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Perth Water Historic Walk or Ride

Home > Perth > Dog Friendly | Outdoor | Photography | Walks
by Tom Zaunmayr (subscribe)
Getting lost is the easiest way to have fun!
Published November 11th 2013
Discover Perth's history on this casual stroll
The Foreshore surrounding Perth Water - the body of the Swan River in front of the CBD - has had a much more interesting history than many may realise. The two to four hour walk or ride around the river highlights the changing face of our picturesque 'river-lake' over the last century.

South Perth Foreshore
In a previous life - before the Narrows was built in the 60's - the South Perth foreshore was a hive of activity for the locals. White Sandy beaches stretched the length of the foreshore with crystal clear shallow waters holding an abundance of Blue Manna Crabs.

South, Perth, Foreshore, Lakes, City, photography, swan, river
The view from South Perth foreshore


Jetties stretched 50 - 100 metres out past the shallow shore and a large, sheltered bay sat where the Narrows overpass now meets the south side. Also noteworthy is the fact the paddle steamer on Mends Street jetty actually moved back then!

Today, the foreshore is lined with million dollar apartments and well manicured parks have taken over the sandy beaches. Walk and bike paths take you through Sir James Mitchell park and through the lakes up to McCallum park.

The trails are dotted with info boards outlining some of the history of the surrounding area, complete with pictures and local resident insights of the changing face of South Perth.

Heirisson Island
Heirisson Island is well known for it's resident Kangaroos, with a free walk giving anyone the chance to get up close to half of our national emblem. The island also has a rich European and Indigenous history.

Heirisson Island, Causeway, swan, river, perth, water, bridge, photography
This used to be mudflats, view from the Causeway


Heirisson Island was the farthest up river early Dutch explorer Willem De Vlamingh reached in 1697 and was later mapped by Frenchman Nicolas Baudins 1801 voyage on Le Naturaliste. It's worth noting that back in these days Heirisson island was attached to the South Perth foreshore by mudflats.

The Island is home to the Yagan statue - a prominent Aboriginal Noongar warrior around the time of European settlement in 1829.

City Foreshore
The Perth City foreshore has changed beyond recognition since early explorers first mapped the area. When James Stirling landed the CBD area was a series of interconnected freshwater lakes surrounded by thick marshes and mudflats.

Fraser, Point, swan, river, foreshore, indigenous, history, playground
Fraser Point is rich in indigenous history


In 1829 John Septimus Roe laid out the masterplan for the Swan River Colony, and by the 1860's land reclamation of Perth water had begun. Up until the mid 20th century the foreshore was lined with long jetties and boat building yards. Lang Park also used to be our airport while the Lucky Shag bar was the original shipping port.

The parks, Barrack Square, convention centre and Freeway all sit on land reclaimed as late as the 1960's. as you walk along the river banks you can still see old pylons just below the water that once held the buildings that drove WA's economy and settlement.

Burswood - Claisebrook
If you want to extend your walk it's worth going past Heirisson Island up to Burswood park. From here you can cross the Bunbury bridge and have a stroll though Claisebrook Cove - another area to go through several big transformations since settlement. This leg will take you approximately another hour by foot or 20 minutes by bike.

Perth, water, walk, ride, bicycle, bike, history, south, foreshore, river, swan
Perth water walk/ride trail
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Why? Excercise and discover Perth's history
When: All year
Where: Perth foreshore
Cost: Free
Your Comment
This is well written and was a lovely read. I will have a new look on the foreshore on my next walk.
by antho (score: 0|2) 713 days ago
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