This trail is located in Roleystone, a village in the Perth Hills of Western Australia. It is a peaceful place in which you will be able to appreciate the tranquil bushland along this part of the Canning River. We hope to encourage you to take time to appreciate the flora, fauna and landscape of this area and to observe remnants of local history.


The trail is approximately 1.2 km long from end to end and should take a reasonably fit adult walking briskly about 15 minutes to complete.  Please take the time to enjoy a more leisurely walk in order to immerse yourself in the beautiful environment. The numbered posts along the way correlate with the brochure which explains these points of interest. Further descriptions, photos and information has been added to this webpage so that you can learn more and find other webpages that will extend our summaries.

The trail is fairly rocky and uneven. It is not suitable for wheelchairs or people not steady on their feet. Care needs to be taken with walking on the loose gravel. Also be on the lookout for overhead branches, ants, spiders and snakes.

roleypool 2013 c.horgan 4 Medium

Starting point:

The walking trail starts in a carpark on Soldiers Rd, Roleystone. (Turn into Soldiers Road from the Brookton Hwy, cross the bridge over the Canning River then turn right into the carpark).  Walk under the bridge to start the trail. Follow the trail using the numbered signs. The end of the trail is at Thompson Road. When you reach this point, either make your way back or turn left onto Thompson Rd, walk along Thompson across the small bridge and turn left into Collins Road. Walk down Collins Road until you see the steps which go down to Roley Pool and at the bottom of the steps, turn right and follow the track. This will end at another small carpark next to Soldiers Road. You will need to cross Soldiers Road and make your way along it back to the first car park on the either side (please take care as this is a dangerous stretch of road to cross).

Keep your dogs on a lead, clean up after them, take rubbish out with you and respect the environment by not picking wildflowers. No horses, motor bikes or vehicles allowed.

Enjoy your walk

roleypool 2013 c.horgan 1 MediumThe trail starts after passing under the bridge here

map canningrivertrail soldiers to thompson


Download a PDF of the Canning River Interpretive Trail brochure here.

Pick up your FREE copy of the Canning River Interpretive Trail brochure at the following places:

  • Roleystone Hardware Store

 1. The Canning River and its history

trail canning.damThis interpretive walk trail takes us along the banks of a small section of the Canning River. The catchment of this river stretches back into the eastern jarrah forest. The River eventually flows into the Swan River at Burswood. The Canning Dam, 8 km south-east of Roleystone, became an important part of Perth's water supply when it was commissioned in 1940. Prior to the construction of the Canning Dam there were very large seasonal flows each winter which ran down the river raising the water level by 3-4 metres as it poured down the valley scouring out the deep pools. In the summer months a small water flow was naturally maintained by many permanent springs that exist along the valley.

After the commissioning of the Dam the large annual winter flows were reduced dramatically and only occurred when the dam was full and overflowed. The overflow events however quickly became rare as Perth's water use increased - last time the dam overflowed was in 1973. Now there is so little natural water flow during summer that Perth's drinking water is pumped into the river at the Araluen Botanical Gardens to keep water flowing for environmental benefits. However, the massive reduction in water volume has had a profound impact on the ecology of the river and remains the biggest threat to the river ecosystem.

More information about our water supply can be found in our Bush Topics called Canning Dam and also on the following websites: Australian Heritage Database and State Heritage Office.

  2. Rivercare

This part of the River is 'well-loved' by local residents and this community helps in the conservation and management of the ecosystem. The Armadale Gosnells Landcare Group (AGLA) coordinate a program which involves weed removal and the planting of local species in disturbed areas. You will see evidence of their planting program at this site which was once very open and dominated by weeds.

The AGLG is always seeking volunteers; if you are interested in volunteering then please contact AGLG through

trail canning.river reveg.1 1Pat Hart volunteering to plant seedlings

trail canning.river reveg.1 2Paul Mutton with his daughter Amelia 

trail canning.river reveg 3AGLG supervisor and volunteers sorting the new seedlings

 3. Water Supply

From 1937 to 1975 water from the Canning Dam was transported to Perth through an open channel, locally known as 'the Contour Channel'. Eventually a tunnel was constructed between Canning Dam and Roleystone and the pipe crossing the River was part of the infrastructure to transport the water.

Currently the Canning Dam is a very important component of the Water Corporation's integrated water supply system. Water is now transported from desalinisation plants on the coast to the Canning Dam!

The fresh water is produced from the desalination plants on the coast and the water needs to be stored – hence the use of the Canning Dam. The capacity of the Dam is 122 gigalitres which is about one fortieth of Perth's current water needs.

The most unusual feature of this river is the permanent water flow throughout the year. The river has a large catchment and prior to the construction of the Canning Dam upstream each winter very large seasonal flows ran down the river raising the water level by 3-4 metres as it poured down the valley scouring out the deep pools. In the summer months a small water flow was naturally maintained by many permanent springs that exist along the valley in the few kilometres up the valley from the reserve.

After the construction of the Canning Dam in 1940, the large annual winter flows down the river were reduced dramatically and only occurred when the dam was full and overflowed. The overflow events however quickly became rare as Perth's water use increased and the last time the dam overflowed was in 1973.

Landowners with properties adjacent to the river have rights to draw from the river, springs, and groundwater. Small private dams catch additional water that would have otherwise flowed into the river. Now there is so little natural water flow during summer that Perth drinking water is continually pumped into the river at the Araluen Botanical Gardens to keep water flowing through the reserve. In winter the water height is only raised by half a metre during heavy rain.

The massive reduction in water volume has had a profound impact on the ecology of the river and remains the biggest threat to the river ecosystem.

More information about our water supply can be found in Bush Topics:

trail canning.river pipeThis pipe crosses the Canning River near Roley Pool

 4. Steamlife

Quietly surviving below the water and amongst the reeds is an uncommon assortment of small animals not normally found in the surrounding 'dry' hills.

There are four or five species of small native fish that permanently live here such as the Pygmy Perch, Nighfish, Western Minnow, and Freshwater Cobbler. The most common small fish you see on the surface however is the introduced gambusia or mosquito fish.

There are also five or six species of frogs present in the reserve. They have different breeding times so throughout the year you will hear different calls. In summer the large "motorbike frog" breeds, and in winter you will hear loud calls from the very small "quacking frog" and "ticking frog".

If you are very lucky, you may spot a Long Necked Tortoise, but it is unlikely that you will see the very secretive "Rakali" or native "Australian Water Rat" which is most active at dawn and dusk. The Rakali was once prized for its dense waterproof fur but now you are mostly likely to only see the remains of its freshwater mussel, marron, and gilgie meals on the rocks by the river.

galaxias.occidentalisGalaxias occidentalis

tandanus.bostockiTandanus Bostoki









More information about our water supply can be found in Bush Topics:

 5. Geology

The two main rock types that you can see in the reserve are granite and dolerite. The granite is comprised of light coloured minerals and a few specks of darker minerals can be seen if you look closely. Dolerite is a uniform dark grey and the crystals are too small to be seen clearly with your eyes.

This granite is very old and initially formed about 2500 million years ago. It is the main rock type in a large area called the "Yilgarn Craton" that makes up about one third of Western Australia. The western margin of this is the Darling Fault which is only 5 km away down the river in Kelmscott.

The dolerite is about half the age of the granite and is very hard and heavy. It was squeezed under great pressures into weak zones in the granite and forms ribbon like bodies called dykes. These may extend for hundreds of kilometres but only be 10-20m wide. Because it is so hard and is more resistant to weathering it forms many of the ridges and rocky outcrops in the reserve.

Free EBook about the Darling Scarp

logo changingearthFor more information about the geology in this area, go to the iTunes Store and download an eBook for Ipad created by SPICE (Secondary Science Teachers’ Enrichment Program).

Changing Earth: The Darling Scarp tells the story of the Darling Scarp, a 2.5 billion year old geological feature, and backdrop to the modern city of Perth, Western Australia. Key geological processes that led to the Darling Scarp’s formation are investigated, allowing readers to relate present day landscapes to events of the past.

Changing Earth: The Darling Scarp is designed to explore key concepts relating to the Year 9 Australian Science Curriculum, Earth and Space Sciences, this geological journey begins with the formation of Earth, and explores past, present, and future continental movement. It explains the geological processes that formed features in both local and global landscapes, including granite intrusions, dolerite dykes, and sand-dune formations.


trail dolerite graniteThe rocks are labelled

trail canningriver geology 1This part of the trail has some signs on the rock face to the right indicating whether it is dolerite or granite.


roleypool 2013 c.horgan 40 MediumRoley Poolroleypool 2013 c.horgan 41 MediumRoley Pool

6. Roley Pool

For many years, stretching from the early 1920's right through to early 1960's Roley Pool was the main social gathering point for the local community with even a Roleystone Swimming Club based here. In the early 1920's Mr. Bert Collins a local orchardist who lived in Roleystone joined the Royal Life Saving Society (a membership he maintained right up until his death in 1946) and began teaching life saving instructions to the community and was elected as the formal instructor for the newly formed Roleystone Swimming Club. There were many swimming carnivals held at Roley Pool with visitors from numerous clubs including Pickering Brook. When the Armadale Council purchased the land adjacent to Collins Road, the Roleystone Progress Association constructed change rooms on the site. Every year prior to swimming commencing local members of the community would go down to Roley Pool and clean out the rocks and sticks which were bought down the River by the strong winter flows. Connected to the main Roley Pool is a smaller shallow pool on the high side which was where the younger members of the community used to learn how to swim.

canning.river.trail 1Roley Pool

Even with the creation of Canning Dam in early 1940's there was still sufficient water flowing for a healthy swimming pool to be functional. It wasn't until the early 1960's when the flow virtually ceased that there were real health issues with the water quality and swimming at the pool was then banned by the local authority. The Roley Pool site was then virtually abandoned and blackberry, bamboos, watsonias and many other weeds invaded the waterway and surrounding areas.

Members of the community saw the many challenges the site had and decided to make Roley Pool the key focus in 1995 for the establishment of the Armadale Gosnells Landcare Group. Since then the partnership between the Armadale Gosnells Landcare Group, Roleybushcare, City of Armadale and Swan River Trust has seen amazing transformation of the initial pool site on Collins Drive, Roleystone now extending to cover the area all the way along to Soldiers Road Bridge.

More information about our water supply can be found in Bush Topics:Introduction to Roley Pool

Image 16 Sepia at Roley Pool PH650Photo taken in the past at Roley Pool showing the old diving board.

















 7. Birds

While walking along the river bank you will see and hear a wide range of bird species – from the magnificent wedgetail eagle circling above you to the honeyeaters flitting from shrub to shrub. The most likely, and easily observed birds you will see are the Pacific Black ducks – these are usually in the pools along the river. The Pacific Black Duck is found in all but the most arid regions of Australia. Outside Australia, its range extends throughout the Pacific region. This species is mainly vegetarian, feeding on seeds of aquatic plants. This diet is supplemented with small crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic insects. Food is obtained by 'dabbling', where the bird plunges its head and neck underwater and upends, raising its rear end vertically out of the water.

A spectacular bird you may be lucky to see is a sacred kingfisher. The birds perch on low exposed branch on the lookout for prey. Once prey is located, the Sacred Kingfisher swoops down and grasps it in its bill, returning to the perch to eat it. Another stunning bird you may find along the river is the white-faced heron.

Kingfisher Sacred. M.MorcombeKingfisher Sacred Photo by M.Morcombe

White faced Heron LLH 731 CJiri Lochman Transparencies MediumWhite faced Heron-photo Lochman Transparencies
















8. Trees

The most common tree along the River is the Flooded Gum (Eucalyptus rudis). This species is usually restricted to river banks and floodplains. However, in sections of the River they extend upslope , indicating the presence of subsurface water. Wandoo (Eucalyptus wandoo) and Marri (Corymbia calophylla) are the most common tree species on the slopes leading away from the River. The Flooded Gum is in decline in many parts of WA where insects called psyllids are defoliating the trees by laying their eggs within the leaves. However, the Flooded Gum trees along this stretch of the River are relatively healthy. Have a look at the leaves to check for psyllids.

trail canningriver floodedgumFlooded gum

wandoo 6 MediumWandoo

Roley Pool 3 MediumPaperbark


Wandoo trees are particularly drought tolerant and tend to dominate sites where the bedrock is close to the surface and hence has little water stored in the shallow soils. When you get More information about our trees can be found in Bush Topics:

 9. Land Fauna

A range of mammals will visit the environs of this part of the Canning River. Both the Western Grey and the Black Footed Wallaby are common around the River and the forest around Roleystone. Quendas (also known as Bandicoots) live in the thick streamzone vegetation and are now very common in the bush blocks in Roleystone. Surveys have shown that the population of Quendas in the coastal Plain around Perth is declining but their density in the Hills areas is still high.

Reptiles are also attracted to the banks of the River because of the dense vegetation, wetter conditions and the presence of small animals. Snakes such as Dugites, Tiger Snakes and Carpet Pythons will be present. The Carpet Python is recognised by the State Government as being rare – it is relatively harmless to humans unlike the other two snakes that are highly venomous. There will also be a range of skinks present such as the much-loved Bobtail and large, black King skinks.

Image 15 Carpet Python LLF 466 C Jiri Lochman LT SmallCarpet Python Photo by C Jiri Lochman

Image 14 bobtail SmallBobytail-photo by Mark Allen

 Quenda-photo by Keith LightbodyQuenda-photo by Keith Lightbody


More information about our fauna can be found in Bush Topics:

  10. Indigenous Heritage

The indigenous people from the south-west of Australia are called the Noongar (Noong-ar). Within the Noongar people there were several groups. The Canning Valley was the border between the Pindarup group to the south and the Wadjuk group centred on the Swan River to the north. At the time of European settlement the Wadjuk subgroup in the area was known as the Beeloo. The leader was a young man named Munday who while involved in some retribution killing of two
white brothers, was later pardoned and became a police aide.

The valley formed a natural track for the Aboriginal people traversing from the flat coastal plain to the hills area and beyond as they moved between seasonal food sources. The first European settlers' tracks often followed Aboriginal trails and the original Albany highway (constructed 1829 – 1831) passed up this valley.

There are no recorded specific indigenous heritage sites of significance in the reserve; however water bodies hold a special spiritual significance in Noongar culture. The Noongar dreamtime story tells of the creation of the Swan and Canning Rivers by a Rainbow serpent or "Wagyl" who protects water bodies and may reside in them. As the Wagyl moved over the land, the track formed the course of the rivers and where he stopped, bays and lakes were formed.


While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information and suitability of the pedestrian users of this brochure and the facilities do so at their own risk. Roleybushcare does not accept liability for any inaccuracies contained herein, or any damage, injury or other consequences arising from the use of this publication or use of the facilities.


This brochure was funded by a community grant from the Department of Parks and Wildlife.