Stirling was established in 1871 as the Perth Road District under the District Roads Act 1871. The district at that time included what are now the Wanneroo, Joondalup, Bayswater and Belmont.
With the passage of the Local Government Act 1960, all road districts became shires effective from 1 July 1961. The Shire of Perth had a population of 84,000 in 1961. It was declared a city and renamed Stirling on 24 January 1971.
The city has been divided into seven wards, each of two councillors. Each councillor serves a four-year term, and half-elections are held every two years. The mayor is elected from among the councillors.