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Published July 22nd 2019
Winter Splash - 6 Cool Perth Paddling Options
Winter can be a glorious opportunity for paddlers on Perth waters. Pick a windless and mild day on one of the city's many and varied waterways, and you have scope for a thoroughly enjoyable splash around
If cruising past the grand abodes of the rich list is your thing, slide into the water at Keane's Point Reserve. Peppermint Grove, deriving its name from the trees that grew prolifically here, is situated on this narrow slice of land between river and sea. Dubbed "Australia's Monaco" by a former Prime Minister, it is arguably Perth's most affluent suburb and a feast for the eyes.
Freshwater Bay - playground of the wealthy / Photo by Nathan Hurst on Unsplash
If a more nature-inspired trip is to your taste, set out from Riverton Bridge Park and head upriver. Amongst woodlands of sheoak, eucalyptus and paperbark trees, suburbia feels a world away. Pelicans, black swans and a variety of other birdlife inhabit this area and sit largely unruffled as you sweep past. Lo Quay River Café is just over the bridge, where you can top the morning off in an open-air setting with a coffee and cake.
Pelicans abound in the estuarine environment / Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
On the outskirts of the city, the river narrows and winds its way through the historic region of Guildford and the Swan Valley. In past years a grape growing and vigneron region, it is also now home to many microbreweries and top-notch restaurants and cafes.
Starting from Fish Market Reserve, a cute little residential corner of Guildford, paddle north past the green belt of flood plain reserves. Once under West Swan Road Bridge, St Charles Seminary sits perched on the left bank, looking across to Lilac Hill Park. Further on is your opportunity to rest the arms and climb the steps to grand Woodbridge House, completed in 1885. The residence is now managed by the National Trust and provides a fascinating glimpse into the area's history. Alongside is Riverside at Woodbridge café, a delightful rustic venue with a Devonshire Tea to die for.
How much further you paddle is entirely dependent on your energy levels. There's still plenty of flat water and enticing views well north of this point. On the plus side, if there has been plenty of rain and the water is moving at a cracking pace, the homeward journey can be somewhat quicker than the upriver one.
What's better than scones and cream with a cuppa in winter / Photo by Alysa Tarrant on Unsplash
Looking for another opportunity to mix fitness and food? Starting at Mardalup Park, paddle the short distance downriver and enjoy a front-row seat of Perth's pretty skyline, vibrant Elizabeth Quay and the stunning Matagarup Bridge. On the return route, take a left into Claisebrook Cove. Don't try exiting your kayak right in front of the venue ( yes, it's been tried). Tempting though it might be, it's quite a height and likely to end embarrassingly. Beach your craft instead just inside the Cove on the left and wander down to The Royal to fuel up on delicious coffee and some takeaway pizza.
Pretty Perth and its many attractions / Photo by Josh Spires | @drone_nr on Unsplash
Prefer the ocean over the river? Launching at Mullaloo Beach rarely requires expert skill, being renowned for its family-friendly and relatively calm conditions. Located north of Ocean Reef Marina, it's a fair distance to get there but a multitude of eateries is well worth the effort. Why not make a full day of it? Stop for a lengthy lunch and relaxation before heading north again.
For a taste of salt, hit Mullaloo Beach and head out through the waves / Photo by Lucie Marchant on Unsplash
Want to avoid breaking out in a sweat. A ferry makes the regular five-minute crossing to this tiny dot of an island, which is, quite literally, within walking distance of the mainland. You can "walk the sand bar" at low tide; however, diligent care and accurate timing are imperative due to recent drownings.
On a calm day, it is a doddle paddling over the submerged sandbar where dolphins often play. Check out the world's smallest penguins that have made their colony here, before taking a walk "to the wild side", up and over the boardwalk to the opposite sea-facing shore. You may even see rare Australian sea lions basking in the sun away from the more populated eastern shore. Do be aware that going ashore is prohibited for part of the year during breeding season. You are still free, however, to enjoy the waters surrounding the island.
See the tiniest penguins in the world at Penguin Island / By I, Scoreed, CC BY 2.5,https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2442151
If you crave a more exhilarating paddle experience, Perth also has the goods. Pick another day and another location to give yourself a ready-made training session for an elite athlete to embrace.
Yet for an experience that leaves you relaxed, peaceful and rejuvenates the soul, look no further than a tranquil winter's day. Whatever your passions, be it pretty suburbs, glorious nature, warming food or salty air, there is a paddle for everyone. Choosing which delightful destination will likely be the hardest decision of the day.