The Kalgan River is a river in the great southern region of Western Australia.
The mouth of the river is found at coordinates 34°57'3.13"S 117°58'41.41"E.
The river is long and, along with the King River, drains into Oyster Harbour. The lower nine kilometres of the river take the form of a drowned river valley with steep hillsides of forest and farmland, and the occasional outcrop of granite .
The river's source is west of the Stirling Ranges and rises north west of Kendenup and flows generally southwards until it reaches Oyster Harbour about 10km northeast of Albany. It was named as the 'Riviere des Francais' by the French Scientific Expedition in 1803 captained by French explorer Nicolas Baudin in the Geographe who anchored in Oyster Harbour, and was subsequently known as the 'French River' by early settlers. The explorer Dr Alexander Collie recorded the river as 'Kal-gan-up' in April 1831. The name Kalganup is believed to be the Noongar word for 'place of many waters'. Kalganup is also thought to mean 'place of fishes' and there are still the remains of Aboriginal fish traps to prove the point. The Kalgan River is the Region’s fourth largest river in terms of average annual flow (53,400 megalitres), and has the third largest catchment area (2,562 km²). The upper reaches of the Kalgan lie protected within the National Park. These tributaries are marginally saline to brackish, suggesting the levels of salinity are natural. The loss of catchment vegetation (66% of the catchment is cleared) has increased salinity levels downstream.
The fringing vegetation
of the estuarine
portion of the Kalgan river is dominated by the Saltwater paperbark
trees surrounded by dense stands of coastal saw sedge
and shore rushes
The downstream freshwater parts of the river have a much greater variety of species with a fringing forest that includes swamp paperbark
and western australian peppermint trees
. Further inland species such as swamp yate
, flooded gum
and varieties of banksia
Parts of the riverbank that have been cleared support a variety of introduced weeds that are shallow rooted. In areas where the native deep rooted species have been lost erosion
of the river bank has become a problem.
Many wildflowers can be found along the Luke Pen Walk, a trail that follows the river for the 9km before it reaches Oyster Harbour. Some of the varieties include Hovea trisperma
(common hovea), Hovea pungens
(devil’s pins), Hovea elliptica
(tree hovea), Adenanthos obovatus
(basket flower), Lysinema ciliatum
(curry flower), Leucopogeon pulchelus
(beard heath), Dryandra sessilis
(parrot bush), Dryandra squarrosa
(pringle) and Acacia extensa
The estuarine end of the Kalgan is good fishing for many species including black bream
with a few skippy, herring
, mulloway and whiting
The Kalgan is renowned as being an excellent place to fish for bream
. Some of the state's largest bream have been caught in the river.
Smaller freshwater species that can be found in the kalgan include the western galaxias
), the common jollytail
), the mud minnow
), Balston's pygmy perch
), Nightfish (Bostockia porosa
) and the western pygmy perch
The river is home to a large population of birds. In the estuarine part of the river species such as the Australian Pelican
, Little Black Cormorant
, Pied Cormorant
, Pied Oystercatcher
, Black-winged Stilt
, Common Sandpiper
, Australian White Ibis
, Straw-necked Ibis
, Yellow-billed Spoonbill
, Pacific Gull
and Caspian Tern
can often be seen.
The freshwater parts of the river also support an enormous variety of birds including Nankeen Kestrel
, Australian Hobby
, Wedge-tailed Eagle
, Short-billed Black-Cockatoo
, Long-billed Black-Cockatoo
, Little Corella
, Purple-crowned Lorikeet
, Red-capped Parrot
, Laughing Kookaburra
, Willie Wagtail
, White-breasted Robin
, Splendid Fairy-wren
, New Holland Honeyeater
, Red Wattlebird
and Red-eared Firetail
Amphibious species that can be commonly be found in and around the river are frogs such as the western banjo
and moaning frogs
Reptiles that are frequent the area include Tiger snakes
The southern end of the Kalgan river has two bridges of note: The Upper Kalgan bridge and the Lower Kalgan Bridge.
The Lower Kalgan Bridge was opened in March 1905, at in length, it was the longest of its kind over water in the State at the time. At this time the bridge had a special navigation span wide at the deepest part of the river.
The original bridge remained in place until 1958, when it was replaced, but the navigation span trusses were removed for preservation and are now on display in the park at the western end of the bridge.
The Kalgan river is a place of great significance to the local Noongar
people. A dreaming story tells us of a husband and his wife who lived in the Porongurup ranges. The husband beat his wife terribly but she escaped from him by stumbling through the thick bushland. As the wife ran through the bush her digging stick trailed over the Earth and cut open the soil behind her forming the path of the Kalgan river.
Luke Pen Walk
The Luke Pen Walk is a track that follows the Kalgan that was constructed in 1997. The walk is described as easy with the terrain being generally flat and even. With a total length of it can take about 4 hours o complete the round trip.
The Luke Pen Walk was named after Dr Luke Pen, a local scientist, who made significant contributions to the local community with his presevation work. The walk was named in 2002 following the death of Dr Pen.
The northern end of the walk is near the Upper Kalgan Bridge and is on the Eastern Bank of the river, the southern end of the walk is located at the end of East Bank road about north of the lower Kalgan bridge.
- Muirden,Peter: Pen, Luke and Marnie Leybourne (2003) Stream and catchment hydrology in South West Western Australia Perth, W.A. Dept. of Environment. Department of Environment river restoration, 1442-6919 ; report no. RR19 ISBN 1920849246
- Pen, Luke J.(1999) Managing our rivers : a guide to the nature and management of the streams of south-west Western Australia (editor, June Hutchison) East Perth, W.A. : Water and Rivers Commission. ISBN 0730974502