Housing Western Australia's 'work rush'

Posted by barbara on June 29, 2013


Flying into Perth with the Swan River (centre) and the CBD (right) in the background. 


It’s a long way to Western Australia from the east coast and costly to boot if flying. Not surprisingly, the majority of east coasters, and many south coasters for that matter, never make the trip, put off by the so-called 'tyranny of distance'.

So what’s it like on the wild west coast of the continent and how is it changing under the onslaught of the mining boom?

On Saturday 29 June, Geraldine Doogue on Saturday Extra hosted a 'Big Ideas for Australia: Riding on the back of WA,' where she referred to the 'work' rush that was impacting the state. How she wondered was the state accommodating an additional 1,000 personnel a week relocating to WA to become part of the mining industry. 



70km south of Perth, the City of Mandurah has experienced a population explosion over the last 15 years


The drive north and south of Perth's CBD is an eye opener when it comes to accommodating successive generations of Perth and WA-ites, let alone the 'incomers', the mine workers flooding in from interstate and overseas to fill vacant jobs in the industry.


Mandurah by the sea (the Indian Ocean)


Styled as the gateway to the South West (including the iconic Margaret River) Mandurah has been identified as one of the fastest growing cities in Australia. Seventy kilometres south of Perth, this city has accomodated a population boom over the past 15 years.


Beachside accommodation just south of Mandurah


The old style accommodation typical of a coastal settlement is fast disappearing as high rise canal living and wall-to-wall subdivisions transform what was once a sleepy port town.


Mandurah development


Up and down the main road, official blue state government land sale signs point the way to blocks of land on the market. 

What's been happening at Mandurah, as in wall-to-wall subdivisions, characterises the coastland between Mandurah and Rockingham, with lifestyle incentives, 'only 15 minutes walk from the beach', featuring prominently on prominent hoardings.


The Peelhurst Estate at Golden Bay, between Mandurah and Rockingham is no exception, advertising 2,000 to 13,000 square metre blocks of land from $290,000.


Everywhere you look, subdivisions are taking over stretches of coastline and immediate hinterland, and the majority of these can't be described as parkland blocks in natural bushland settings.


The most striking escalation of urbanisation is impossible to ignore on the drive up from Joondalup to the 'once was' fishing settlement of Two Rocks, the outer limits of Perth.

Presumably these brand new subdivisions are absorbing a big percentage of the incoming families whose breadwinners are FIFO workers, flying in and out of Perth to the Pilbarra's Karratha and other mining locations. 


Flags, banners and real estate offices dominate the drive north, complete in this case with a huddle of cowered-looking grassed trees. The question is whether they were planted or protected when the bulldozers move in.


Amberton is one such suburb on the make, advertising its benefits as: "Located along a 2 km stretch of pristine coastline. This beautiful and unspoilt location is an idyllic place for families to create the lifestyle they've always wanted." 


Perhaps it was visiting the North Perth suburbs in late autumn weather but there was little of charm in the swathe of seaside suburbs fronting lumpy uneven dunes. The underlying limestone geology does not lend itself to headlands that could afford views of the beach and out to sea (unlike the east coast of Australia).


Yanchep, the brain child of 1980s property developer Alan Bond, is in its 'second childhood' so to speak. The urbanisation of the entire coastline is transforming its relatively remote sparsely populated tracts of Indian Ocean frontage land into wall-to-wall suburbs.


Styled as 'Luxury for life', the Capricorn Beach precinct (Yanchep) had a brand new release of land in early May 2013.


Sixty kilometres north of Perth's CBD, the suburb of Two Rocks marks the end of Perth's northern suburbs. 

As captured in the Google Maps screenshot above, the centrepiece of this little settlement is the safe harbour constructed to protect fishing boats from the Indian Ocean.


One of the two limestone rocks that gave the suburb of Two Rocks its name.


The second of two rocks sits 'proud' of the artificial harbour.


Such is the demand for parking boats, the marina offers a boatlifting service wherebye fishing boats are stacked, one above each other.


Access to beaches is not far away from the 'burbs' with a sandy path leading through scrub-covered dunes to the Indian Ocean.


Sizeable suburban houses have taken over the little fishing settlement.


And there are many examples of the widespread use of Perth environs architecture, namely retaining walls constructed out of blocks of local limestone or their faux equivalents. 

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