Historically it was much larger in size. The shorelines have been regularly changed.
Considerable reclamation has taken place on both sides of the river. For example, in 1879, landfill of Perth Water was used to create The Esplanade.
Narrows bridge reclamation
For the construction of the Narrows Bridge and its approaches, considerable amounts of the north-west section of Perth Water were reclaimed.
The former river bank in that area is equivalent to the edge of Mounts Bay Road. The whole new Convention Centre lies on the river side of the former river bank.
The Perth leg of the Red Bull Air Race World Series 2006
In 2006, the last race in the Red Bull Air Race World Series was the first held in Australia, and was held in Perth, with the competition being centred over Perth Water.
It has been the annual site of Australia Dayfireworks, with crowds lining the lawns and open space along the foreshores. A good view for these activities has been from Kings Park due to its elevation and position looking across the Perth Water area. Post-cards, calendar images, posters and photographs from most decades of the twentieth century exist, that show the view from the Park looking across Perth Water to the city.
Riverside Drive (then shallow waters east of Government House) - Gabbee darbul
Point Belches (south east side of Narrows Bridge area) - Gareenup
This body of water is also known as Derbarl Yerrigan, a name which has since been adopted for the whole of the Swan River. In the Noongar language, Derbarl refers to the estuary water and Yerrigan is "rising up".
Mounts Bay Road - Esplanade river edge
The earlier shore line of Perth Water can be identified by the line made by Mounts Bay Road, and its extension to The Esplanade.
From some earlier photographs and images made from Kings Park it is possible to ascertain the earlier river-edges, or banks, from tree lines. The photo here is of the part of the river that was filled in to accommodate the Narrows Bridge works.
Mounts Bay Road and Perth Water, 1947 photograph from Kings Park
Perth Water in 2015 from Kings Park, showing the navigable channel close to the north shore
The main route for deep draught boats to navigate Perth Water is from the Narrows Bridge to Barrack Street Jetty, then following a channel close to the north shore parallel to Riverside Drive.
The channel was dredged from as early as 1908 to keep the South Perth to Perth ferry channel clear; such maintenance is an ongoing issue.
Ferries between Elizabeth Quay and Mends Street about to pass each other in May 2018
^Edmonds, Jack (editor) (1979) Swan River colony : life in Western Australia since the early colonial settlement, illustrated by pictures from an exhibition mounted by West Australian Newspapers Ltd. as a contribution to celebrations for the state's 150th year Perth: West Australian Newspapers.ISBN0909699208 - front cover, pages 2-3, 6,7, 36,37,54,68,70,84,88 all have views of Perth Water.
^Vinnicombe, Patricia; Western Australian Museum (1989), Goonininup : a site complex on the southern side of Mount Eliza : an historical perspective of land use and associations in the old Swan Brewery area, Western Australian Museum, ISBN978-0-7309-3662-6 - page 37 - Public Plan of Perth (Cancelled 1909) ID/40, see also Appendix I Named places in Kings Park and vicinity from Bloor, Liz; Western Australia. Dept. of Aboriginal Sites (1987), Aboriginal usage of Kings Park, West Perth, W.A., 1987, retrieved 2015 pages 17 and 18
^Collard, Len; Winfield, Carol. Boodjargabbeelup:Point Fraser Cultural interpretation Nyungar. City of Perth.