Stirling is named after James Stirling, the first Western Australian governor (1829–1838). The name was approved in April 1976 at the request of the City of Stirling, as the area contained the Council's headquarters. The suburb was part of Balcatta until 1976.
Throughout the wetland regions, Aboriginals hunted for kangaroo, emu, snakes, tortoise, mudfish, gilgies and water birds and their eggs, to name a few food sources. Aboriginal sites are known to have existed in a few locations in the Gwelup-Balcatta region.