Swan River (Western Australia)

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The Swan River estuary flows through the city of Perth, in the south west of Western Australia. Its lower reaches are relatively wide and deep, with few constrictions, while the upper reaches are usually quite narrow and shallow.

The Swan River drains the Avon and coastal plain catchments, which have a total area of about 121,000 km². The Avon River contributes the majority of its freshwater flow. The climate of the catchment is Mediterranean, with mild wet winters, hot dry summers, and the associated highly seasonal rainfall and flow regime.

The Avon rises near Yealering, 100km southeast of Perth: it meanders north-northwest to Toodyay about 90km northeast of Perth, then turns southwest in Walyunga National Park - at the confluence of the Wooroloo Brook, it becomes the Swan River.

The Canning River rises not far from North Bannister, 100km southeast of Perth and joins the Swan at Applecross, opening into Melville Water. The river then narrows into Blackwall Reach, a narrow and deep stretch leading the river through Fremantle Harbour to the sea.

The Noongar believe that the Darling Scarp is said to represent the body of a Wagyl - a snakelike being from Dreamtime that meandered over the land creating rivers, waterways and lakes. It is thought that the Waugal created the Swan River.

While the Swan River itself has not been dammed, many of its tributary rivers, including the Helena River and the Canning River, have been dammed for collection of water supplies, with the two largest at Mundaring Weir and Canning Dam.

The estuary is subject to a microtidal regime, with a maximum tidal amplitude of about one metre, although water levels are also subject to barometric pressure fluctuations.


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