City all grown up

Former Shire clerk Tony Armarego, CEO Stephen Cain, former Shire Clerk Rod Brown and Mayor Logan Howlett. d427742
Former Shire clerk Tony Armarego, CEO Stephen Cain, former Shire Clerk Rod Brown and Mayor Logan Howlett. d427742

This Sunday the City of Cockburn will chalk up its 35th anniversary.

And with a decision over local government reform imminent, it will likely be its last.

The Gazette was fortunate enough to catch up with a few of the City’s current and previous leaders to discuss its evolution from market garden king with little more than 20,000 residents in 1979 to a City now boasting more than 100,000 residents.

Tony Amarego was the City’s first town clerk (now known as chief executive). He held the position from 1979 until 1992, but had worked with the City since 1962.

‘The aim of the City in the early days was to develop and add residents,’ he said.

‘We wanted a good mixture of industry, residential and recreation.

‘You had to be kind to developers because usually when they’re developing areas north of the river, it’s hard for them to come back south.’

Rod Brown took over the role from Mr Amarego in 1992. It was a position he held until 2004.

‘I think councils like we were back then ” when you had the land and the commercial developments and so forth coming along ” it was a recipe for success,’ he said.

‘It was a good mixture of industry, commercial, and residential growth.

‘In the early days we were driving along the coast with the City’s first mayor, Don Miguel, and ministers in a hired 4WD trying to say, ‘All this should go, this is the prime residential land of the State and it’s all being used by industries’.

‘It’s pleasing to see that come to fruition.’

Mayor Logan Howlett said he could never have imagined Cockburn changing so quickly.

‘It’s transformed from a City with market gardens and abattoirs into a really vibrant City,’ he said.

City of Cockburn timeline
1979: Shire of Cockburn officially became a City.
1981: Kwinana Freeway started being built through Cockburn.
1984: North Lake Road was built
1985: South Fremantle Power Station closes.
1990: The Australian Marine Complex opened.
1990: Henderson Waste Recovery Park was opened.
1991: South Lake Leisure Centre was built.
2009: Watsonia closes in Spearwood.
2012: Cockburn named most sustainable city in Australia.
2013: City of Cockburn reaches 100,000 residents.