Canning River


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

The Canning River (Djarlgarra in Nyungar)[2][3] is a major tributary of the Swan River in the South West Land Division of Western Australia. It is home to much wildlife including dolphins, pelicans, swans and many other bird species.

Canning River
Canning River, Western Australia, Mount Henry.jpg
Canning River from southern shore looking north towards Mount Henry overlooking Aquinas Bay.
Native nameDjarlgarra  (Nyungar)
StateWestern Australia
Physical characteristics
 • locationWandering[1]
MouthSwan River
 • location
Melville Water
 • coordinates
32°00′11″S 115°51′02″E / 32.0031568°S 115.8506084°E / -32.0031568; 115.8506084
Length110 km (68 mi)
Basin features
 • leftBull Creek, Bannister Creek, Lambertia Creek, Southern River, Churchmans Brook
 • rightYule Brook, Bickley Brook, Ellis Brook, Stoney Brook, Stinton Creek

Source and routeEdit

With headwaters on the Darling Scarp, the Canning meanders through suburbs of Perth, Western Australia 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.[4]


  • Canning Bridge
  • Mount Henry Bridge
  • Shelley Bridge
  • Riverton Bridge
  • Kent Street Weir Bridge
  • Greenfield Street Bridge
  • Canning River Downstream Bridge
  • Canning River Upstream Bridge
  • Djarlgarra Bridge Easthbound
  • Djarlgarra Bridge Westbound
  • unnamed railway bridge
  • Royal Street Bridge
  • unnamed pedestrian bridge
  • Burslem Bridge
  • unnamed railway bridge
  • Jenna Biddi Footbridge
  • unnamed railway bridge
  • unnamed pedestrian bridge
  • Cargeeg Bridge
  • unnamed road bridge
  • Manning Road Footbridge


  • Coffee Point (east of Point Heathcote on the Swan River)
  • Deepwater Point (on western shore in Mount Pleasant)
  • Salter Point (very narrow part of river between Salter Point suburb on north side, Rossmoyne/Shelley border on south)
  • Prisoner Point (south shore in Shelley suburb, east of Shelley Beach)
  • Wadjup Point (north west of Shelley Bridge)


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, c. 1906.
Canning River and Bull Creek, c. 1932.

The first European contact was in 1801[5] when a French exploring party spotted the mouth. The crew subsequently named the mouth Entrée Moreau[5] after Charles Moreau, a midshipman with the party.

The Canning River received its contemporary name in 1827 when Captain James Stirling aboard HMS Success following an examination of the region in March 1827 named the river after George Canning,[5] 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[6] on the banks of the Canning River.


Part of the Convict Fence in Canning River between Shelley Foreshore Reserve and Salter Point.

Convicts partly constructed and maintained the Canning River Convict Fence.[7][8][9][10][11] 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.

Algae bloomEdit

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.[12]

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.[13]

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

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "About the river system". Parks and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  2. ^ Kinsella, John (2017). Polysituatedness: A Poetics of Displacement. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-1526113375.
  3. ^ Rivers of emotion : an emotional history of Derbarl Yerrigan and Djarlgarro Beelier : the Swan and Canning rivers. Broomhall, Susan., Pickering, Gina., Australian Research Council. Centre of Excellence. History of Emotions., National Trust of Australia (W.A.). [Crawley, W.A.]: ARC Centre of Excellence History of Emotions. 2012. ISBN 9781740522601. OCLC 820979809.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ "Canning Dam". About Australia. Archived from the original on 3 July 2009. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  5. ^ a b c "History of river names – C". Western Australian Land Information Authority. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  6. ^ "European Settlement". Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ McQueen, Jeanette (1963). Pioneers of the Canning District (Thesis). Graylands Teachers' College. p. 13.
  9. ^ Detail from 'Municipal Heritage Inventory', City of Canning
  10. ^ 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. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Algal Bloom - Swan River Trust media statement" (PDF). 16 March 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 April 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  13. ^ "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 readingEdit

  • Brearley, Anne (2005). Ernest Hodgkin's Swanland : estuaries and coastal lagoons of South-western Australia. Crawley, W.A.: University of Western Australia Press for the Ernest Hodgkin Trust for Estuary Education and Research and National Trust of Australia (WA). ISBN 1-920694-38-2.
  • Burningham, Nick (2004). Messing About in Earnest. Fremantle Arts Centre Press. ISBN 1-920731-25-3.
  • Richards, Oline. (199). Canning River Regional Park, Western Australia : historical survey. Perth, W.A.: Dept. of Planning and Urban Development. ISBN 0-7309-3249-4.
  • Seddon, George (1970). Swan River Landscapes. Crawley, W.A.: University of Western Australia Press. ISBN 0-85564-043-X.
  • Carden, 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 City of Canning (2nd ed.).
  • Fisher, S. J. (November 2014). Contaminants in the sediments and waters of the Canning Estuary at Clontarf Bay adjacent to the disused waste disposal site at Centenary Park (PDF) (Report). Western Australia: Department of Water and Swan River Trust. Retrieved 14 February 2019.