|A ship mooring at the Kwinana docks
Major industrial area south of Perth
Located 43 km south of Perth and part of Perth's southern sprawl (it is hard to detect any breaks in the urban development south of Fremantle), Kwinana is a huge industrialised area which spreads from the coast across what were once the sandy scrublands of the coastal plain.
The town was named after the SS Kwinana, a ship which was driven ashore and wrecked in 1922. It is said that the word 'Kwinana' was an Aboriginal word from the Kimberley region meaning 'pretty woman'. If the meaning is correct it is full of irony as most of Kwinana today could never be described as either pretty or feminine and the ship which gave rise to the naming of the region now juts out at the end of the local beach and is nothing more than a small rusting piece of ship's skeleton which has been filled with concrete to form a kind of small jetty. In fairness, the beach on which the wreck of the Kwinana can be found, and even the beaches around the main grain jetty, are clean and suitable for swimming. They attract large numbers of picnicking families on summer days.
The township of Kwinana was nothing more than a sleepy, underdeveloped holiday resort until 1952 when the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now known as BP) entered into an agreement with the Western Australian government to establish an oil refinery in the region. The agreement saw the government build port facilities to handle the shipping of the oil. By 1955 the oil refinery was in operation.
Around the same time BHP struck a similar deal with the state government and a steel bar plant was established at Kwinana. It was opened in 1954. Realising the advantages in concentrating heavy industry in a small area, Alcoa established an alumina refinery in 1961 and Western Mining built a nickel refinery in 1970. The area continued to grow and now has a petro-chemical complex and a cement factory as well as a number of other major heavy industries.
|The Kwinana Grain Terminal
One of the most recent additions to the industrial landscape has been the construction of the huge wheat storage terminal which, with a capacity approaching 1 million tonnes is reputedly the largest wheat storage and shipping complex in the world. The terminal, with its sharp blue and white, is one of the most prominent landmarks in the region and the loading facilities are some of the most sophisticated.
With its sawtooth roofs, corrugated iron buildings, and small industrial buildings, Kwinana is clearly the centre of Perth's industrial belt. It is therefore not surprising that there is a massive amount industrialisation south from Fremantle to Kwinana. Interestingly Kwinana township, which is separated from most of the heavy industry by massive sand dunes, is a typical piece of Australian suburbia. In time Perth and Fremantle will consume Kwinana and it will become another suburb of metropolitan Perth. There is a plan that the area will eventually support a population of 200 000.
Things to see:
Old Rockingham Heritage Trail
The Grain Terminal, as well as the wreck of the Kwinana, is included in the excellent Old Rockingham Heritage Trail, an excellent 30 km self drive Heritage Trail which while it concentrates on the Rockingham area also contains a lot of information about Kwinana.It is available at the Rockingham Historical Museum in Kent Street, Rockingham.
Wetlands in the Town of Kwinana - The Spectacles
The Spectacles are so named because from the air the two lakes connected by a drain look like a pair of spectacles. Picnic facilities are provided and walk trails provide a delightful walk through the surrounding bushland. The spectacles wetlands are a bird watchers paradise, providing a haven for 100 different bird species which you can watch from the bird hide. It is also one of the few breeding grounds for the graceful and elusive Rufous Night Heron.
Leda Nature Reserve
Leda Nature Reserve to the South of Kwinana includes even more beautiful bushland than King's Park! The Banksia-Jarrah and Tuart bushland is home to the rare Blackgloved wallaby (right) so it is important not to let dogs loose in the area. There are also two important conservation wetlands amongst the bushland.
Kwinana has three public beaches allowing you to swim in the clear blue waters of Cockburn Sound. With sheltered beaches providing views of Garden Island, it is especially scenic at sunset. At Kwinana Beach, there are picnic facilities available and jetty access onto the historic Kwinana wreck from which our Town was named. Animals are allowed at the Barter Road Beach and a boat launching ramp available at Challenger Beach. Check out kwinana.wa.gov.au for more information about the region.