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.