Evo­lu­tion of the Swan


THE banks of the Swan River have changed dras­ti­cally over the past 150 years.

In the city’s ear­li­est days most of the land within the pro­posed mas­ter plan area was un­der­wa­ter.

In 1870, St Ge­orges Ter­race was near the edge of the Swan and the Perth CBD site con­tained a col­lec­tion of wet­lands that re­quired drain­ing, in­clud­ing Lake Kings­ford, which sat on the cur­rent site of For­rest Place. Long jet­ties stretched out from the edge of the city to where it was deep enough for boats to dock. Be­gin­ning in the 1870s, ex­ten­sive land recla­ma­tion projects be­tween those jet­ties led to the fore­shore as we know it to­day.

The space be­tween the Bar­rack and Wil­liam street jet­ties — Es­planade Re­serve — was the first cab off the rank, and over the next 50 years the mod­ern-day Supreme Court Gar­dens, Lan­g­ley Park and Point Fraser were all filled in to cre­ate a con­tin­u­ous strip of land to the Cause­way.

Perth’s first sewage pump house, com­mis­sioned in 1914, is on the north­ern side of Lan­g­ley Park. Dur­ing the early 1920s Lan­g­ley Park added an­other first: Perth’s first airstrip, which wel­comed the city’s first air­mail ser­vice in 1921 and housed WA Air­ways un­til 1925 when May­lands Aero­drome was es­tab­lished.

Ac­cord­ing to the RAAFA WA Avi­a­tion Her­itage Mu­seum, planes ar­rived at Lan­g­ley Park when Perth air­line pi­o­neer Nor­man Brear­ley per­suaded Kim­ber­ley MP Michael Du­rack to al­low him to con­struct a hangar at the bot­tom of his gar­den on the Es­planade.

Af­ter the com­ple­tion of the fi­nal land recla­ma­tion at Point Fraser, River­side Drive was con­structed in the 1930s — nearly 30 years af­ter it was first planned.

Heiris­son Is­land was then re­claimed dur­ing the two decades up un­til 1950 and the river­front re­ceived a makeover with the ad­di­tion of the Nar­rows Bridge in 1959. More than 50 years later, El­iz­a­beth Quay re­turned some of the river­front back to the Swan River.

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