The longer Windan Bridge Loop, East of Perth City
This 15 kilometre or thereabouts bike ride begins under the shadow of an old disused power station in East Perth before turning into a splendid urban meander alongside the Swan River through nature reserves and wetlands, under the canopy of trees utilising paths for bike and pedestrian users. The route is relatively flat and definitely affords more enjoyment of the surroundings. While we cycle this route, you can walk or run too and if you keep left other cyclists will go around you.
We set off along a narrow path through Banks Reserve where we join the Tony di Scerni pathway, named after founding chairman of the Banks Reserve Precinct Group. The area’s native growth is probably due to some forward thinking of the local community back in 2000 when 1,500 individual native plants and shrubs were planted. This would be a cooler area to cycle in the hot summer months but in winter, right now, it’s a nice retreat from the wind.
The scene constantly changes as we keep moving towards a blue sky.
The path continues along the perimeter of the Mayland’s Peninsula Public Golf Course which appears to have a fully licensed cafe for breakfast right through to dinner. This could extend the bike ride, however we’ve only just eaten so we continue pedalling. We pass an unusual building with a kiln, the former brick works company and the first of several historical references along the route, though I don’t think I captured them all today.
Most of the ride has been with the cover from small bushland sections and shielded from the wind, this takes the effort out of the ride making it more enjoyable. Then, we pass behind the WA Police stables and I wonder how Lewis is going. ‘Who is Lewis’ you might say? Well, he is the stables cat who was once on the payroll of the state government for vermin control and possibly ancillary furry cuddles. The funding for Lewis was eventually cut off and I think staff took ownership of him.
Leaving the river for a while and straight into more history as we pass large statues depicting a hunt.
After a boat yard we take a small path that fringes quite close to the backyards of several residencies who happen to be living across from what was once, one of the first farms of the European settlement dating back to 1839. We cycle behind Peninsula Tea Gardens, offering an alfresco cafe setting that takes full advantage of the elevated views of the Swan River. At the moment High Tea partakers can bring along their own champagne with complimentary corkage, again, we pass today but a great idea for next time.
A note worthy old character charm exists along the foreshore in Maylands, even down to wood fences and some very old trees. It’s a really pleasant setting to be cycling through.
The path joins Swan View Terrace before it reappears again between houses, only to grandly descend into Baigup wetlands, a small reserve where a swamp paperbark woodland shelters native wildlife which we appreciate and observe on a path that cuts straight through.
More information about the wetlands can be found on the Urban Bushland Council website and Bird Life Australia run the occasional bird watch excursion to the area.
We cycle under Garratt Road bridge and leaving the Swan River once more, we make a left up a small hill hooking it left again onto a path that allows us to safely ride the bridge without having to use the road. We pass alongside Ascot Race Course and at the roundabout we cross Grandstand Road into the suburb of Ascot Waters. Here we see a bike friendly marker on the footpath. We cut through the suburb of Ascot which is a small neighbourhood of 3.7m2 including the racecourse and a marina that appears to be mostly utilised by the locals living nearby.
On previous bike rides we have explored the parkland in Ascot Waters including Kuljak Island and the heritage listed kiln site.
We lose the footpath marker but a quick consult of google maps and we meander through several neighbourhood streets to the Board Walk where we are now officially on the other side of the river.
Great Eastern Highway is a short distance away and yet all the same you would never know! One of the biggest surprises was discovering the existence of a path in this area, it’s a little bumpy and narrow but great fun. The only real hill stands at only 93 metres, it’s roughly a gradual 16 metre climb to a lookout of Perth’s skyscrapers in the background.
The obstructed view away from the city of tall trees growing up the slope is my favourite though.
What must go up, must come down and it is a good roll down. We’ve taken the mountain bikes on this route and had a lot of fun on this side of the river.
While it may be a winter’s day and better to be inside sitting cosy next to the heater, I have to say the river is beautifully serene and we experience hardly any people on the path. Luckily no rain has eventuated for us. I’m keeping warm with a thermal long sleeve top, fleece top and wind jacket but still wearing my favourite Pilbara shorts.
The path descends further through a concealed and cool temperature forest, now this would be a great ride in the hot summer months. Recently another city council, Cottesloe was considering proposals for a bike path which would result in the substantial loss of trees. I posted the below photo on my Instagram account out of genuine frustration to highlight the lack of forward thinking and how other Perth councils can successfully manage paths through trees. Having lived in the Pilbara I often found it cooler cycling on dirt trails than on the concrete ones here in Perth which might suggest a bit of the heat island effect. It is obviously not be viable having dirt paths in the city, but it’s certainly not impossible to try and retain some nature in the city, particularly shade and protection from the sun in a country like Australia I would have thought is pretty important? Anyway my rant ends here and the bike ride continues below.
Following Cracknall Park the urban life jolts out, the Graham Farmer Freeway appears and the new Optus Stadium on the other side of the traffic lights, where another path leads to South Perth foreshore but not before passing the supremely appointed Crowne Towers.
We take Windan Bridge underpass which carries the Graham Farmer Freeway above, it’s always fun cycling an underpass. This bridge is extra safe because the railings were raised almost 20 cm to protect cyclists using the walkway, if they were to collide with pedestrians and topple over. I can’t see this happening but hey you just never know!
An option exists here to continue the ride through South Perth, and in that case don’t take the underpass and instead go right and down the path towards the river under the two bridges. Or you could cycle the classic Windan Bridge Loop, check out the blog of Bloke on Bike
For us we return to Perth city in search of a place for a drink, I think we have well earned it!