In the earlier days of settlement, cattle were raised near the lake area. In 1928, the Herdsman Lake Suburban Area was gazetted adjacent to the lake, covering parts of what are now Churchlands and Woodlands as well as the modern suburb of Herdsman.
In the 1980s swamp-land to the north of the lake was reclaimed by dredging to build Jon Sanders Drive and establish a light industrial park around Walters Drive. Prior to this, companies along Scarborough Beach Road backed on to the swamp. That area is now part of the light industrial suburb of Osborne Park, although some areas adjacent to Herdsman Lake Regional Park are still colloquially referred to as "Herdsman".