The city attracts a large number of tourists, including many international visitors. The city centre foreshore is home to a variety of wildlife including dolphins, pelicans, shags, and an abundance of marine life including the blue manna crab which has become synonymous with the area. The city is also known for its protected waterways, beaches and boating and fishing activities..
Peel Inlet and Old Mandurah Bridge
Mandurah has grown from isolated holiday communities along the shores of the Peel-Harvey Estuary to a major regional city in just over a decade, in a similar vein to the Gold Coast in Eastern Australia, in recent times forming a conurbation with nearby Rockingham and the capital Perth along the coast.
Mandurah has also become a popular lifestyle alternative for Perth retirees and its connection with the Perth CBD has been strengthened with the opening of the Perth-Mandurah railway linein December 2007 and a direct road connection to the Kwinana Freeway built by late 2010. A housing affordability survey of 227 cities in 2008 ranked it the least affordable city in Australia..
The Noongar (or Bibbulmun) people, who inhabited the southwest of Western Australia, named the area Mandjar ("meeting place"). After European settlement the name changed, possibly due to mispronunciation, to Mandurah.
In December 1829, Thomas Peel arrived in Western Australia from the United Kingdom with workmen, equipment and stores on the ship Gilmore. He had financed the trip in exchange for a grant of land in the Swan River Colony, however his contract stipulated that he was to arrive by no later than 1 November 1829 and so his original land grant was forfeited. Undaunted, Peel built a small settlement named Clarence south of the Swan River colony at what is known today as Woodman Point. Many problems with the settlement along with Peel's own ill-health led him to lead the remaining Clarence settlers to the area known today as Mandurah. Thomas Peel died in 1865 but Mandurah continued to grow, albeit very slowly, over the years leading to the 20th century.
The population of the town was 160 (95 males and 65 females) in 1898.
Since its founding, Mandurah was administered under the Murray Road Board until 1949, when the Mandurah Road Board was established. However, dissension within the board during the 1950s saw it suspended while Commissioner Richard Rushton oversaw the town's affairs. On 26 April 1960, the Mandurah Road Board was reconstituted, and on 1 July 1961, in accordance with the Local Government Act 1960, the Shire of Mandurah was founded.
A mining boom in nearby Pinjarra, Jarrahdale and Wagerup and an industrial boom in Kwinana combined with an idyllic lifestyle by the coast saw Mandurah grow rapidly, and on 1 July 1987 it was upgraded to the Town of Mandurah. Three years later, on 14 April 1990, Mandurah became the fifth non-metropolitan settlement in Western Australia to become a city.
Economy and employment
Much of Mandurah's economy is based on tourism, retail and manufacturing/construction, and to a lesser extent on mining and agriculture.
Mandurah is considered to be the unofficial gateway to the South West and possesses a variety of tourist attractions, especially based around the water. It is a major fishing and crabbing area in Western Australia, with the city well known for the Blue Manna Crab (Portunus pelagicus) with a festival held in early March known as Crabfest.
Like neighbouring settlements Bunbury and Rockingham dolphins and whales frequent the city annually and dolphin and whale watching are a popular pastime. In December, the canal areas in Mandurah becomes well known for their Christmas lights and special boat cruises are often promoted as a result.
Two zoos lie within the outskirts of the city, as well as a miniature village, a tourist railway and a national park.
Mandurah has seven day trading all year. Mandurah has five distinct shopping areas, including Mandurah Forum located at the intersection of Pinjarra and Mandurah Roads, The Bridge Quarter (or The Foreshore) located in the CBD and Dolphin Quay/Mandurah Ocean Marina built at the intersection of Mandjar Bay and the Peel Inlet. There are also smaller retail areas in Meadow Springs, Greenfields, Halls Head and Falcon.
Although not a mining settlement, Mandurah has a number of mines within two hours of the city. This includes bauxite mining and alumina refining at Pinjarra and Wagerup with the Huntly Mine at Pinjarra the largest in the world. Mandurah is also just one hour away from the Boddington Gold Mine, which has recently become Australia's largest producing gold mine.
Highway 1 bisects the city of Mandurah as Mandurah Road towards Fremantle and Old Coast Road towards Bunbury. Meanwhile Pinjarra and Gordon/Lakes Roads serve as major east-west corridors for the northern part of the city. The Kwinana Freeway and Forrest Highway also provides a rural bypass for the city. The recently opened Mandjoogoordap Drive (formerly the Mandurah Entrance Road) also provides a direct link from the Kwinana Freeway.
The Mandurah Estuary Bridge was constructed in 1985 to 1986, and was the first incrementally launched box girder bridge in Australia. The Dawesville Channel (also known as the Dawesville Cut), a large man-made channel, was opened in April 1994. The channel was created to allow saline seawater from the Indian Ocean to flush into the Peel Inlet to reduce the incidence of algal blooms which had plagued the estuary for many years.
Public transport in Mandurah is covered by Transperth due to its proximity to Perth itself, with eleven bus routes servicing the city while the Mandurah railway line, opened in December 2007, links Mandurah to Perth via Mandurah railway station with a travel time of approximately 50 minutes. Mandurah is also a stop on Transwa bus services between Perth and the South West.