Yesterday I showed a piece of public art at Smith’s Lake in North Perth.
Originally Three Island Lake it is now but a remnant of its past swampy glory.
The first European owner of this lake and its surrounding land was John Smith, a Colour Sergeant with the 21st Fusiliers. I was involved in research into this soldier and wrote an essay on his life.
So I was eager to read what the City of Vincent had written on its placade at Smith’s Lake.
“A farmer named Smith” is the recognition given to one of the important men of the colony. Apart from his own achievements, his eldest son, Bernard, had been a member of the Perth City Council for its first forty years. “A farmer named Smith” is a bit of an insult.
Once I got over my annoyance, I looked around and found it is still a magical wetland.
So, the official description.
Smith’s Lake Originally much larger than the current lake, Smith’s Lake was named Danjanberup by the Aboriginal community. The Claisebrook drain was extended to the lake in the 1920s reducing the surface water. The land was used for market gardening. The
Gooey family of Albert Street were well-known Chinese market gardeners in the area for many years until their land was resumed by the Perth City Council in 1959. The council decided to drain the swamp and convert it into land for building and recreational use. The reclamation was achieved by using the area as a rubbish dump for many years. In the 1960s the land was filled and subdivided. There were 76 residential lots and 10 commercial
lots in the scheme. Part of the land was developed as a recreation reserve, named after Charles Veryard, a Perth City Councillor from 1927 to 1964 and Mayor of Perth from 1964 to his death in 1967.
Smith’s Lake has recently been changed from a concrete and lawn-edged lake back to a more natural setting, with fringing vegetation of entirely local species of plants. This is to provide habitat for frogs, invertebrates and nesting sites for water birds.
Growing in the lake’s surrounds is this marvellous tree.
All this in the midst of an old suburb which is in a state of renewal.