The City of Rockingham is a predominantly residential Local Government Area in southern Perth, with the main centre at Rockingham about 40 kilometres south of the Perth GPO. The City has strong north-south linear divisions, with the western coastal strip predominantly developed with post Second World War residential areas. The eastern part of Rockingham tends to be more rural and rural-residential in nature, while the central areas are dominated by large nature reserves and lakes, as well as new residential development fronts in Baldivis. The City also features a major naval base at Garden Island. While the City has rapidly urbanised over the past forty years, there is still significant rural and horticultural areas and pockets of forestry.
Urban development in the City was slow during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. As road transport improved and growth in Perth increased in the post-war period, the coastal village of Rockingham enhanced its role as a holiday and retirement area. Increased industrial employment in Kwinana during the 1950s and 1960s was a further fillip for residential expansion in the area. However, it was not until the 1970s and 1980s that rapid growth took place, with high rates of development in Cooloongup, Safety Bay, Waikiki and Warnbro. The City of Rockingham has continued to grow in population over the last fifteen to twenty years, with growth moving further south to Port Kennedy and Secret Harbour and more recently to Baldivis.
The primary housing market role that the City played over this period was to provide affordable home owning opportunities for families and prospective families from the southern suburbs of Perth. Over time, Rockingham has absorbed increasing demand levels from within the City itself, as children leave the family home and form their own households.
The City has been a beneficiary of migration gain from all municipalities to its north, most notably Kwinana, Armadale, Gosnells, Canning and Cockburn, as well as areas in the northern suburbs of Perth. The City of Rockingham has also gained large numbers in net terms from overseas and from interstate sources. The rates of growth are likely to remain high over the next few years, as continued demand from southern Perth, from external sources and from within the City is sustained. The City is expected to continue to lose population to coastal areas to the south, notably Mandurah, Murray and the South West (Busselton, Bunbury and Margaret River).
With the progressive residential development of the City over many decades, the large size of the municipality and the broad range of land uses across the City, areas have developed different roles within the housing market. Areas such as Baldivis (South), Baldivis (North), Golden Bay, Secret Harbour and Singleton have had significant residential development in more recent years and are attractive to couples and families seeking new housing opportunities. Safety Bay, Shoalwater, Waikiki and Karnup are attractive to mature families looking to upgrade to their second and third home and in most cases seeking a more natural environment and lifestyle.
Rockingham City Centre tends to attract young adults (18-24 years), as well as older adults, retirees and elderly due to the range of services in the area, as well as rental accommodation for the younger population. In the case of Keralup, previous migration patterns are set to be dwarfed (minimal population) by the wave of household forming couples and families from nearby established suburbs, as the area enters its growth phase. This variety of function and role of the small areas in the City of Rockingham means that population outcomes differ significantly across the municipality.
There are also significant differences in the supply of residential property within the City which will also have a major influence in structuring different population and household futures over the next five to twenty years. The major source of additional dwellings and households in the City will be in new 'greenfield' opportunities that have been identified in Baldivis, Karnup, Keralup and Secret Harbour. A large amount of development is also expected around the Rockingham City Centre, with greater densities and more apartment construction.