Narrows Bridge to Mosman Bay - Cities of Perth, Subiaco, Nedlands etc.

Cities of Perth, Subiaco and Nedlands, Town of Claremont, Shire of Peppermint Grove, Department of Environment and Conservation

The stretch of river from the Perth CBD to UWA is a tremendously popular commuter and recreation route.

Matilda Bay, with its lawns, trees, gazebos and views to the city over Royal Perth Yacht Club is a beautiful spot to while away a few hours in or out of the sun. The journey down to Tawarri Reception Centre through sporting fields and into suburban Nedlands and Dalkeith is interesting enough.

What lets this ride down is lousy paths through what are so often gushingly described as "Perth's premier suburbs". The Premier may live one of them but he evidently doesn't ride a bike. If you're planning to take your kids for a ride you can forget the northern Riverside Drive section, it simply comes too close for comfort to four lanes of fast moving traffic. Once you enter the City of Subiaco, DEC managed Matilda Bay Reserve the path standard takes a bit of a dive. The rest of the facilities are fantastic though; along with the usual free barbecues, there are the Matilda Bay Tearooms for casual meals, coffees and ice-creams as well as the high end Matilda Bay Restaurant. The once infamous Crawley toilets are now supplemented by a second set of toilets housed in a building that parades it's architectural street cred in an obvious position - you'll be forgiven for imagining that you're looking at the tearooms as you approach!

Once across Australia II Drive the paths head south, literally and metaphorically. They're awkwardly narrow and meandering and determinedly free of any directional signage. If you're prepared to ride on the road you can avoid this whole catastrophe by using the on-road lane that follows busy Hackett Drive from Mounts Bay Road round to The Avenue. Things will be faster smoother and less confusing, but also further from the river.

Either way, unless you're on a training mission you'll want to aim for The Esplanade which means taking your first left once you're on The Avenue. Turn right onto The Esplanade or gothrough the carpark and turn right on the narrow riverside path. Follow The Esplanade to one of two paths that lead up to Birdwood Parade. The first is just at the north corner of Flying Squadron Yacht Club, the second is off the Tawarri car park. These two can be ridden up, the first is less steep than the second. You can stick to the river for another very pleasant kilometer but you'll have to lug your bike up about 30 steps to Iris Avenue which takes you onto Jutland Parade.

Birdwood Parade is quiet and wide. Elevated views across Melville Water to the south are paired with views of exclusive real estate to the north. The point at which Birdwood turns into Jutland Pde is marked by Sunset Hospital heritage site which, aside from its recent use as the set for the filming of the Tim Winton's story Cloudstreet, has stood empty since 1995.

At the western end of Jutland Pde is Point Resolution Reserve, a fine a place as any to watch an afternoon yacht race. Facilities are limited here. As in there's a car park. And some steps to the river.

This section of Perth's main round the river ride is marked by an almost total absence of cycling infrastructure. It's all fine if you're an experienced rider used to mixing it with traffic, the following advice is for casual recreation riders.

The on-road painted cycle lane that follows Victoria Ave as it winds it's way around the north side of Freshwater Bay is as good as it gets. And even that ain't real good; it only operates as a cycle lane for a couple of hours a day on weekdays. The rest of the time it's primary purpose is car park. The signage governing this Clayton's bike path is thin on the ground and inconsistent between Claremont and Dalkeith. Enforcement seems limited to the narrow stretch west of Bayview Terrace.

Footpaths through this area are narrow and can be bumpy and gappy.

The on-road bike lane conks out just where you need it; the road becomes busier as you approach Stirling Highway on Queenslea Drive. An option here is to cross just after the Claremont Yacht Club driveway and get to the highway on the very quiet Freshwater Parade.

Having said that, weekend traffic on this section is generally pretty light. Of course it's a different story once you hit Stirling Highway. There's a good section of footpath up past Christ Church Grammar and Methodist Ladies College. Then you'll be negotiating the pavers again, only for a couple of blocks though; you should take a left up Richardson Avenue. Following Richardson will take you round "Devils Elbow" and on to The Esplanade. Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club is at the bottom of the hill. The nice people at the bar there will sell you a beer, which when consumed overlooking the bay from the RFBYC hilltop will conspire to give you a feeling of wellbeing. If you don't fancy imbibing the nice people at the nearby Kiosk will sell you an ice-cream or any manner of basic café fare. There are also free barbecues, a playground and public toilets here.   

Getting there by bike is easy and there are plenty of options; from points north the cycle path that runs through the city adjacent to Parliament House drops you at the Narrows. From points east you'll want to get yourself onto the Riverside Drive path west of Barrack St Jetty. If you're starting at Mosman Bay the best access is via the riverside roads and paths from North Freo. The alternative is to come in from the coast or Curtin Avenue, just aim for Mosman Park Station and follow the directions below.

By car from the northern end is a bit trickier. Parking at Barrack St Jetty is hard to jag and time limited. Access from The Old Swan Brewery carpark across Mounts Bay Road involves using two lifts. Matilda Bay parking is again time limited and its popularity and proximity to the University of WA mean it's often very busy. You may fare better starting this ride from street parking in Claremont, one of the river reserves between there and Resolution, or if you're contemplating a cycle path only ride, park at Tawarri and head back toward the city. 

Train access from the Perth end is good, just organise yourself to get off at Esplanade Station, the river is a hop skip and a jump away to the south. At the western end, Claremont Station is the closest to the river; Bayview Terrace is is on the south side of the station and runs straight down to the River and Victoria Avenue. Mosman Park Station is the closest to this ride's end at Keanes Point. Cross Stirling Highway at the Glyde St lights and head one block head north up the footpath to Stuart St, turn right onto Stuart, 1st left on Monument, 1st right on Willis, left on Harvey, right on Swan, go to the end of Swan and then left on Palmerston and right on Johnstone St. It's the flattest, quietest route to or from the end point.

Get it together - Three Bridges Loop ~ 43 km

Hey, welcome to Perth... sometime within living memory we copped a tag - Dullsville. For aged crones like me this seemed a boon for the boomtown, it held the promise of a few more years living in blissful obscurity (I've been thinking of moving to Lake Grace if things get much busier). Even a hardened poetry reading addict like me will confess that if you measure our indoor culture; the visual and performing arts, food and nightlife, using the same criteria as larger less isolated urban centres like say, New York, Sydney or Timbuktu, Perth can look a little light on. 

This misses Perth's point though, to wit, get out of doors. Beaches are regarded by many as our strong suite, but that idea falls to pieces sometime between 10AM and 2PM when the "Doctor" comes tearing in. The Fremantle Doctor is Perth's Mistral. Except less delicate; exfoliation doesn't begin to describe the blast you'll get.

Riverside is where you'll want to be. It's a wide river, but it isn't deep; you can wander about in much of the Swan without getting your elbows wet. Who cares though? You're probably not thinking of swimming in it and the sailors look just as good bobbing round in the deeper bits as they do when they've run aground. One of Perth's flasher boating locales is Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club and that is where this ride begins. Taking a leaf from DPI's safety first book these round the bridges rides all go clockwise to minimise risky right turns, feel free to ride upstream from the club rather than down.

If you live within coo-ee of the river downstream from Perth this ride is a must. It takes in some of Perth's best river views, a ton of parks (everything from swathes of sun drenched lawn to winding bush paths), great playgrounds, a swag of pubs, coffee shops, kiosks and restaurants.

For the south of the river sections you can choose between mostly very good bike path or quiet on-road riding all the way from Fremantle Traffic Bridge to Canning Bridge. From Canning Bridge to the city it's bike path only. The bike path is good, if busy. 

North of the river from the city back to Freo is spotty. Sticking to the paths can get you in a bit of a muddle especially as you ride through the City of Nedlands. Sticking to the roads can put you close to some fast moving traffic, particularly from the Narrows Bridge to UWA.

Most of the ride is follow your nose stuff, but there are a few options in the Fremantle to Point Walter and the Narrows to Mosman Bay sections. The other sections are detailed here; Mosman to Freo, Pt Walter to Canning Br and Canning Br to Narrows.

By bike, just ride in from home. If you don't live close enough you can find carparks with easy parking at or near Tawarri Reception Centre in Nedlands, Point Resolution Reserve, Dalkeith, McCabe St Mosman Park (by the tennis courts), East St Jetty and Point Walter. You can also park at these though they can get pretty busy in warmer weather; Matilda Bay, Keanes Point, Bay View Terrace, Minim Cove, East Fremantle by Zephyr Café, Barrack St Jetty and the Old Swan Brewery. The easiest train access is Claremont, Mosman Park, Victoria St, North Fremantle and Fremantle on the Fremantle Line. Take the Mandurah Line for Esplanade and Canning Bridge Stations.

Two Bikely maps here;

The first is an on-road training circuit. It has a couple of short stretches that expose the cyclist to heavy traffic on Stirling and Canning Highways. And it's on shared paths between Canning Bridge and UWA, because it's illegal to cycle on the freeway and unless it's quiet it's crazy to ride on the de facto freeway that is Mounts Bay Road. 

The second takes the path option wherever it is available. Sadly the The Shire of Nedlands and the Towns of Claremont and Peppermint Grove planners have not seen fit to provide separated paths through much of their patch. You'll be obliged to ride on the road or footpath for several kilometres between the eastern end of Jutland Pde and Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club. Where there is a choice between two paths, this route takes you on the one closer to the river. Where there isn't a path this route follows the road in preference to the footpath.

Canning Bridge to Narrows Bridge - City of South Perth

The watchword with this ride is weather. When the wind whistles in from the west the exposure of this path to the river is radical. Dear rider, on a quiet day, meteorologically speaking, your ears will be assaulted by the traffic from the freeway and, as you approach the ski zone near the Narrows, motorised pleasure craft on the Swan.

Other than that it's not a bad ride. It's flat as a tack and with the wind at their back any commuter with a computer could easily see their personal best speed along this straight well surfaced stretch.

If you're planning the biggest and best round the river ride that Perth has to offer, this path will form a part of it. If you're commuting direct to the CBD from south of the city, you will ride this rail.

Access by bike from Narrows Bridge or Canning Bridge PSPs as well as from five pedestrian overpasses at Hardy St, Comer St, Preston St, Thelma St and Cale St.

Karrakatta PSP - High Art or High Desert? - City of Nedlands

High art

Public art is a contentious issue for local government authorities at the best of times. The City of Nedlands has has managed the design and commissioning of its most recent installation very carefully and the result is a powerful piece laced with meaning. It is at once massive and expensive and yet it recedes in the urban landscape revealing itself to only the most rigorous scrutiny.

 

The work is the largest and most expensive public artwork in Western Australia brought to fruition in some years. That it was not without it problems should not be overlooked, however the City of Nedlands are to be congratulated for their singleminded pursuit of what is surely destined to become a cultural icon.

 

The piece itself masquerades as infrastructure, 360 metres of shared pedestrian and cycle path, flanked by, and floating above, the a pair of unusually curvaceous roundabouts. From the air they could be hips or breasts, the railway line forming a backbone. The path viewed from this Godly angle can only represent a severe inflammation of the spineless. And that is not where the Godliness of this magnificent piece ends. Its proximity to the dead centre of Perth, its altar-like aspect aloof from traffic, its inaccessibility underline a deeper message. 

At street level it is surprisingly understated. It is rare that its pristine tarmac is sullied by the foot or cycle traffic that it pretends to serve. The secret is not in securing the work by ordinary means such as fences but simply by making the course too short and isolated for it to be of any use or interest to the public.

 

The depth of the artwork is stunning. The artists have stopped at nothing to ensure that its incorporation into the day to day life of the city is complete. It is a rare public art installation that is not neatly encapsulated within its own tidy world, be it a public lawn, the centre of a roundabout, the pea gravel forecourt of the council offices. Karrakatta PSP unashamedly explodes these polite social mores. Work is seemingly never complete around the piece; the on-road cycle lane is removed one month, cycle lane ends signs are posted another. Curious diversions are set up round the Irwin Barracks entrance. Most intriguing is a pile of mullock and rubble left by a storm drain for months on end. While other works have ceased for the interim this pile of crud creates a ghostly air of expectancy and serves to remind the viewer nothing is ever complete.

 

The illusion extends from the infrastructure, if you will, to verbal and written exchanges with the council. Any enquiry made to the Artists at the City of Nedlands is met with Kafka-esque responses in writing on the City’s letterhead. Denial of simple measurable facts and mysterious “replies” to what appear to be unrelated correspondence rapidly create a maddenly delicious and elaborate tangle of bureaucratic irony. There is poetry in witnessing a master of their craft at work. To involve and engage and, even frustrate, the interested viewer in the (ongoing) creation of a significant work is nothing short of genius.

High desert

 

The high desert is an environment of extremes: it is the driest and hottest place on earth. Strong winds of incompetence drive all but the bravest of souls back. On the rare occasions that they subside the careful listener may hear the periodic sigh characteristic of an expiring political career.

Few animal species are found in Nedland’s high desert environment. While the Karrakatta PSP Notional Park has a good profile of extinct individuals, evidence of life up here is confined to snakes in the grass. Occasionally lost council workers or cyclists are found in wandering some parts of the high desert. No sightings of whitus collari staffenati or councilloramus have ever been made in the area.

This area, once a safe corridor for the cyclist is now dominated by urgent motor traffic.

Goodwood Parade to Garvey Park - City of Belmont

“City of Opportunity”(!) a couple of constructivist silhouettes optimistically proclaim at points around Belmont and its subsidiary suburbs. This mostly flat 8k ride is actually a pretty good advertisement for the best that Belmont has to offer while neatly managing to avoid the worst. 

 

The best of it should be obvious from even a disdainfully fleeting glance at the map; it follows the mid reaches of the Swan River as it wanders aimlessly across the flat of the coastal plain. The path ducks in close to the river now, then briefly climbs up and back for a cinematic panorama. 

 

Marvel at the way invasive bamboo has taken a chokehold here. Be enchanted by habitat restoration underway there. A patch of remnant native bush opens to reveal pretty jetty that is a wedding photographer’s dream.

 

This part of the river is close and sheltered making it a favourite haunt of rowing teams in training. I deduce from the presence of fisherfolk in dinghies and on shore there must be the odd fish of size still left poking about. At the upstream end round where Redcliffe Bridge crosses you may spot some rather larger critters bobbing about in the drink; Belmont is home to Ascot Racecourse. A good two thirds of this ride is in Ascot, the suburb, and Ascot, the suburb, has a higher population density of the genus equus than is usual in the Perth metro area. 


The path is dotted with interesting oddments of local history. The most dramatic are the old brick kilns and their associated chimneys south of the racecourse. In a brickie sort of vein there’s also Bristile Park which once was home to display panels of roof tiles. A cute gnome size brick house remains. Unoccupied it seems. 


The path for the length of the ride is mostly concrete or tarmac in good condition. A stretch of narrow boardwalk at the south end of Garvey Park provides comic relief. The few hundred metres of street riding to the east of Ascot Racecourse is well enough sorted with a good on road painted lane. Motor traffic here is light and accustomed to frequent horses and riders so it’s about as safe as street riding gets.

 

The only real drama is crossing Grandstand Road between Ascot Waters and the racecourse. Cyclists are let down badly by signage here. For those on a meandery sort of a day, blunder your way through Ascot Waters admiring the ghostly Stepford perfection of it all and cross to the north of the junction of Waterway Cr and Grandstand.

 

Once on the northeast side head northwest on the footpath toward Garrett Road Bridge. The cycle path heads east around the north side of the racecourse just south of the bridge. Travelers coming from Garvey Park should cross Grandstand as soon as possible and either go through Ascot Waters or down the footpath on Grandstand.


If you’re looking for a shorter ride simply turn back when you reach Grandstand Road from either direction; you’ve come about half way along anyway.

 

Weekday mornings and evenings, the southern half of it particularly, (from Ascot Racecourse to Goodwood Pde) is a commuter run. There are some sharpish and blindish corners so it pays to be somewhat less than witless on this stretch at these times. It’s a great out and back ride manageable by just about anybody owing to its mostly flat nature. There are a couple of short steep parts half way between Hardey Park and Cracknell Park.


If cycling picnics are your bag you're in for a treat! There are free barbecue facilities at Adachi Park, Gould Reserve (at the end of Epsom Ave) and Garvey Park. Garvey Park is huge and shady (lots of dog walkers though). It’s the home of the Ascot Kayak Club and also a jolly good kiosk which is open 5 days from 8 am. There are toilets at the boat-ramp, Adachi Park, The Esplanade and Garvey Park, though the day I rode the only one that had any loo paper was at Garvey Park - you have been warned!

Start Points are easy peasy

Western end


By bike (yes!), you can come at the downstream end from the city via Windan Bridge (Graham Farmer Freeway) or from points south o’ river from Burswood or through Lathlain (cross the freeway at Riversdale Rd)


Closest train stations are Belmont Park (not all trains stop there though), Claisebrook on the  city side or Burswood.


By car, take the Victoria Park Drive exit from either direction on the Graham Farmer Freeway, stay on or head to the east side of the freeway and park at the Goodwood Pde boat-ramp. Which, by quirk of history and urban renewal, is actually on Balbuk Way not Goodwood Pde.


Eastern end

There’s a bike path from Guildford that comes down Fauntleroy Ave.


Car access is Fautleroy Ave with plenty of parking at Garvey Park.


Trains run rather inconveniently on the other side of the river.

 

Bikely Map Link