From almost the first moment of colonisation in 1829, the question of how to best harness and make use of Perth's riverfront setting has taxed the minds of its citizens and administrators.
To develop or not to develop, to reclaim or not to reclaim, to retain the broad green doorstep created in stages between the 1880s and 1950s or turn it into a thriving cosmopolitan hub at the water's edge - for 180 years the cycle of view and counterview has ebbed and flowed almost as regularly as the tide.
This week the Australian Urban Design Research Centre - The University of Western Australia's urban design think tank - brings together a selection of the myriad foreshore-shaping plans conceived, developed or discarded between 1833 and 2013.
From the 1833 Arrowsmith Plan with its generous foreshore reserve to the futuristic imaginings of the Ashton Raggatt McDougall scheme proposed by the then Labor Government in 2008 - dubbed Dubai on the Swan and featuring a swan-shaped island - the Take me to the River exhibition explores past plans, the thinking behind them, and how they fit into the ongoing conversation about the river's future.
The non-partisan exhibition also represents a call to arms for those responsible for the river's future, with urban planning expert Julian Bolleter, an assistant professor at the AUDRC, lamenting the lack of overarching vision for Perth Water.
In an essay within the exhibition catalogue, Assistant Professor Bolleter reviews the most significant of the plans - right up to the currently-under-construction Elizabeth Quay - and points out that even after all this time, Perth still has no coordinated approach to the entirety of Perth Water and surrounds.
While he praises Elizabeth Quay as a start and acknowledges the City of Perth's comprehensive 2007 plan for the northern edges of Perth Water, he says these represent only a part of the 8km of foreshore surrounding Perth Water. That foreshore is governed by a series of separate stakeholders typically focused on their own small sections rather than how they fit into the bigger picture.
"The potential pitfall of this arrangement of fragmented jurisdictions is that the cumulative contribution of Perth Water and its surrounds to a broader context is not considered," he said.
He said a coordinated vision was also necessary in order to end the cycle of reaction and counter-reaction which had dominated the history of river planning, and to anticipate the impacts of sea level rise, flooding from increasingly intense storm events, and growing population.
"To this end a broader vision is needed which can reconcile the various functions - practical and symbolic - which Perth Water should provide to a projected urban population of 4.2 million people in 2056 and beyond."
The Take me to the River exhibition, at Level 2, 1002 Hay Street, Perth, opened last night and runs until 15 November. It is open weekdays from 9am to 5pm, and 9am-5pm 2-3 November as part of Open House Perth.