Mates for life on world’s waterways

STEPHEN SCOURFIELD relives encounters with graceful swans

On the River Avon, in front of the Indigenous Bilya Koort Boodja Centre for Nyoongar Culture and Environmental Knowledge, I watch white swans preening (yes, white). Two arch their necks to form a classic “heart shape”.

Although the black swan is endemic, British migrants brought white swans to WA in 1896, and in the early 1900s, Northam mayor Oscar Bernard introduced them to Northam. It is the only place in Australia where they have survived, and is the only place on the continent where they breed naturally in the wild. There were once 80 on the Avon River, but there are fewer today, and since 1950 white swans have been protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act. In Northam, they are cared for and watched over by local shire rangers.

Note to self: In Northam, there are usually white swans at the Swan Enclosure at the Peel Terrace end of Bernard Park, or further down river towards Burlong Pool.

Bilya Koort Boodja is open 9am to 4pm seven days a week. bilyakoortboodja.com

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