Distance: 17km full circuit.
Where: Bayswater to East Perth
Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy ride.
Stuff you’ll need: Hat, sunscreen, snacks, water (2L minimum), sturdy enclosed shoes.
When you stop and think about it, the Swan River is pretty special. Compared to many other rivers in the world, it’s clean, easy to access, and still has wildlife to see and wetlands to explore. However, it’s not usually top of the list for outdoor adventures. For me, the Swan River used to be just something I ride past on the way to work; pleasant wallpaper on the way to somewhere else. But in the last few weeks, I’ve decided it deserves a closer look.
The Swan River has over 72kms to explore, which is a bit much for one blog post, so I’ve started with the area within easy reach on my bike – the wetlands between Windan Bridge in East Perth and Garrett Road Bridge in Bayswater.
Unlike a bush adventure, a river bike ride or walk doesn’t really need step-by-step instructions – just follow the path around the river! So instead of giving you a detailed itinerary, I thought I’d point out a few spots to investigate and then leave the rest up to you.
One thing I will recommend is to explore the river by bike. You can cover much more ground on two wheels and the car free cyclepaths make it a safe and easy ride. (Do watch out for the lycra ‘heroes’ that come speeding through from time to time.)
I have to admit, the beauty of wetlands comes and goes. In the height of summer they turn into unappealing pools full of sludge and mosquitoes. But in the cooler months they come to life; the water is high, the plants are green and the water birds are swanning about. (Pun intended!)
Baigup Wetlands in Maylands is definitely a winter winner, and if it you visit in the morning or late afternoon, it’s even better. The sunlight reflects off the pools and you’re bound to spot a dozen or so birds wading or poking around in the reeds. Apparently this wetland is home to over 70 species of birdlife, making it one of the most biodiverse wetlands in the Perth city area. Yay!
Tranby House/ Peninsula Farm.
So this isn’t exactly a natural point of interest but it’s still worth a look. Made from wattle and daub, Tranby House is one of oldest surviving homes from the Swan River Colony, which is what the first white settlers named Perth. If you’re visiting on a weekend you can take a look inside the two-story home (for a gold coin donation) and see how early settlers lived, and judging by the size doorways, how short they were.
The surprise city view between Adachi and Hardey Park.
While most of the river makes for easy riding, this is point that will test your lungs. Situated on the west side of the river, near Great Eastern Highway, this stretch of the path winds past shady trees, public jetties and then takes you up a sizeable hill alongside some apartments.
When you first reach the top it will seem like an anti climax – all you can see is a highway and some ugly industrial buildings. But turn and look behind you and you’re treated to a nicely framed view of the city skyline, Maylands riverfront and beyond. Now turn back to the front and smile because after that steep climb, the rest of the past is all downhill. Phew!
There isn’t an actual place called The Jetties. What I’m referring to is the assortment of small jetties you’ll find dotted along the edge of the river. Some are obvious, some are hidden amongst trees or at the small staircases. All are open and accessible to the public, so make an effort to stop, walk our and see how many jellyfish you can spot, look at the catches in fisherman’s buckets, or just stop and take in the view. The way I see it, if you’re exploring a river, you might as well get out onto the water.
So these are just a few of the nameable locations you’ll see along this expanse of the river. There’s plenty more, plus there’s the general sense of joy and wellbeing that comes from taking a bike ride on sunny morning or afternoon. Best of all, you’ll get wonderful feeling of knowing that you’re damn lucky to live in such a beautiful city.
So if you’re looking for some fresh air this weekend, maybe look a little closer to home and checkout your nearest riverfront. I’m keen to hear to what the other 60kms have in store!
You can start your ride at Garret Road, Windan Bridge or anywhere in between!
If you need somewhere to park, there’s a free carpark right next to Garrett Road Bridge, at the Bayswater Riverside Gardens at the end of Milne Street, Bayswater.
Or you can park at Banks Reserve, located on Joel Terrace, East Perth. This puts you about a minutes ride away from Windan Bridge, and is also a lovely picnic spot!