I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published March 1st 2022
Explore one of Perth's best-kept secrets
Meandering through Perth and its surrounds like a glistening silver thread, the Swan River is an integral part of our local geography. While the urban landscape the river traverses on its journey to the ocean is much different now from that which its Noongar custodians were familiar with for thousands of years, here and there, patches of natural vegetation remain or have been restored – providing us with a precious insight into the way it used to be.
Tucked away in a quiet part of the Swan River, across a narrow bridge from Ascot, Kuljak Island is one such place. A tranquil oasis, treasured by nature enthusiasts, it's hard to believe that the island is artificial - only created in 1997, in conjunction with the Ascot Waters development. After being utilised as a council rubbish dump for many years, two channels were dredged on either side, thus transforming the area into an island.
These days, Kuljak Island has been rehabilitated to form an expanse of picturesque parklands, planted with endemic vegetation and teeming with native birdlife. Although the island is no Rottnest, it offers nature-lovers a very special experience, just twenty minutes from downtown Perth.
A two-and-a-half-kilometre path encircles the island, making it a terrific destination for early-morning walkers and cyclists. The fact that cars can't drive beyond a certain point enhances its appeal as a family destination, and the path is ideal for very young children to safely ride their scooters and bikes, and to run and play. For the same reason, it's also a top spot for people who require a wheelchair or other mobility aid.
The island's interior is mainly grassy parklands, providing loads of space for active visitors to enjoy sporting activities. Several picnic shelters are scattered around the island as well, with lovely views over the river.
Surrounded by the Swan River, Kuljak Island is also a great base for adventurous kayakers and canoeing enthusiasts. There are plenty of convenient launching places on the island, as well as at nearby reserves in Bayswater, Maylands or Belmont.
In a nutshell, Kuljak Island is a wonderful spot for a family outing. However, the fact that it's relatively undeveloped has its pros and cons. While the island lacks the crowds of larger, more well-known beauty spots, the downside is that it doesn't possess some of the basic infrastructure we tend to expect at our local nature reserves and green spaces. For example, the fact that there are no public toilets will be a major drawback for some potential visitors. Despite this, Kuljak Island is one of Perth's loveliest secrets – one that is well worth several hours of exploration on a lazy weekend.
Kuljak Island is just a twenty-minute drive from downtown Perth. You can reach the island by following Tidewater Way in Ascot and crossing a small bridge - the parking area is on the left-hand side of the road. A pedestrian bridge can also be found at the end of nearby Samphire Street.