Take Me to the River: Perth Water Schemes
Without knowing our city’s history, how do we move forward? Since European settlement over 200 years ago there have been many different ideas for the Perth foreshore, Swan River and for Perth Water but without proper records, and with the need for consensus from multiple stakeholders, those ideas have sometimes been forgotten or revived later as new ideas.
Without documentation or consideration of past schemes, planners don’t realise why some things didn’t work originally and so have to learn the hard lessons again.
This is an issue for government and urban planners as there is no unified vision and without this, development and progress becomes piecemeal.
“If you don’t know where you’ve come from, you don’t know where you’re going to.”
Dr Julian Bolleter
In the past, Perth has agonised about what we want to do with our foreshore.
Initially, this research aims to provide the people of Perth with a historical record of the ideas around Perth Water. The book Take Me to the River written by Dr Julian Bolleter, Landscape Architect and Urban Designer at the Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC), UWA does this by exhuming old schemes and changing ideas of what Perth is, was, and what it could have become, since settlement. It agitates for the need to look at a unified vision.
Elizabeth Quay is a wonderful moment to celebrate. Elizabeth Quay however only covers 300 metres of the eight kilometre shoreline of Perth Water and whilst it is a great starting point, it is not the end of the story.
In addition to documenting old schemes, the research looks to the future whilst considering emerging challenges of the Swan River and Perth Water which include an increase in population rates and rising sea levels. Stage two of the research project includes establishing a reference team within the AUDRC that will collaborate with the multiple stakeholders as well as consider future challenges to ultimately produce a plan of how Perth could relate to its river in the 21st century.
In conducting this research Dr Bolleter has received support from UWA and UWA Publishing. The book has attracted national interest and has been submitted for the Premier’s Book Awards, the Historical Association Book Awards and has been reviewed positively in Landscape Architecture Australia.
Take Me to the River has attracted national interest. Shorelines are generally where cultures express themselves and are therefore considered highly symbolic places.
For the people of Perth, Take Me to the River is a valuable research project that provides an understanding of the history of Perth Water and the changing ideas, in a graphic and visual format.
For government planners, Take Me to the River is research that agitates the need for vision for Perth Water. The book includes renders of past schemes, illustrating what schemes would have looked like today had they been built. Importantly, the book also provides a platform for stage two of the research, which will include unified, alternate visions for the future.