Mandurah is the fastest-growing regional city in Australia, having experienced hypergrowth for several years. The city grew from isolated holiday communities along the shores of the Peel-Harvey Estuary, and, with the growth of Perth, it has become a popular lifestyle alternative. Mandurah's connection with the Perth CBD has been strengthened with the opening of the Perth-Mandurah railway line in December 2007. A housing affordability survey of 227 cities in the 2008 ranked it the least affordable city in Australia.
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 welcomes thousands of tourists every year, including many international visitors. Mandurah is famous for its protected waterways, superb beaches and excellent boating and fishing activities.
The waters of the Peel Inlet and Harvey Estuary (one of Australia's larger inlet systems) form the centre of Mandurah. The estuary is approximately twice the size of Sydney Harbour. The city lies in and around this freshwater system which in turn feeds into the Indian Ocean. The city and its suburbs have many kilometres of ocean coastline most of which is sandy beaches. Mandurah also has a number of suburbs built around artificially created canal systems that extend from the Peel Inlet.
Sharing a similar climate to Perth, Mandurah has a typical Mediterranean climate with warm summers and cool winters. During summer (December to February), the average maximum temperature is 27°C (80°F) with an average minimum temperature of 19°C (66°F). At its extreme it can get very hot, often having days exceeding 40°C (104°F) in the later half of summer. In winter (June to August), the average maximum temperature is 15°C (59°F) with an average minimum temperature of 9°C (48°F). Mandurah's proximity to the ocean moderates summer temperatures somewhat, with temperatures a few kilometres inland often 4 or 5 degrees warmer. Mandurah's climate is remarkable for producing one of the highest densities of tornadoes in the world
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. Unfortunately for him, the contract stipulated that he was to arrive by no later than 1 November 1829 and, as such, 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.
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.