Canning River (Western Australia)

For the river in the United States, see Canning River (Alaska).
Passengers leaving the Silver Star river steamer ferry at Coffee Point (site of the South of Perth Yacht Club), with the old Canning Bridge in the background. ca. 1906.
Canning River and Bull Creek ca. 1932

The Canning River (Djarlgarra in Nyungar) is a major tributary of the Swan River in south western Western Australia.

Source and route

With headwaters on the Darling Scarp, the Canning meanders through suburbs of Perth on the Swan Coastal Plain, including Cannington, Thornlie, Riverton, Shelley, Rossmoyne and Mount Pleasant, before joining the Swan at Melville Water just downstream of the Canning Bridge.[1]




The first European contact was in 1801[2] when a French exploring party spotted the mouth. The crew subsequently named the mouth Entrée Moreau[2] after Charles Moreau, a midshipman with the party.

The Canning River received its contemporary name in 1827 when Captain James Stirling aboard the HMS Success following an examination of the region in March 1827 named the river after George Canning,[2] an eminent British statesman who was Prime Minister of Great Britain at the time and whose government facilitated the funds for the expedition.

In November 1829, just five months after the founding of the Swan River Colony in Western Australia, an exploring party led by now Governor James Stirling chose a site for a new town named Kelmscott[3] on the banks of the Canning River.


Convicts partly constructed and maintained the Canning River Convict Fence.[4][5][6][7][8] This structure is still a notable landmark to this day. It was built primarily for the use of barges carrying timber from Mason's Timber Mill in the Darling Ranges.

The river is home to much wildlife including dolphins, pelicans, swans and many other bird species.

Algae bloom

Algal blooms occur naturally in the Canning River system, they are caused by a buildup of nutrients in the river. Human activities including farming, residential gardens and parklands are the major causes of increases in levels, the blooms are potentially toxic to both mammal and marine life. The Swan River Trust monitors the levels of nutrients and growth of the algae issuing warnings and closing sections of the river to all activities. The Trust also operates cleanup programs to reduce the amount of nutrients reaching the river, as well phosphorus removal and oxygenation in areas were blooms have been identified.[9]

The Trust is encouraged by the appearance of Azolla carpets on sections of the Canning River as this fern is known to reduce the amount of sunlight available to the algae as well as absorbing large amounts of phosphorus and other nutrients from the water. However, it is possible that Azolla carpets can cause deoxygenation and emit a strong sulfur smell.[10]

Canning River without the Azolla in February 2006.
Same location covered in a carpet of Azolla March 2007.

See also


  1. "Canning Dam". About Australia. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 Western Australian Land Information Authority. "History of river names". Archived from the original on 16 February 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  3. "European Settlement". Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  4. Carde, F.G. (1991) [1968]. Along the Canning: A History of the City of Canning, Western Australia, Covering its progress from Roads Board to Shire, to Town, to City (2nd ed.). City of Canning.
  5. McQueen, Jeanette (1963). Pioneers of the Canning District (Thesis). Graylands Teachers' College. p. 13.
  6. Detail from 'Municipal Heritage Inventory', City of Canning
  7. Hutchison, D.; Davidson, Dianne (1979). "The Convict-Built 'Fence' in the Canning River" (PDF). 8 (1). Records of the Western Australian Museum: 147–159. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  8. LePage, J.S.H. (1986). Building A State: The Story of the Public Works Department of Western Australia 1829-1985. Leederville: Water Authority of Western Australia. p. 211. ISBN 978-0-7244-6862-1.
  9. "Algal Bloom - Swan River Trust media statement" (PDF). 16 March 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 April 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  10. "Native fern on Canning River - Swan River Trust media statement" (PDF). 6 March 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 April 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2014.

Further reading

Coordinates: 32°00′S 115°51′E / 32.000°S 115.850°E / -32.000; 115.850

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