Suburban History: Munster

Here is the third History with Leah article for the City’s regular newsletter, the Cockburn Soundings.

Although newly named, the Munster area is one of the oldest in the City of Cockburn’s long history. For most of the 19th century, the area was known to settlers as ‘South Coogee’, and its lake was known as Lake Munster, named for Prince William, the Earl of Munster. This lake area (now Lake Coogee) was good market-gardening land, and many small holdings grew up around its shores. 

Long before this, however, Woodman Point played host one of the first settlements in WA: Thomas Peel’s failed experiment in community-building, Clarence. Peel, his family, and several ships full of settlers landed in Jervoise Bay on New Years’ Eve, 1829, intending to recreate the village life that was fast disappearing in England. Plagued by bad luck, insufficient supplies, and a lack of understanding of the land, the new settlement was abandoned within two years and Woodman Point remained empty for many years to come. 

In 1864, the entire Munster area was taken up as a pastoral lease by George Lourey Ellis. Keeping the rough grazing land for sheep and cattle ensured a good return for new settlers, as the colony at Fremantle was always in need of meat, and so vast tracts of Cockburn land were kept largely free of buildings and developments. 

Woodman Point had long been reserved as a quarantine area to deal with the many diseases that could be brought on incoming ships, but it wasn’t until 1886 that work was finally completed on the set of buildings that would serve the Cockburn Sound area until it was closed in 1979. During those 93 years, the quarantine station dealt with outbreaks of scarlet fever, bubonic plague, smallpox and more, including the tragic Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, where 26 Australian soldiers aboard the troopship Boonah succumbed to the disease just days after the Armistice was signed, and died whilst in quarantine at Woodman Point. 

Munster was officially named in 1954, and remains integral to the Cockburn District, housing the wastewater treatment plant and the cement quarry.  

You can find Leah’s other posts, as well as the previous local history posts written by Luba, by clicking the tags ‘history with Leah‘ and ‘history with Luba‘ in the tag cloud on the right column of the blog.


Leah

Author: Leah

I work as the Reader Services Librarian at Spearwood Public Library. I order the books, and I take requests for anything you can’t find in the library! I also research and write local history articles for the Cockburn Soundings, and for anyone who has a local history question.

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Suburban History: Munster

by Leah time to read: 2 min
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