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Published February 16th 2018
The upgraded foreshore brings heaps of great activities
You can still spend idyllic holidays swimming, crabbing and boating, but Mandurah is no longer a sleepy little fishing village. In just over a decade Mandurah has transformed into a major regional city. It is now almost joined at the hip to Perth (being only 18 km south of Rockingham) and the quick train services makes it a popular day trip or weekend getaway.
But many people have not yet reacquainted themselves with all this amazing region now offers. One particularly enticing addition is the upgraded Mandurah Foreshore with its waterside park with shady trees, play areas and wide lawns. These are perfect for games, picnics or family 'fish n'chips'.
The swimming pontoon at the Keith Holmes Children's Beach. Image Source City of Mandurah Facebook
There is a network of waterfront pathways, to stroll along but these are thoughtfully wide enough to accommodate prams and wheelchairs.
These connect and basically take you from Stingray Point, where you will find impressive The Sebel Mandurah, then along the edge of Mandjar Bay with all its exciting cafes and restaurants, and then along the Eastern Foreshore.
There are also a number of tours that leave from this waterfront area and each offers a different vantage point on how to experience the area.
Mandjoogoordap Dreaming Tour
I am so glad I did George Walley's tour before being totally seduced by all the changes to Mandurah. I felt the Mandjoogoordap Dreaming Tour gave Mandurah a historical and spiritual anchor.
George Walley taking a walking tour around Mandurah's Eastern Foreshore - Source Mandurah Dreaming Facebook
George Walley takes his tour groups on a gentle walk along the foreshore stopping here and there to talk about the Bindjareb people of the Noongar Nation. He chats about the medicinal and cultural uses of the native plants and of the rich traditions that connect the people, the spirit and the land.
With a large group he sometimes encourages them to collect piles of fallen 'honky nuts' and then lay them on the ground in a continuous line. Then holding up just one of these small seedpods between his fingers he tells how this represents two hundred years of European history in Australia. The long row of nuts on the ground symbolises the 40,000 year timeline of known history prior to European settlement.
This visual representation helps visitors see modern Mandurah through George's eyes and it is an enriching experience.
The name Mandurah is taken from the word Mandjoogoordap and translates as 'meeting place of the heart.'
As we wandered we saw many happy families and groups of friends out taking in the sunshine and water views, fishing or simply relaxing. George described how the area and such traditions of enjoyment as well as food gathering are a continuation of what had gone before in this meeting place.
The Eastern Foreshore is a wonderful place to relax with lots of trees, grass and walking paths. Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
As George is a trained primary school teacher this tour would be a perfect introduction for children to the rich layers of history in the area. It is also an authentic experience for overseas tourists and an eye-opener for locals in finding out so much more about their own area.
Many, for example, may not have visited the adjacent Christ's Church Anglican Churchyard to see the grave of Yaburgurt (George Winjan elder 1824-1915) a Noongar leader. He was a survivor of the Pinjarra massacre in 1834, where both his mother and brother were killed.
George Walley sensitively places the past within an ever-evolving continuum of history. If there was one word I will remember from his tour it is 'respect.' Respect for elders, respect for the past and the environment as well as consideration for the future. As you learn on this tour 'every generation has a story here.'
The Mandjoogoordap Dreaming Tour Walking Tour lasts for 1.5 hours and runs on demand Friday, Saturday and on & Sundays 10.30am - 12.00pm.
$35.00 Adults / $15.00 Children (10% discount for group bookings of 5 or more people). For bookings call 0408 952 740 or message through Facebook.
Getting ready for Crabfest fun On 17 and 18 March 2018. Image Mandurah Dreaming Tours Facebook
But it is just one of many tours the company runs and whether on foot, boat or small bus they all start and finish at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre which is a short walk from Mandurah along the foreshore. The full list of tours can be accessed here.
Below is a short clip of the Thrombolites (Woggaal's Noorook) tour as I think it shows how beautifully George interacts with children and adults in explaining the past.
Mandurah Cruises Dolphin and Scenic Canal Cruise.
These cruises have operated for a number of years. But if you have not been on one for a while it will alert you to the many breathtaking new features in the area.
The launch point is just outside the Mandurah Arts Centre. We set sail on the Dancing Dolphin a two-storey catamaran with tables and a licensed bar downstairs and I was lucky to gain a seat on the open-air upper deck as this had elevated views.
Daryl our captain was informative with just the right sprinkling of 'Dad jokes' to keep the commentary lively. Seeing the area through his eyes was yet another unique take on Mandurah. He spoke of the old Peninsula Hotel where bands such as INXS and Midnight Oil once played and of the century old lobster industry. He also gave an excellent overview of the Mandurah War Memorial that is a striking design that captures the axis of the sun on ANZAC Day.
We swept past Kings Carnival, one of the oldest amusement sites in WA, and the newer and much photographed Venetian Canals.
Stopping to pick up pre-ordered fish and chips. Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
While the dolphins love to come and frolic in the waves made by the boat and are regularly sighted they decided to play hidey on this day. But, I still thoroughly enjoyed the cruise with all the jaw-dropping views of luxury homes and for being able to get so close to the world-renowned Creery Wetlands, part of the Ramsar listed Peel Yalgorup Wetland's system and home to thousands of migratory birds.
Some of the luxury homes on this tour is an eye-opener. Photo: Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
Again this company does a number of tours. As the Mandurah Crabfest is coming up you might want to try their Crabbing Tour where you get to net Mandurah's famous blue swimmer crabs in the Peel Inlet as well as go 'scooping' in the shallows at Boundary Island. Your bounty is then cooked for you.
They also offer a cray fishing experience where you cruise into the Indian Ocean and help haul up pots of crayfish before returning to shore where the crew cook up a buffet lunch centred around fresh seafood.
For prices on all these tours including the dolphin tour click here.
Segway Ocean Marina Tours
I have written a separate piece about these novel tours, which you can access here. They also leave from the foreshore area. You receive instruction on how to ride a segway and then practise on the grassed area.
Once proficient you follow your instructor in a single file and are soon swishing and gliding on the paths alongside Mandurah's stunning waterways. Over bridges you go and along piazzas and boardwalks, with people in awe as your breeze past.
The Segway tour is available for those aged 12 and over. Only small groups are taken so this would be an ideal family activity.
Ocean Marina Tour - Mandurah (1.25hr) $89p/person, Children (12-17) $79, Seniors $79, (2 adults 2 children $75p/person). For bookings click here.
Marina Art Trail
Get your sneakers on, as this self-guided art trail will take you on a journey along Venetian Canals and the Ocean Marina to discover inspiring public works of art.
The 4.5 kilometre return walk meanders alongside Mandurah's spectacular waterways. I have to admit to not completing it all as I was running short on time, having done all of the other tours within a 36 hour time period. There is just so much to do in Mandurah.
But the stretch I did take in was wonderful and showcased Mandurah as a vibrant 'City of the Arts.' A number of the artworks also related back to the Mandjoogoordap Dreaming Tour I had taken with George Walley such as the stained glass window (Artist: Cottage Leadlighting) depicting the Wagyl (Rainbow Serpent) guarding the area's sacred landscapes and the Bonu-Wongie- Message Stick (artist: John Kelly & Coral Lowry) of two outstretched hand holding a message stick.
Bonu-Wongie (Message Stick) Artist:John Kelly & Coral Lowry - Source: Facebook City of Mandurah
The walk also takes in the large War Memorial structures spotted from on-board the 'Dancing Dolphin' and a number of contemporary urban murals.
If you wish you can follow the map into the City Centre so you can full experience yet another side of Mandurah.
Recommended Stopping off Points
If interested in art and architecture don't miss the Alcoa Mandurah Art Gallery, Mandurah Performing Arts Centre (near The Sebel Hotel). The $16m project featured in The International Architecture Year Book No 5 that showcases the best public buildings in the world.
The 3 Hearts Ceramics & Café continues the art theme as here kids and adults can paint their own ceramics and even have them fired, the most fun that can be had over a coffee or a cooling drink.
White on white the very relaxing 3 Hearts Ceramics & Cafe- iPhone photo Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
And try and squeeze in a meal or sunset drinks at the Redmanna Waterfront Restaurant that specialises in local seafood and also offers great waterside views. Click here for a review of this award-winning restaurant.