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Suffolk Park, Caversham, City of Swan, Western Australia, Australia

Suffolk Park is a “private estate” being developed at Caversham in the City of Swan, Western Australia.  It is situated at 31° 87 ’ S 115° 97’ E, and is approximately 15 km (9 miles) northeast of Perth.

Population:-  The population of Caversham in 2016 was 5,290.

How to get there:-

By road:  From Perth take the Guildford Road (State Route 51) towards Guildford.  At Bassendean turn left onto Lord Street (State Route 76).  At the first roundabout take the third exit onto Benara Road and the area ahead is Caversham.  Continue along Benara Road to West Swan Road (State Route 52).  Turn left and then next left again along Arthur Street.  At the crossroads turn left along Suffolk Street and Suffolk Park is the housing development to the south of this road.  A multi-lane extension of Lord Street is being built to a roundabout in Suffolk Street and this will provide an alternative route to Suffolk Park (see narrative below).     

By rail:  Guildford Station (3 km away) is a Transperth railway station 12.5 km (7 miles) from Perth railway station on the Midland Line.

Nearest major airport is Perth Airport 13 km (about 8 miles) south of Suffolk Park by road.

Time Zone: Australian Western Standard Time (GMT +8 hrs).  Daylight saving time in summer + 1 hr.

Order of contents on this page: (Click on the links below)

History & Derivation of Name  


City of Swan





History & Derivation of Name

Suffolk Park is a planned community of 406 houses presently being built within the City of Swan Urban Growth Area at Caversham, Western Australia (see Caversham section, below for the broader picture).  Work began early in 2014 and is in five stages with final completion being dependent upon the demand for property, but is forecast for completion by 2020.  It is formally “Suffolk Park Private Estate” indicating that it will have its own residents’ corporate body making rules and holding meetings, like a council.  There will be common facilities such as a small shopping precinct, recreational area and tennis courts, etc.  Sometimes gated access and private security at night is provided on such estates, although some of these details are still being considered.  The land was historically used for rural purposes, comprising mainly vacant land for horse grazing, with limited horticultural and viticultural uses.

Suffolk Park is accessed, and gets its name, from Suffolk Street.  There is no “park” in the recreational sense, but this suffix is often given to residential estates to provide an impression of well-being and luxury.  Suffolk Street is the main thoroughfare in the northern part of Caversham running off westward from the West Swan Road (State Route 52).  It did not originally go anywhere but it has since been extended to join with the former Patricia Road (now renamed Suffolk Street) that served the residential estates already built to the west.  This will improve east-west communications, and a multi-lane extension of Lord Street (State Route 76) is being built adjacent to the Suffolk Park estate to connect to a roundabout in Suffolk Street.  This will provide another fast access road to cope with emergencies, such as bush fires, since state regulations require two such routes for residential subdivisions (the other fast access way is West Swan Road).

Suffolk Street had been a rough service track since the late 19th century for the northern part of the vineyards that had spread along Benara Road to the south.  There were no residences built along Suffolk Street, and it just petered out into natural scrubland in the west where there were no vineyards present.  This all changed with the need for residential land at the beginning of the 21st century.  The name Suffolk Street is probably associated with, or may have even been given by, Edward Robinson.
Edward Robinson (1839–1913) was born in Suffolk, England, either at Brampton or Euston.  In 1843 he arrived in Western Australia with his widowed mother (his father having died on the voyage out) and four siblings.  He received no formal schooling, and worked as a shepherd from a young age.  He became an acknowledged bushman who took part in two exploration expeditions into the interior in 1863 and 1874.  Robinson was a pioneer settler, farmer and pastoralist, particularly notable in opening up the northwest of Western Australia.  In 1886 he purchased a farm at Bellevue to the east of the Swan River, about 9 km (5 miles) from Caversham.  This brought him into the area and he soon became prominent in public affairs: he was in the Western Australian Legislative Council from 1894 to 1896, a Justice of the Peace, and a member of the Greenmount Road Board, the local government area, from 1904 until his death.

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Caversham is a suburb of Perth at the southern end of the Swan Valley located to the north and west of the Swan River.  It lies south of the Reid Highway, a 23 kilometre (14 miles) east-west highway/partial freeway linking the northern suburbs of Perth.  The river and highway constitute the boundary of Caversham in the north, east and south.  The western boundary runs down Lord Street which is just west of Bennett Brook, an intermittent stream that typically flows from early August until early November, depending on seasonal conditions.

                                                                                                                                                  Swan River at Caversham

Until recently the only settlements in this rural area were scattered farmsteads among vineyards, the main population centres being the other side of the Swan River at Guildford and Midland.  The West Swan Road (State Route 52) is the main highway crossing Caversham, providing the bridging point over the river, and runs from Guildford in the south to the wine producing areas in the middle and north Swan Valley.  The only road running east to west within the suburb was Benara Road which connected to Lord Street, the latter being another north-south highway to the west of the suburb.  However, plans were adopted in 2011 by the City of Swan for residential developments in Caversham south of the Reid Highway and west of West Swan Road.  This also allowed for Suffolk Street to be upgraded and extended to Lord Street as a second east-west route.

When the British Government decided to open the area to settlement, Peter Shadwell in 1830 bought an allotment of land on the western bank of the river north of Guildford.  Shadwell sold his land in 1837 to Dr Richard Hinds, a surgeon in the Royal Navy, who gave the property the name of Caversham Rise, because of its geographical situation at the top of a nearby rise which reminded him of the location of that name overlooking the River Thames opposite Reading in England.  

The estate passed through other hands until it came to Robert de Burgh in 1856.  In the subsequent years to 1900 the de Burgh family subdivided the land on which individual vineyards were then established.  The subdivision of the estate led to the name of the area being shortened to Caversham by 1890.  Caversham House still exists by the Swan River in a 588 ha (1,452 acre) estate, and is today a restaurant and venue for corporate events.

The area is traditionally given over to vineyards and wine production.  In 1840 John Septimus Roe, the first surveyor-general of the Swan River Colony, was granted 510 ha (1,260 acres) on the banks of the river, and the same year he planted the first vines.  This was Sandalwood which still exists on the West Swan Road in Caversham.  The Swan Valley was the earliest wine-making area in Western Australia, but the cooler climate by the coast in the southeast (the Margaret River and the Great Southern) encouraged better growth and the vineyards there became more significant than those in the original area.  Producers deserted the Swan Valley – in 1970 it had 90% of the state’s production of wine; by 1996 this was down to 15% and was still falling.  Hence, it became more profitable to release land in the Caversham area for residential development than to continue with wine-making.

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City of Swan

The City of Swan at over 1,042 square kilometres (402 square miles) covers the largest local government area within metropolitan Perth.

The City of Swan began as three separate local government entities: the Municipality of Guildford; the Municipality of Helena Vale; and the Swan Roads Board (the latter was responsible for the rural parts).  In 1961 Guildford and the Swan Roads Board merged into the Shire of Swan-Guildford.  Meanwhile, Helena Vale had become the Municipality of Midland Junction in 1901 and then the Town of Midland in 1961.  In 1970 Swan-Guildford and Midland united as the Shire of Swan, and thirty years later, in 2000, became the City of Swan.

In 1697 the Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlaming, ventured up the river and noticed the large number of black swans there, so he named it Swan River.  Following Captain James Stirling’s exploratory voyage in 1827, European settlement began in 1829 and Guildford was established as a market town and an inland port to serve the agricultural hinterland, as the river was the main means of transport.

Helena Vale had been occupied by settlers since 1832.  However, little development occurred until 1886, when the Midland Railway Company established its headquarters there which resulted in the later name change of the settlement.  The arrival of the railway led to the decline of Guildford as a port, and the emerging town of Midland Junction became the pre-eminent commercial centre of the Swan Valley.    

The Swan Roads Board was mainly a Rural Shire consisting of dairy and poultry farms, and its major product: vines.  In the 19th century the rural economy was dominated by large estates.  The gold rushes of the 1890s resulted in a large increase in population throughout Western Australia, and saw the beginning of the subdivision of the large estates in the Swan Valley.

After World War I, parts of the Swan Valley were given over to soldier settlers and displaced migrants from Europe.  Many of the latter came from areas along the Dalmatian coast, and brought their experience of market gardening and viticulture.  Most of the holdings were small family concerns and these retain a strong Croatian and southern Italian heritage, with an emphasis on the production of fortified and table wines.  However, as noted above, the expansion of the larger wine producers in the southern and southeastern part of the state caused many of the smaller family-run vineyards in the Swan Valley to close from the 1990s.  This led to the next phase in the economic transformation of the area to that of meeting the demand for residential land and the associated service industries for the householders.  

Since 2005 the Perth metropolitan region has experienced rapid growth.  Situated to the west of the Swan Valley is the 1,100 hectare Urban Growth Corridor which has been identified to accommodate a portion of that growth, being relatively easy for access to the city.  The Urban Growth Corridor faces many challenges such as a rapidly expanding population and new suburbs, planning schemes and the urbanisation of the Swan Valley; it includes parts of the localities of Caversham as a primary residential growth area in the City of Swan.

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