Hamilton Hill was settled very early in Western Australia’s colonial history. In 1830, on his way to Mauritius, Captain George Robb arrived in Fremantle Harbour to establish a farm. He chose a 2000 acre site to the south of Fremantle as a likely spot for his farm. His farm manager as the first to use the name ‘Hamilton Hill’, in a letter home that August.
Later in the 1840s, newspapers in the area referred to it as “that delightful locality well known as ‘The Hamilton Hills’. The colony’s first newspaper was printed on a neighbouring property by the man who went on to print the West Australian.
The gold rushes of the 1880s and 90s caused a boom in the colony’s population, putting Hamilton Hill in a unique position to provide both food and building materials to a rapidly expanding populace.
Abattoirs and market gardens were a common feature of the area, supplying food to all the new settlers. Lime, used to make mortar, was quarried throughout Cockburn, and the kilns built in Hamilton Hill ensured that there was enough mortar to build all the new warehouses and homes that the busy port of Fremantle and its surroundings required.
Supplying Fremantle with food, materials and labour became a theme for Hamilton Hill, with most of the industrial workers in the port city making their homes here. By the 1920s, the area had begun to modernise, and had domestic electricity connected in 1926. The introduction of cars and buses meant that Fremantle was in easy reach, and the district essentially became a suburb. Post WWII, the area was slowly turned into housing estates, creating the Hamilton Hill we know today.
Leah’s article originally appeared in the February 2013 edition of Cockburn Soundings
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