History of the Swan Valley


The Swan Valley is a geographical area situated between the Swan and Helena River confluence and Walyunga pool in the Darling Range. It occupies an area of 105 square kilometres.

When the Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlaming, ventured up the river as far as Perth in 1697, he noticed the large number of black swans there and named it the Swan River. Although the French travelled up the Swan River as far upstream as Whiteman Bridge in 1801, it wasn't until 1829 that European settlement occurred, following Captain James Stirling's exploratory voyage in 1827.

Initially the Swan River was the only transport route, and locations to settlers were long and narrow to give everyone a river frontage. The input of convict labour in the area between 1850 and 1868 was critical for the establishment of roads and the building of Barkers Bridge and the Upper Swan Bridge

The expansion of the railways in the 1880s, the increase of population in the 1890s after the gold rushes and European immigration saw the start of the subdivision of many of the large estates in the Valley in the 1900s.

After World War I various areas such as Herne Hill, Caversham, Millendon and Baskerville were used in soldier settlement schemes.

By the 1920s, the Swan Valley had achieved a position of clear dominance as a vineyard district, particularly for table grapes and dried fruit. Post World War II saw increasing importance on wine production and by 1979 there were 38 wineries in the Swan Valley. Today the number of wineries continues to grow and in 2014 the region celebrated 180 years of winemaking.

With clay soil abundantly available, the brick industry, which had begun in 1886, is still continued today by Midland Brick. Whiteman Park, which covers more than 4,000 hectares on the western side of the Valley, was officially opened in 1986.

The Swan Valley's rural nature is protected by the Swan Valley Protection Act of 1995 and is regarded as one of Western Australia's premier tourism regions, attracting an average of over 480,000 day-trippers each year.

Situated only 16 km from the Perth CBD, the area remains a renowned grape-growing region containing world-class wineries, restaurants, galleries and accommodation.

For more information, contact your local City of Swan library or the Swan Valley Visitor Centre.