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Our White Swans


British colonists first introduced White Swans to Western Australia in 1896. Shortly afterwards in the early 1900's, Northam's Mayor, Oscar Bernard (a Jewish Russian settler) brought swans to Northam, which over time happened to be the only place in Australia that the species survived, and it to this day the only place in Australia that they will breed naturally in the wild. There were at one point around 80 swans on the Avon River, but today that number is considerably lower. Care has been taken to protect the remaining birds, and the last few years have seen a number of new cygnets on the river.

The White Swan became a protected species in 1950 under the Department of CALM Wildlife Conservation Act. This means it is illegal to remove a White Swan from the wild, keep a swan as a pet, or release a swan into the wild without the appropriate license. The swan is a protected species and in Northam they are cared and watched over by our local Shire Rangers and a number .

Our swans do get their required amount of food, and it is not actively advised to touch or feed them. A swan’s digestive system and nutritional requirements are very different to ours, and in addition to negatively affecting the local river ecosystem, feeding the swans harmful human foods can also make them ill and put them at risk during certain times of the year when they require a specific diet.

However, if you are going to offer them food, see the tips below on what’s good (and not so good) for our feathered friends

- shredded lettuce
- silver beet
- corn (off the cob or canned)
- peas
- grated carrot

- chopped broccoli
- cut seedless grapes


- bread (especially bread with mould- this can kill them)
- baked goods
- grains of any kind

If you’d like any more information on our white swans, pop into the Northam Visitor Centre (open 7 days 9am-4pm, except major public holidays)

Looking for the Swans but can’t spot them? Head town to the Swan Enclosure (at the Peel Terrace end of Bernard Park, or down river towards Burlong Pool- they may have ventured outside of the Town Pool. Please do not disturb the swans, or enter their habitat.