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The Swan-Avon Catchments

River catchments - Courtesy Swan River TrustThe River starts its life near Wickepin as the Avon and this name is used as far as Walyunga where it becomes the Swan. By the time it reaches the heart of Perth as Perth Water it is no longer a river but an estuary.

The Swan-Avon River as we know it today flows from Wickepin to Fremantle, but the naming of various parts of the Swan River has evolved over time. To the traditional owners of the land, the River is known as Derbal Yerigan, meaning ‘brackish water’. In describing his exploration of the River Swan in 1827, Captain Stirling commented that in his opinion, the Swan River ended at Fraser’s Point and then became an Estuary which he called Melville Water as far as the Heads in Fremantle:

"I must protest here against the term ‘River’ as applied to the Estuary in which we were now entering. It is a misnomer which leads to confusion of Ideas; and I shall therefore designate the various ramifications of the Sea within the two heads just mentioned by the general name Melville Water, limiting the use of the name Swan to that Stream, which joining the Sea at the Islands below Fraser’s Point concludes its career as a River." [1]

The Swan-Avon River is 280 kilometres long and has a total catchment of 125,000 square kilometres, so activities very far from Perth impact on the River and are a part of the history of the Swan River.

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Page last updated: Tuesday 23 November 2010