UWA Oceans Institute

Ernest Hodgkin's Swanland

In September 1998, shortly before his death at the age of ninety, Ernest Hodgkin set up a Trust Fund through the National Trust (WA), and made a substantial bequest from his estate to continue the work that was important to him – research and education to promote sound management of Western Australia’s estuaries.

Ernest Hodgkin was born in Madagascar and trained in England as a zoologist and entomologist. On graduating Hodgkin and his wife Mary settled in Malaya where he worked as a medical entomologist until the outbreak of war in 1941. Interred as a civilian prisoner in Singapore he spent four years in Changi Gaol. Post war he joined his family in Perth and was employed as a lecturer in Zoology at the University of Western Australia. In 1950 he was awarded a doctoral degree in science. At the university he supervised marine research along the coast and in the estuaries. After his retirement in 1973 he continued work as a consultant and developed a great love and understanding of estuarine environments, and became known as the Father of Estuarine Studies.

‘Hodge’, as he was known to his colleagues, nominated six Trustees to oversee the writing of a book (SWANLAND) about the estuaries and to foster student research projects.


  • Adrian Wood (2012-2015) Chair
  • Emeritus Professor Diana Walker (1998-2015)
  • Malcolm Robb (1998-2015)
  • Tom Perrigo (National Trust WA)(1998-2015)
  • Dr Anne Brearley (2005-2015)
  • Dr Rob Rippingale (2012-2015)


  • Graham Hodgkin (1998-2009) (Chair 1998-2001)
  • Dr Bruce Hamilton (1998-2013) (Chair 2001-2006)
  • Karen Majer (1998-2012) (Chair 2006-2009)
  • Marie Martin (Chair 2009-2012)
  • Dr Jamie O’Shea (2007-2010)
  • Martha Wood (2012-2014)

The Ernest Hodgkin Trust has supported student scholarships and student research awards to students at Edith Cowan University (ECU), Murdoch University, and The University of Western Australia. A prize for the best student presentation focused on estuaries has also been awarded for the last nine years at the annual Australian Marine Sciences Conference.


In 2005 the Trust released the landmark book, Ernest Hodgkin’s Swanland – Estuaries and Coastal Lagoons of South-western Australia by Dr Anne Brearley, published by the University of Western Australia Press. The large book of 550 pages and more than 412 illustrations was Short-listed for the Premier’s Book Award (non-fiction category) in 2005.

In 2016 the Ernest Hodgkin Trust is to be closed having fulfilled the aims of the Trust according to Ernest Hodgkin’s deed. The Estuarine Prize for the Best Student presentation at the annual Australian Marine Sciences Association will continue with funds allocated by the EHT. The remainder of the funds, will be administered by The University of Western Australia in perpetuity to support research projects by graduate students.

 Copies of Swanland are still available and can be obtained from anne.brearley@uwa.edu.au.

In recognition of Hodgkin’s earlier work in the estuary of the Blackwood River estuary (1974-5), which was one of the first multidisciplinary studies of a system and the basis of later studies in the Peel-Harvey system, the Trustees also commissioned a more detailed review of the Blackwood. Revisiting the Blackwood River and Hardy Inlet – 40 Years of Change – An environmental review of the Blackwood River estuary Western Australia 1974-2010 (88 Pages) was released in Augusta in December 2013. Based on the original Environmental Study of the Blackwood River Estuary Western Australia 1974-1975, Report No 1 of the Department of Conservation and Environment 1978 written by Ernest Hodgkin, the 2013 review summarises the recent studies of the system, the changes in the river and estuary and our knowledge of it.


Downloads of the chapters of Revisiting the Blackwood River and Hardy Inlet are also available below.

Dr Anne Brearley
Honorary Research Fellow

School of Plant Biology 

Oceans Institute (M470)

The University of Western Australia
39 Fairway Crawley 6009
Western Australia

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Download chapters of the booklet

Revisiting the Blackwood River and Hardy Inlet

by Dr Anne Brearley,

Downloads of Swanland chapters are not yet available 



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