The 72-kilometre-long Swan River known also by its aboriginal name Derbarl Yerrigan, winds its way through the heart of Western Australia’s capital, Perth, creating a stunning contrast to the city’s high-rise skyline. Surrounded by easily accessible, wide pathways, the 'bridges' walk crosses at Narrows Bridge and the Causeway and takes around two and a half hours on foot. Visitors and locals wanting a quicker circuit can ride, skate, or hop on a Segway tour.
A river cruise is a great way to appreciate Perth. Swan River Cruises head to Fremantle, Swan Valley, and Rottnest Island with ferries to Perth Zoo, Matilda Bay, and South Perth. This area is known for its busy cafes, upmarket restaurants, public art, and scenic foreshore that hosts regular markets, and entertainment. There are many grassy spots overlooking the river and city skyline where you can grab a takeaway or bring a picnic and enjoy the sunset.
The Swan River offers endless activities for all ages from peaceful picnics on its banks to jumping on a jet ski. Relaxing Swan River Cruises depart from Barrack Square for a host of wonderful destinations. One of the most popular is to Rottnest Island with its 63 beaches and 20 bays and its most famous and photogenic attractions, the friendly quokkas.
An incredible place to enjoy 180-degree views of The Swan River, Perth City and Darling Range is Kings Park and Botanic Garden. One of the largest, most beautiful inner-city parks in the world, Kings Park and Botanic Garden has sweeping views and displays over 3,000 species of the State's unique flora.
Barrack Square is home to the Swan Bells, a set of 18 bells hanging in an 82.5-metre-high structure of glass and copper. The Swan Bell Tower takes its name from the Swan River and its observation deck offers amazing views.
Perth is in the ancient country of the Whadjuk Nyoongar whose people have lived in the southwestern areas of WA for over 47,000 years. Prior to European arrival, up to 10,000 Noongar lived in the areas around Perth known as Mooro, Beeloo and Beeliar.
In October 1616 Dirk Hartog, sailing the Eendracht, a Dutch East India Company ship, became the first European to set foot on the western shores of Australia. For more than two centuries afterward, French, Dutch, and English explored and mapped the west coast, but no European settlement was established as the land was seen as inhospitable and economically unviable.
When France began further explorations, Britain decided to act, and in 1829 Captain James Stirling founded the Swan River Colony. It was the first Australian colony made up of free settlers, rather than convicts. From 1850, convicts began to arrive to build roads and public infrastructure. The colony was renamed in 1832 to Perth.
When Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlaming, ventured up the river in 1697, he noticed a large number of black swans and named the river Swarte Swaene-Revier, Black Swan River. It was later simplified to Swan River.
You can’t really go wrong with any of the cruises on offer on the beautiful Swan River. Some of the most popular cruises and ferry rides include a day trip to Rottnest Island, a lunch cruise to Fremantle, a cruise and tour to the Swan Valley Wineries or a dinner cruise on the Swan River with live music!
The Swan River is home to over 130 species of fish and wildlife. The river has a wonderful community of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose dolphins which are related to the common bottlenose dolphins, but are smaller, and a little less social. The waters also contain bull sharks, mullet, flathead, whiting, cobblers, herring, black brim, and blowfish.
Small mammals also inhabit the surrounding banks, like brush-tail possums, short-nose bandicoots, quenda, snakes, lizards, and water-rats. Around the river there are more than 80 species of birds including the famous black swans, pelicans, ibises, osprey, cockatoos, parrots, kingfishers, and ducks.
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