Swan River Project


A multidisciplinary, multitechnology assessment of Upper Reaches of the Swan, Canning and Avon Rivers.

Building on the initial work of Colin Scrimshaw and MAAWA’s Scrimshaw Project. It will further develop 3DMAPPR methods and adapt them to low visibility environments. We envision this as a long running project, and a template that can inform other avocational and professional organisations to investigate underwater cultural heritage in rivers.

Initial work has begun around Guildford - an early townsite and agricultural droving area. We are expecting to find jetties, slipways, abandoned vessels and possibly weirs.


  • Compare off-the-shelf equipment to professional level equipment, in particular sidescan sonar. This will help us determine if the quality of the data is worth time spent gathering.

  • Establish a scope of work made possible by new technologies in the upper reaches of metropolitan Australian rivers.

  • Initial assessment of the underwater cultural heritage of the Guildford region over a broad range of historical periods.

  • This assessment will become a template for site investigation in rivers and will expand to upper and lower reaches of the Swan, Canning and Avon Rivers.


  • Various datasets will be used to locate good potential areas, for example the use of historical aerial photography, maps, photographs etc.

  • The initial assessment of the site will be by remote sensing using commercial and recreational grade sidescan sonar, and magnetometer.

  • Any significant sites identified will be ground truthed by diver and ideally recorded with photography or photogrammetry. Sites will be tagged, measured and located using GPS and visual transects.

  • Sites will be further investigated using discriminating metal detectors.

  • An important part of the project is an evaluation of off the shelf technologies, which we will compare to existing WAM datasets and equipment.

The ALC 40 Barge in the Swan River.

The ALC 40 Barge in the Swan River.

An avocational Project

MAAWA is a volunteer group that has proven itself capable of leading academically rigorous research. There is potential for similar groups all over the world to investigate the archaeology of their local river systems. 3DMAPPR pioneered the use of underwater 3D photogrammetry using off the shelf technology - we hope to build on this success.

Thanks to MADWAM for their support.

Thanks to MADWAM for their support.


Patrick Morrison - Project Coordinator - secretary@maawa.net

Maritime Archaeological Association of Western Australia: Main Investigative Support

Western Australian Museum supplying supplementary assistance with logistics and technology.

Project VIdeos

The playlist below includes project vlogs, as well as a presentation about MAAWA Swan River work at the AIMA Conference in 2017.

Guildford Sidescan Map

The map above shows 6 different sidescan runs in the river around Guildford. Layers can be toggled in the top right, and transparency altered by the slider. Clicking places a marker, with the coordinates shown on the lower left. Data collected using a Lowrance HD9 on the 21st of August 2018. More information on Patrick Morrison's blog.