The Swan is a generous, gentle river right at Perth's doorstep. It was named in 1797 by the Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh who was impressed by the many black swans which he observed upon its waters. The banks of the Swan were the site for Stirling's settlement.
Today, the Swan River and Perth are inextricably bound together.
Perth, situated on the Swan River, is rated among the most beautiful cities in the world. The river, which separates the downtown area from its southern suburbs, provides vistas without equal.
The Swan River begins quietly in the foothills of the Darling Range. Its waters nurture the upper Swan Valley, which is the traditional area for Western Australia's fine wine making. The river next slips silently past Guildford, Perth's oldest inland suburb. Here and there along its banks are dignified colonial homes, reminders of the beginnings of prosperity.
Near the city the banks of the Swan fan out into a wide, sparkling expanse. This is Perth water. Edging it are green, well-trimmed playing fields behind which the city skyline is invariably silhouetted against a sky of clear and brilliant blue.
By day it is invaded by a flotilla of small catamarans skimming bright blobs of colour. At night the city lights become a brilliant galaxy of dancing reflections.
After passing under the Narrows Bridge the river spreads out. At weekends, this is the scene for yachting action. Sleek crafts criss-cross the ruffled surface of the water, many boasting billowing multi-hued spinnakers.
But the Swan River is not just for sailors. Luxury motor cruisers glide by, while small outboards peacefully putt-putt on the calm waters. Fishermen are here too, for the waters of the Swan abound with prawns, crabs and a variety of fish.
Matilda Bay at Crawley has its own special magic. The distinctive Mediterranean style buildings of the University of Western Australia provide an outstanding backdrop. The long sweep of beach is popular all summer long for family picnics, swimming, sunbaking and for boating activities.
Follow the river further on its way to the Indian Ocean. After passing some of Perth's most opulent homes, it narrows into the busy port of Fremantle. Here, ocean liners, modern container ships and tramp steamers berth beside towering cranes, while old stone warehouses echo to the dockside bustle and cries of gulls.