I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published August 10th 2015
Have a picnic with a view and a walk or two
Perth is a pretty dry place and as such, it's not surprising that we have quite a few dams to store water and hope that we'd have enough (Bad news is: No, we don't. So please use less water).
However, lack of water notwithstanding, a dam is always a pretty place to visit, as there's generally more lush greeneries around the water, high spots (such as the dam wall) to enjoy the view from, and facilities provided by the local council or Water Corporation. Canning Dam ticks all the above boxes and our family enjoyed a beautiful winter day complete with a picnic and a refreshing walk.
Canning Dam is located on Lady McNess Drive (or just McNess Drive on some maps), not far from Araluen Botanical Garden, Roleystone. Now, if you wonder who on earth Lady McNess is, just look at this copy of The Western Mail newspaper, 11 March 1937. In short, it reported that Sir Charles McNess donated about £7400 (about one-third of the total cost) for the construction of a new road from Brookton Highway to Canning Dam. He did this in memory of his wife who passed away in February that year, thus the name of the road: Lady McNess Drive. I always find little pieces of history like this fascinating, but I digress...
The next thing you might want to know about Canning Dam: what can we see/ do there? The answer to this question can be quite long, so I'm going to do this in a few paragraphs. Firstly, you can have a picnic. There are two main picnic areas for visitors to the dam. The lower picnic area (the first one reached if approaching from Brookton Highway) has the most complete facilities: a carpark, picnic tables, BBQ, toilets, and a playground.
Picnic by the brook under the blooming branches, lower picnic area.
The upper picnic area (the one near the top of the dam wall) also has a carpark and plentiful picnic facilities, but doesn't seem to have a playground. However, this is compensated by having a better view across the dam.
One of the lookouts, upper picnic area
Before or after your picnic, do set aside some time to take a walk. There are several walking paths, which could be accessed from both the lower and/or upper carparks. The paths are generally marked clearly with signs, so you can feel safe just wandering around and taking photos from different viewpoints.
Canning Dam from a different viewpoint
There are a few historical landmarks too, as the dam is really quite old (construction began in 1933), so keep your eyes peeled for the interesting signages that give us clues as to how the area was different in the olden days.
And of course a visit to a dam won't be complete without traversing the length of the dam wall itself. This is made easy by the wide avenue along the wall, with water on one side and dry land on the other, giving you that special view that only walking on dam walls could provide.
Walking on the dam wall
What I'd propose for those with average fitness level would be to park your vehicle at the lower picnic area and walk to the upper picnic area/ dam wall. Yes, it's uphill but it's not that far and the walk is so pretty that you'll be there before you know it.