Smelters Camp, Robb jetty and Coogee 
Did you know there was a semi-permanent homeless camp at Coogee Beach for many decades after the First World War?

Returned soldiers, many with shellshock, found adjusting to normal life a difficult prospect, and many chose to live an itinerant life instead.

House built of corrugated iron sheets on Coogee Beach in 1953

Things got worse during the Depression years of  the 1930s, and after the end of the Second World War there was an enormous housing shortage in Perth that meant families had to wait years for a new house to be built.

People lived in tents, or in shacks built out of corrugated iron and other scraps they could pick up from the South Fremantle rubbish tip nearby. Whole families lived in single rooms, and the camps were often home to local Aboriginal people who had no chance of getting social housing.

Black and white image of houses built out of junk in the dunes at Coogee Beach in 1953

Local historian Julie Raffaele has completed the first phase of a fascinating project to look into the history of what became known as the Smelters Camp, as it was located near the old smelting works that was once a prominent feature of the Coogee coastline.

Find the project in hard copy at all three Cockburn Libraries branches, or head to the library catalogue to download a copy of the Smelters Camp Research Project right now.

Julie is looking for anyone who has more information about the camp and its inhabitants – get in touch to pass on memories, photos, and more.

House built of junk with a view of the sea near Robb Jetty in 1947
Woman standing outside her home, a tent on Coogee Beach, 1953