South Lake, like many other suburbs east of Bibra Lake, was originally part of the Jandakot Agricultural Area. Parcels of land in the fertile, swampy district were offered for sale by the government in 1890 to encourage new farmers and market gardeners into the area to produce food for a rapidly growing colony.

A picture of the Bodalla Estate, 1909

A picture of the Bodalla Estate in what is now South Lake, 1909

As early as 1887 settlers had been taking up land in the South Lake area. Brothers Thomas and Anham Briggs held Lots 191 and 192, most of the land fronting onto Forrest Rd (now North Lake Rd). Their fruit and vegetable business became one of the best-known in the district and they went on to serve on the Fremantle Roads Board.

To the south of them James Hicks, a Fremantle property developer, bought Lot 154 and called it Bodalla Estate, dividing it into 2 and 4-acre plots to sell on. Robert Semple had Lot 155 on his eastern border. All of these families will be familiar now to South Lake residents, because all of them later inspired road names in the suburb. The struggle for most of these farmers and market gardeners was that the low-lying land was often flooded and waterlogged, damaging crops and restricting the amount of useful growing space. Calls were frequent for drainage of the chain of lakes we now hold dear.

South Lake through the ages - 1953, 1974, 1981, & 1995. Spot the difference!

South Lake through the ages – 1953, 1974, 1981, & 1995. Spot the difference!

The area remained rural farmland for the next century, until in 1981 developers began to clear the northern end for suburban housing. One building company suggested the name South Lake (imaginatively because it was ‘south of North Lake’), which was approved in August 1982. The Leisure Centre was completed in late 1991, and the Kwinana Freeway was extended to Yangebup Rd (renamed Beeliar Drive) in 1992.

South Lake, 1895

Partial map of market garden lots in Jandakot, 1895. Forrest (now North Lake) Road runs from top left to bottom right, and Prinsep Road can be seen to the right of Lot 154.

Below are some articles from the very first few issues of the Cockburn Soundings, showing the progress of the construction of what would become the South Lake Leisure Centre (click to enlarge)

SLLC Feb 1991

Article from the Cockburn Soundings, February 1991, reporting on the construction of the South Lake Leisure Centre

SLLC May 1991

Cockburn Soundings, May 1991, updating progress on the South Lake Leisure Centre

SLLC Feb 1992

Cockburn Soundings, February 1992, South Lake Leisure Centre grand opening.