Bells Rapids Master Plan

The online survey will close Sunday October 31, 2021.

Drone Bells Rapids bridge

The City of Swan is undertaking master planning for Bells Rapids.

This act is possible thanks to a Riverbank Grant of $38,525 from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), which is being matched by the City.

The Master Plan will aim to identify ways to improve the experience of visitors and to protect the ecological and cultural values of the site. It will  ensure the unique natural environment, Aboriginal and European Heritage, as well as landscape characteristics of Bells Rapids can be managed and preserved for the enjoyment of the community.

Bells Rapids is a regional reserve managed by the City of Swan located at the foot of the Darling Scarp off Cathedral Avenue, Brigadoon, and spans both sides of the Swan River. It was set aside to protect regionally significant vegetation.

The reserve is comprised of steep slopes, downstream of Walyunga National Park in the east and narrow flats in the west. The area is used for recreational activities such as picnicking, bushwalking and kayaking. There are sign-posted walk trails along the shore and scarp, and a trail map is available on the City’s website. 

The western part of Bells Rapids, was part of Jumbuck Hill Farm and used for the agistment of sheep for sale in Perth. A bridge was built to move animals from one side of the river to the other. The current bridge, used as a popular vantage point for the Avon Descent, replaced the original. You can still find an old bathtub used as a drinking trough for livestock and remnants of the old yard fences.

Last summer’s Wooroloo bushfire burnt much of Bells Rapids. Increased rates of bushwalking during COVID19 border restrictions have degraded its trails and shore. 

Bells Rapids area has always been important to the Whadjuk people as a main thoroughfare from the Scarp to the coastal plain and used by regional tribal groups as a source of food and water, with quartz and dolerite rocks from the river bed and hills developed into a variety of tools. There are interesting creation stories associated with the area. In the late 1980’s / early 1990’s the Nyungar community led group walks through the area, known as Coondebung’s Kalleepgurr Heritage Trail, but this knowledge is slowly disappearing as the Traditional Custodians age.

The City is working with DBCA and the Traditional Custodians to acknowledge the rich Aboriginal and European history of the area and improve environmental and bushland conditions.

  • The City met with Aboriginal people who speak for this part of Country in August 2021, to guide and develop the project collaboratively.

  • As the next stage of this process the City is seeking community input from residents, stakeholders and visitors to gain a better understanding of how Bells Rapids users engage with the site, and their ideas on potential improvements to the area’s bushland conservation, recreational opportunities and supporting facilities. 

  • Feedback will then help guide the design and map potential improvements. Landscape Architects Ecoscape have been engaged to undertake the master planning. 

  • Draft Bells Rapid Masterplan options will be created and then shared with the community for feedback using an online interactive tool called Social Pinpoint.

  • Once changes suggested in the feedback are considered, priced, evaluated and incorporated by the City and Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, the Bells Rapids Masterplan will be finalised and shared with the community, as well as the increased number of bushwalkers.