The Cockburn coastline has played host to horses, races, and stables since the earliest days of European settlement.

Early settlers held a pony race beside the beach at South Fremantle in 1833, complete with stands, food stalls, and entertainment – quite an accomplishment for a colony only four years old. Though the main racing industry developed closer to Perth, settlers in the Cockburn area entertained themselves with a number of local meets. In the 1880s a racecourse was marked out at Woodman Point, and in the 1890s Walter Powell developed his Coogee Hotel racecourse. These races became a fixture of Fremantle-Cockburn society for decades.

View from the Hill over Randwick Stables, Hamilton Hill, 1927.

View from the hill over Randwick Stables, Hamilton Hill, 1927.

In the early 1920s, famous ex-jockey Jack Marks built Randwick Stables on Rockingham Road, Hamilton Hill, taking advantage of fertile soil to grow feed and the nearby beach to exercise the animals. During the following thirty years and more a lively training and racing culture grew up in the area, with stables owned and run by prominent racing names such as F.W. Johnson on Forrest Road, and A.W. Cooper close by, as well as a host of smaller stables owned by Fremantle businessmen and run by racing veterans.

Randwick Stables is still standing on Rockingham Road, and the legacy of horses exercising along South and CY O’Connor Beaches remains to this day.

This article appears in the October 2016 issue of the Cockburn Soundings. Get in touch here to have your local history query answered.