Lake Henderson Drained
Construction of the
Robertson Park and nearby Dorrien
Gardens soccer ground were once a large lake, part of a chain of lakes
north of Perth CBD between Lake Monger and the Swan River. Boojoormelup
(later known as Lake Henderson) was a seasonal wetland which filled up
with winter rains, and dried out in summer.
The inland freshwater lands and swamps
north of Perth City were important to Aboriginal people who camped on the
swamp margins and hunted and gathered the wetlands wildlife. The lakes
provided frogs, root tubers, freshwater turtles, fish, gilgies and
waterfowl and were a place for gatherings during
seasons of plenty.
The Perth newspaper, The Inquirer
reported in January 1850:
- On Friday evening a grand corroboree was held at
Anderson's Lake (sic), at the back of
the town, by upwards of 300 natives, belonging to all tribes inhabiting
the country for a circuit of 200 miles from Perth"
Twenty years later, convict labourers
extended the stormwater drainage system to Robertson Park and the lake
disappeared completely. During the 1800ís the land was used as part of the
Chinese market gardens however as the urban sprawl continued a range of
industries were built surrounding the site and the site became the bottle
yard. This site was used for that purpose all the way until the mid 1900ís
when it was filled in and turned into grassed parkland with few native
trees scattered on the edges.
In 1999 the Claise Brook Catchment
Group suggested that a small wetland could be recreated within the park as
a feature of interest and to restore an area of natural habitat.
Stormwater runoff from surrounding streets would fill the wetland in
winter which would dry out naturally in summer. Planted with local
Australian plants, the wetland could attract birds, frogs and perhaps even
tortoises back into the area. The catchment group and the City of Vincent
prepared plans and obtained funding through the Swan Alcoa Landcare
Program to construct a wetland.
The earthworks for the construction
of the wetland began in April 2004. During the excavations the
archaeologists unearthed a number of items including bottles from the old
bottle yard, pieces of crockery and rusted metal. By June 2004 the
excavation and the earthworks were complete. The water holding body was
lined with clay to minimise seepage into the ground water.
In July 2004 with a help of
approximately 100 volunteers and local residents 5,200 sedges and dryland
plants were planted. The flooded gums, Eucalyptus rudis, planted around
the wetland were grown from seed gathered from an old flooded gum in
Robertson Park, behind Lee Hops cottage, which is the only surviving
original vegetation in the park.
The lake edge and creek channel are
planted with sedges and paperbarks. The lake fills after rain and dries
out in summer when herbaceous plants such as Cotula coronopifolia grow
across the lake bed. The sedges stabilise the banks of the lake and strip
some of the nutrients out of the stormwater. The bacteria associated with
the roots of these plants also help to reduce nutrient load on the water
body hence improving the water quality.
The aims of the
project were to:
Create an area of
natural habitat containing indigenous flora and fauna within the inner
city urban area, reminding local residents that even though they live in
an urban environment, it is also a natural environment and connects to
local wetlands and to the Swan River.
Restore a water body to
Robertson Park and creating an area with strong environmental and
historical interest within the park.
Recreate a link in the
wetlands chain, and on the Wetlands Heritage Trail.
Involve local residents
and school children in activities based around the wetland such as
planting and monitoring.
Create links with the
Indigenous community who retain strong cultural links to this
The group is been heavily involved in maintenance of the wetland
Robertson park and meets there on the first Saturday of each month.
Members weed, plants and collect seed which is propagated to grow
seedlings which are planted back around the wetland the following season.
Anyone with an interest is welcome to
join us at a working bee at Robertson Park.
here to find out about the next working
bee or visit
our activities page.
to join our emailing list and receive regular updates on our activities.