Prior to European settlement, the Beeloo people occupied much of the land east of the Canning River in the City. In 1827 the colonial botanist, Mr Charles Fraser, and Captain James Stirling explored the region to evaluate its suitability for farming. Initially the area was used for forestry and orchards and fruit growing continues to be one of the major industries in the City today. In 1897 the Darling Range Roads Board was formed, but it was not until a year later that the first meeting was held on 16 April 1898. The Townsite of Kalamunda was approved in 1902. In 1961 the Darling Range Roads Board was renamed the Shire of Kalamunda, and in 1978 the Shire moved its operations to the current Administration Centre in Railway Road. The most significant development occurred during the post war years, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s. The population was relatively stable during the 1990s and then increased slightly between 2001 and 2006, rising from about 46,000 in 2001 to nearly 49,000 in 2006.
On 1 July 2017 Governor’s orders designated the Shire of Kalamunda as a City. The City population in 2017 was over 62,000 with over 75% of the population living in an urban environment.
Local industries include orchards, intensive horticulture activities, grazing, animal agistment, minor sawmills, poultry, a Government Works Depot and the CBH Group (Co-operative Bulk Handling) state grain terminal. The City also encompasses rapidly growing urban areas in the foothills such as Forrestfield, High Wycombe, Maida Vale and Wattle Grove, plus an expanding industrial and transport hub adjacent to Perth airport. The City is served by the Roe Highway and the Tonkin Highway.
Some major features of the City include Gooseberry Hill National Park, Kalamunda National Park, Lesmurdie Falls National Park, Darling Range Regional Park, Victoria Reservoir, Hartfield Park, Jorgensen Park, Pioneer Park, Kalamunda History Village, Kalamunda District Community Hospital, Perth Observatory, Bibbulmun Track, Hartfield Country Club, Hill View Golf Course, Pickering Brook Golf Course, the Kalamunda CBD, Forrestfield Forum Shopping Centre, several state forests and various wineries.