

The rule was probably not much different in 1931 when a set of 40-something cads were exposed as seducers of teenage girls. They took advantage of owning yachts to invite the young ladies on three day cruises or camping trips.

The youngsters would lie to their parents and claim they were off to Rotto and Rockingham, or another “pleasure haunt”, with their girlfriends. Mum and dad could never believe their innocent daughter would be up to mischief, so saw no cause for alarm.

Immediately after leaving the house the young flapper would catch up with another couple of girlfriends and the three of them would board a large yacht with three middle-aged men as their companions for the weekend.

Many such yachts would be seen moored off Rotto on a long weekend, and with no accommodation on the island, the parties would take place entirely onboard, with much heavy drinking and the inevitable payoff for the elderly vampires.

“Mother thinks we girls are all camping at Rockingham,” giggled one foolish young flapper to a journalist.

Occasionally some of the old Romeos would run into one of the girl’s relatives and this would lead to black eyes and an embarrassed miss being ordered home.

The media blamed the parents, of course, and called for police intervention. As for the men, a sound thrashing was too good for them.

Welcome to holidaying. 1930s style.