Bayswater Riverside Gardens is a magical place. Taking in the scenic views of the Swan River and listening to the chirping of native birds, it's hard to believe that the Perth CBD is only a mere eight kilometres away. Due to their river-side location and the abundance of large gumtrees and other vegetation, the Gardens are strongly reminiscent of the countryside: a beautiful spot to relax and commune with nature when the pace of urban life becomes too hectic.
Extending along the banks of the river, they feature landscaped parkland, dual purpose pathways for cyclists and walkers, playgrounds, picnic areas and plenty of wide, open spaces for active families and dog walkers. In addition, several places of interest are located close by such as Environment House, Ellis House, Halliday House, and the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary.
The Parklands Crossing the bridge over a small channel from the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary you enter the western part of Bayswater Riverside Gardens. Here, a network of walking and cycle tracks meander over lawns, interspersed with seats, delightful picnic spots and strategically placed outdoor exercise equipment. There are also a couple of attractive Federation style gazebos which offer some welcome shade on hot days, and a beautifully rustic wooden pavilion jutting into the river which is reached via a raised, gently curving boardwalk.
Rustic gazebo on the Swan River at Bayswater Riverside Gardens
This open parkland is terrific for sporting fun with family and friends, and there's heaps of room for a game of football or cricket. It's also a relaxed, friendly place where locals pause to chat with each other as they get some exercise, walk their dogs and watch the kids play. At any time of the day, little children on bikes, parents with prams and dog-walkers can be seen. Families with younger children are well provided for, and there are two playground areas: a larger one near the Leake Street carpark, which is enclosed with a child-proof fence and features a colourful assortment of slides, climbing equipment and other fun stuff, and a smaller one in the car-park just off Milne Street which has more old-fashioned swings and a slide.
Adventure playground at Bayswater Riverside Gardens
The Gardens are especially popular with dog-walkers in the late afternoon and dozens of pooches can be seen boisterously frollicking, much to the delight of observing children. For this reason, when my daughter was younger she dubbed the Gardens the 'doggie park', and we used to make regular family excursions there, specifically for the purpose of entertaining her with their canine antics.
Sporting Facilities Sport-lovers are also well catered for at Bayswater Riverside Gardens. Various paddle clubs maintain boatsheds there, close by the river, including Bayswater Sea Scouts, Bayswater Paddle-sports Club, Perth College Rowing and ANA Rowing. In addition, the gardens are a cyclists' paradise. For young children, the pathways provide a safe place where they can gain confidence on two wheels, while older cyclists of every level of proficiency will appreciate the fact that the gardens' cycle paths connect with longer routes in both directions along the river, enabling extended touring with wonderful views.
Situated in the eastern part of Bayswater Riverside Gardens, the Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary (named after local resident and bird enthusiast, Eric Singleton), is a beautiful tranquil spot with extensive wetlands surrounded by a walking and cycle path. Its well-shaded grounds have been planted with native trees and a small hide (hut) for bird-watching has been constructed overlooking the wetlands. The sanctuary attracts over 100 species of birds, while approximately 24 varieties use the area to breed and raise their young in the trees and various nesting boxes. Bird enthusiasts and prospective volunteers can receive more information by contacting 'Friends of the Sanctuary' on 9272 0662.
Bird-watching hide at Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary, Bayswater
Adjacent to the sanctuary, the Perth Environment House is a hub of activity which promotes to the public the many benefits of an environmentally sustainable lifestyle. The various community services that it offers include the provision of resources to help you create a greener household, information about water-wise gardening, and workshops related to earth-friendly living, including regular classes on food gardening for pre-schoolers. Environment House also has an Eco Shop on the premises which is open every Saturday from 10am until 4pm, and is a great place to pick up books about the environment and sustainable living, organic seeds, native seedlings, earth-friendly personal care products and much more. The Perth Environment House can be found at125 King William Street, Bayswater (at the river end).
Ellis House Historical Ellis House is located right next door to the western part of Bayswater Riverside Gardens, at 116 Milne Street, and is also a place of interest for culturally inclined weekend visitors. Built in 1919, it was originally the home of the Ellis family, who established the first dairy farm in the Bayswater area. After lying derelict for several years, it was restored to its original condition by the Bayswater Council in 1994 / 95 and now serves as a community arts centre, where regular exhibitions and workshops are held. On Thursday and Friday it is open from 10am to 4pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Artists of all levels and experience are welcome to come and spend some time here, as well as painting groups and curious members of the public.
On the first Sunday of each month, there is an artists' market held here, where local artists can display and sell their works to the general public. Since no fees or commission are charged, this provides a wonderful opportunity for local artisans to publicly exhibit their work and to supplement their income from any sales which are made. For visitors, these market days provide a rare opportunity to purchase original works of art at relatively affordable prices, thereby supporting local artists. In addition, on market days Devonshire teas are served in the gardens, creating yet another excuse to linger longer. For more information about Ellis House check out the Ellis House website.
Another place of historical interest is Halliday House, which is situated near the eastern part of the Bayswater Riverside Gardens, just across the road from Environment House, at 114 King William Street. This gracious old home was built in the 1890s by Thomas Halliday, the first chairman of Bayswater Roads, and now serves as a heritage centre and museum, containing historical photos, artefacts and other memorabilia from Bayswater's early days. Managed by the Bayswater Historical Society, it's open to the public on the fourth Sunday of every month between 1pm and 4pm. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bayswater Riverside Gardens is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing few hours or an entire day, at any time of the year. In addition to its regular attractions, mentioned above, it is also the finishing point for the popular annual Avon Descent white water race, and one of several venues for Perth's Autumn Festival. So do yourself a favour and pop around to Bayswater Riverside Gardens this weekend.