Lake Monger

Willem de Vlamingh saw them in 1697.  The first settlers in 1829.  Now you can see them over 300 years later, on the shores of Lake Monger.... and we're not talking empty Coke bottles.

Black Swans to be precise, and lots of them.  You can of course, spot them along the Swan River, however on the Lake Monger Reserve they gather, and hunt in packs.  Perhaps the word hunt is a bit too strong, but they will definitely give you a nasty scare. Particularly if you approach their young chicks.  Luckily the Black Swan is a vegetarian, preferring to eat algae, and water weeds.   It's better not to feed them, though if you must, use only a few small pieces of fresh lettuce.

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus).

 

The Black Swan or for those with a
technical mind the Cygnus atratus.

A Black Swan with a young chick.

Black Swans prefer large brackish wetlands, which rather accurately describes Lake Monger.  Having a lot of wide open space is important to Black Swans, as they are the Jumbo Jets of the wetlands.  Or should that be wet-takeoffs, because these birds require in excess of 40 metres of aquatic runway to get airborne.  Most of the flying is done at night, as they enjoy resting during the daylight hours with other Black Swans.  Black Swans do occasionally graze on the grassed areas of the Lake Monger Reserve, particularly with their young chicks. Though they appear much more graceful when swimming, or in flight.  The chicks start life covered in grey down, and can immediately feed and swim after popping out of their eggs.   They develop a long slender neck, which is handy for plunging into the water in search of food.

A Black Swan with a young chick.

 

The Black Swan is the only entirely black coloured swan in the world, which explains why they startled Willem de Vlamingh when he first saw them in 1697.  Everybody thought swans had to be white, so a statue commemorating this historical moment has been erected on the Swan River.  We can only be thankful that Willem de Vlamingh never visited Lake Monger, as his Post Traumatic Swan Disorder would have been too much to handle.

Shocking in 1697 though quite tame by today's standards.

 

 Shocking in 1697.  Tame by today's standards.

The Lake Monger Story:  The Lake Monger Reserve is located 5km north of Perth.  Perth is built on a series of reclaimed wetlands.  Most have now been drained, however Lake Monger was retained for ecological, and recreational purposes.  Before Mr John Monger settled in the area during the 1830's, the lake was called Lake Galup, by the local indigenous people.  They used the lake as a camping and hunting ground for over forty thousand years.  Things changed over time.  By the 1920's the lake was used for swimming, yachting, fishing, and as a trendy picnic spot.  With a kiosk, boat house, jetty, and bathing sheds, Lake Monger was a favourite place for the people of Perth.

Lake Monger with Perth in the distance.

Lake Monger.

PERTH ALERT:  Lake Monger did not entirely escape the land reclamation bug.  From the early 1900's rubbish was being dumped into the lake, and that included some pretty nasty stuff.  It came as no surprise that the pleasant afternoon dip in the lake, was soon restricted to big toes only.

Dark clouds gather over Lake Monger.

 

Dark clouds gather over Lake Monger.

Fortunately the problem was addressed, when an environmental plan was established for the lake in 1959.  During the 1960's an island was even created in the south west corner of the lake to encourage the bird life to return.   Just like a children's fairytale, this story also has a happy ending.

Happy Times at Lake Monger.

The birds did come back, and in huge numbers.  Special bird watching jetties have been erected on the shoreline, where visitors can now feed, observe, and photograph the abundant wildlife.  A handy 3.5km path circles the lake, which is popular for walking and exercising.  It is still a nice spot for a picnic,... and of swimming?  Well perhaps we should leave that to the birds, and the population of man eating mutant goldfish.

Happy Times at Lake Monger.  Wildlife is now
the only stuff that floats on the surface.

 
 

Lake Monger Observation Deck.

 

Ok... so I don't know what it's called!

 
 

An observation deck on the shore
of Lake Monger.

 

It's not all about Black Swans.  Though they're easier to identify.

 

 

LOCATION:  The Lake Monger Reserve is located in the Perth suburb of Wembley.  Easy access is via the car park at the Dodd Street end of the Reserve.  The Lake Monger Reserve covers an area of 113 hectares, of which 70 hectares is lake, and the balance is parkland.  If you want to learn a nifty trick on how to take a photo of Perth from Lake Monger, then visit the page on Perth Water.  Curious about that statue of Willem de Vlamingh and the Black Swan?  Why not check out the photo on the Vlamingh page.

Copyright 2008 LifeOnPerth.com