Maroubra is a local Aboriginal word meaning place of thunder. In 1861, the first house was built in the area by Humphrey McKeon. A number of other settlers arrived on the land in the 1870s to work on the wool scouring works located at the northern end of the bay. The suburb first made headlines on 6 May 1898, when the Hereward, a fully rigged iron ship weighing 1,513 tons, was caught by the gale force winds and shipwrecked at the northern end of Maroubra Beach while heading north toward Newcastle. The shipwreck remained on the beach for a number of years until a failed attempt to refloat it was made by building a coffer dam around the wreck. Hereward Street in Maroubra is named after the event.