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Canning Bridge


City of South Perth

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


Canning Hwy over the Canning River, between Applecross and Como Applecross and Como

Location Details

Includes both bridges

Other Name(s)

Eastbound Downstream, ref 913
Westbound Upstream, ref 912

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1849

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
Heritage List Adopted 16 Jun 2020 City of Melville
Heritage List Adopted 14 Nov 2000
State Register Registered 02 Mar 2012 Register Entry
Assessment Documentation
Heritage Council

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Municipal Inventory Adopted 17 Jun 2014 Category A

Category A

Worthy of the highest level of protection: recommended for entry into the State Register of Heritage Places which gives legal protection; development requires consultation with the City of Melville. Provide maximum encouragement to the owner under the City of Melville Planning Scheme to conserve the significance of the place. Incentives to promote conservation should be considered.

City of Melville

Statement of Significance

Canning Bridge, comprising two almost identical timber bridges, Canning Bridge eastbound (1937) and Canning Bridge westbound (1958), over the Canning River between Applecross and Como, has cultural heritage significance for the following reasons:
• the place is rare as an intact, substantial timber bridge comprising two adjacent structures built at different times;
• the site represents changing transport systems in Perth since 1829, from its origins as a ferry crossing, construction of the original Canning Bridge (1849), its role as part of the first road link between the city of Perth and the port of Fremantle through to construction of the current structures;
• the fishing platform underneath the 1958 structure is one of the few remaining of its kind;
• the place is valued as a site of recreational activities in the past to the present day, including organised sporting events, and as a venue for informal recreational activities. It achieved prominence in 1962, as the end point for rowing at the VII British Empire and Commonwealth Games;
• the place is an important landmark when viewed from the Swan and Canning Rivers, and the river foreshores. It contributes to the cultural landscape of the Applecross commercial precinct which includes Raffles Hotel (1937) and the distinctive façade of Applecross District Hall (1934); and,
• the place is a good example of a large timber bridge with cross braced driven piles, and demonstrates evidence of the innovative techniques of bridge conservation developed by the Main Roads Department in the 1970s.
The signage on the bridges and the metal railings in the centre of the bridge have little significance.

Physical Description

Canning Bridge spans Canning River at the narrowest point where the River flows into the Swan River in Como and Applecross. The bridge consists of two adjacent timber structures designed and built by the Main Roads Department of Western Australia. The first structure, completed 1937, was designed and supervised by E. W. Godfrey, Chief Transport Engineer for Main Roads, and the second, almost identical, structure was completed 1958.

Canning Bridge eastbound (1937) has a total length of 465 foot (141.8m), an overall width of 51’ 7” (15.7m) and an average clearance above normal water level of 19’ 8” (6.0m). It consists of 22 spans, typically 20 foot (6.1m) apart except for the central navigational span, which is 40 foot (12.2m) wide.

The bridge is supported on timber piles. The piles have been potted at various locations and the majority have been epoxy wrapped at water level. The deck consists of three traffic lanes 37’ 5” (11.4m) wide and a footpath.

Canning Bridge westbound (1958) has an overall length of 474 foot (144.6m), a width of 45 foot (13.7m) and a clearance of 19’ 8” (6.0m) above normal water level. It consists of 22 spans, typically 20 foot (6.1m) apart except for the navigational span, which is 40 foot (12.2m). The bridge is supported on timber piles, typically eight per span except for the navigational span, which has 12 piles. The deck of the bridge consists of three traffic lanes 37’ 4” (11.4m) wide and a 4’ 11” (1.5m) wide footpath.

The timber pylons on both bridges are inscribed with roman numerals. Both bridges are sealed in hot mix asphalt on the vehicular traffic lanes and the footpaths are timber decking overlaid with concrete.

The bridges carry water and electrical services. Steel conduits for street lighting are located on the base of the guardrail on the right hand side of the footpath on the downstream (1937) bridge. A similar steel conduit is attached to the half caps adjacent to the left hand side of the footpath posts on the Canning Bridge westbound (1958).

The building of the fishing platform on Canning Bridge westbound (1958) emulates the platform on the third Canning Bridge built in 1908, which was specifically designated for fishing. It is now designated as a maintenance platform reached by a timber gangplank that adjoins the shoreline under the bridge.

The area around Canning Bridge has seen continual development since the 1960s. As a result Canning Bridge is an important landmark with arteries leading off north and south into the Kwinana Freeway, east and west to the Canning Highway and east to Manning Road. The construction of Canning Bridge station in December 2007 for the Perth to Mandurah rail line has further impacted and changed the surrounding environment. The area around the bridge exhibits a mixture of land uses including wetlands, urban infrastructure and recreation.

On the Como side of Canning Bridge between the Kwinana Freeway and the river there are no built elements. The vegetation consists of grassed riverbanks and re-established areas of native flora including Salt sheoak (Casuarina obesa), Geraldton wax (Chamelacium uncinatumm) Pencil pines (Cupressus) and a number of wattle and banksia species.


The first bridge over the Canning River was designed by the Superintendent of Public Works, Henry Trigg, who advertised for building tenders in the Perth Gazette on 26 December 1846. The original tenders for the bridge were too high so the project did not advance. In 1849 tenders were recalled and the contract was awarded to Solomon Cook. Cook completed the bridge in four months at a cost of £425. The bridge was 520 feet (175 metres) long, 12 feet (4 metres) wide and had a deck eight feet (2 metres) above the water. The central span of the bridge was 24 feet (8 metres) wide to allow boats to pass underneath.1 The bridge was an important part of road communication between Guildford, Perth and Fremantle even though for a number of years the river remained the main method of transportation of goods between the inland reaches and the coastal port.
In 1862 widespread flooding throughout the Swan and Canning Rivers led to massive damage to the Canning, Causeway and Helena (in Guildford) bridges. Owing to the damage, a second Canning Bridge was built in 1867 using convict labour. It is thought the site of the second Canning Bridge was very close to the present bridge. Canning Bridge No. 2 was built 12 feet (4 metres) above the water but was raised in 1892 to 18 feet (6 metres) to allow for increased navigational clearance.
Maintenance of the Canning Bridge and the road that linked Perth to Fremantle was given a low priority in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, leading to a deterioration of structure. According to one report from the time, a fire had caused bad damage and a replacement bridge was sought. Owing to the critical nature of the bridge, the State Government allocated funding for a new bridge in 1907-08.
Canning Bridge No. 3 was constructed in 1908 and was located south east of the bridge that is currently used (2003). Flatter in appearance and stronger in construction, the new bridge was built under contract for the cost of £2,023. At this time a fishing platform was added to the bridge. Despite the stronger construction, the 1908 bridge was replaced by a new bridge which was commenced in 1937. Built by the Main Roads Department at a cost of £24,830 Canning Bridge No. 4 was constructed with a number of essential services such as water and gas mains and electricity installed under the roadway. The navigation openings included two of 24m wide and one of 18m wide. The bridge was constructed of karri, jarrah and wandoo owing to their abundance and resistance to fire and dry rot. To protect the timber piles from marine borers, concrete collars were put in place. Enhancing the appearance of the bridge were four ornamental concrete pylons surmounted with lanterns cast in bronze and placed at the entrances.
Canning Bridge No.4 was officially opened on December 1939 by the Minister of Works, H. Millington MLA. The opening was celebrated by a small gathering of Main Roads people at the Swan Hotel. The old bridge which was going to be demolished had a reprieve owing to the outbreak of World War Two. Owing to
the fear of invasion, the old bridge was kept in case of possible damage to the new bridge by an enemy attack. The old bridge was therefore not demolished until the late 1940s.
Since then there have been various maintenance and renovation programs. In 1976 a reinforced concrete overlay was placed on the bridge deck and in 1994-5 termite damage led to karri timber being replaced by steel. In 1998-99 superstructure damage was arrested by reinforced concrete treatment. The Canning Bridge remains a vital link between South Perth and Fremantle.






Name Type Year From Year To
Henry Trigg Architect - -


Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
Edmonds, L. "The Vital Link: A History of Main Roads of WA 1926-1996" UWA Press 1997
Florey, C. "Peninsular City: A Social History of South Perth" City of South Perth 1995
Le Page, J.S.H. "Building a State: The Story of the Public Works Department WA 1829-1985"
Margetts, L. Article 'The Bridges of South Perth' South Perth- The Vanishing Village (Published by South perth Historical Society) 2002

Place Type

Historic site


Epoch General Specific
Present Use Transport\Communications Road: Bridge
Original Use Transport\Communications Road: Bridge

Architectural Styles

Other Style

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Other METAL Steel
Other TIMBER Other Timber

Historic Themes

General Specific

Creation Date

29 Nov 2005

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

25 Sep 2020


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