The area now known as Subiaco was the homeland of the Nyungar Aboriginal people long before the first European settlers came to the area.
A group of Benedictine monks, whose founder came from Subiaco, Italy, settled in the area in 1851 and called their monastery New Subiaco. When the Perth to Fremantle railway opened in 1881, the name Subiaco was adopted for a railway station near the monastery and later for the cluster of houses and businesses which became the present Subiaco.
Other European settlers followed and in 1886, the first house in Subiaco was built on Mueller Road, now Roberts Road, near the Perth to Fremantle railway line. The opening of the railway encouraged settlement as land was much cheaper in Subiaco than in Perth or West Perth, and this in turn supported retail and industrial development.
Subiaco's population increased phenomenally in the 1890s due to a depression in the eastern states and the gold rush in Kalgoorlie. Subiaco was proclaimed a municipality in 1897, and became the City of Subiaco in 1952. The council comprises the mayor and twelve councillors, supported by the city administration. The City of Subiaco includes the suburbs of Crawley, Daglish, Jolimont, Nedlands, Shenton Park and Subiaco.
Subiaco street names
The diverse origins of the city’s street names reveal layers of history that lie beneath Subiaco’s vibrant present. They include an array of local government figures, business people, factories, sportspeople, plants, statesmen; and people and places that are reminders of distant homelands.
The Geographic Names Committee at the Department of Land Information provided much of the following information. It draws on the committee’s complete records of existing and historical streets within the City of Subiaco. This contribution is gratefully acknowledged.
Through its heritage services, the city is working to discover more about its street names. This task involves careful historical research. Every effort is being made to ensure that information is accurate, and based on archival evidence. Where origins are known, these are used to supplement existing street signage.
The city welcomes comment and further information that will enhance this project.
Three ‘cities’ of Subiaco
The name Subiaco originated in Italy. Set amid picturesque mountain scenery about 80 kilometres east of Rome, Subiaco is the place where Saint Benedict composed the rules of monastic life and founded the Benedictine order.
Its name has been given to two other places where Benedictine communities were established. These are in Arkansas, USA, and Western Australia. In 1851, a group of Benedictine monks settled in the area towards Lake Monger, near the present City of Subiaco, Western Australia. They established an abbey and surrounded it with a farm, growing grapes, olives, fruit trees and other produce to sustain the community. The nearby railway station and town were named New Subiaco. Subiaco Abbey, in Arkansas, also gave its name to the nearby town (formerly New Subiaco). It is still surrounded with farmland worked by the abbey community.
Although the word city may be a misnomer for Subiaco, Arkansas – with a population of around 700 people in 2002 – and Subiaco, Italy – with a population of around 9000 – both have a sister city agreement with Subiaco, Western Australia.
Friendship between the cities was initiated by former mayor Tony Costa, who visited Subiaco Arkansas in 1984, and former City of Subiaco town clerk Jim McGeogh, who visited both in 1991–92. Following other visits, sister city agreements were signed in Subiaco during 1996, when the centenary of Subiaco, Western Australia, was celebrated. Visitors from both sister cities were present on the occasion.