Perth CBD, Swan River and Heirisson Island, Perth, Australia
9th of March 2014
A conquest of the Swan Rivers upper reaches starts today with party-goers heading home, high rollers and hiding urban kangaroos.
- Location: Perth City/Heirisson Island/Swan River/Burswood, Perth, Australia
- Start or End: I started at Elizabeth Quay Train Station and finished at Perth Train Station. There a many alternate public transport options along the trail.
- Length: 13.0km (8.1mi)
- Grade: Easy. Paved the whole way except for the flat gravel tracks on Heirisson Island. Flat, medium length walk.
In my last blog I boasted that I had "conquered" the Swan River with the completion of the Three Bridges Loop and the Narrows to Heirisson Loop. Now it is time to firmly stamp my authority on the Swan River and begin a conquest of the upper reaches of the river. Today's goal is the shoreline between Heirisson Island and Windan Bridge in addition to Heirisson Island itself. And what a day to start such a conquest, the weather is absolutely perfect.
My walk begins deep in the Perth CBD at the Perth Underground Station from which I cross the Horseshoe Bridge and head east along Roe Street. At the corner of Roe and Beaufort Street I come across the former Perth Police Court building and now the Centenary Galleries of the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
It's ironic that I notice a former Police Court as the majority of people walking about are a little on the rough side. This is particularly true along the train line between Perth and Claisebrook train stations. It is early Sunday morning and it looks like a number of people are walking off a big night.
At Claisebrook train station there is a foot bridge that leads to the other side of the Graham Farmer Freeway. There is something definitely different about pedestrian bridges in Perth compared to other places I have lived such as Newcastle and Brisbane on the east coast of Australia. On the east coast a pedestrian bridge over a freeway or a train line would definitely be enclosed by massive fences angled at the top to stop dickheads throwing crap off the bridge and onto unsuspecting car and train drivers. I haven't noticed such fences in Perth so far. I wonder why this is. Are Sandgropers (i.e. Western Australians) less likely to randomly endanger a stranger compared to people on the east coast?
From the footbridge I walk east along the Graham Farmer Freeway. Definitely not the most visually and aurally appealing walk, however I did see the front of pole dancing academy (i.e. there isn't that much to see). Is it just me or do the words "pole dancing" and "academy" not really fit? How can a form of entertainment from the sex industry be linked to a word with origins dating back to Plato's school of philosophy, founded in approximately 385 BC?
Ok, that's enough about pole dancing. I do finally walk past something interesting near the Windan Bridge, some sort of old timey conveyer belt tin structure within the Western Power site. Not sure what it is, but certainly worth a photo.
Just after the old timey conveyer belt tin structure is the Windan Bridge, which crosses the Swan River. Fortunately the pedestrian access is below the road level so the views over the Swan River are calmer than I expected, if not a little glary due to the rising sun.
From the Windan Bridge I leave the Graham Farmer Freeway and follow the path along the southern bank of the Swan River, heading down stream. There is a fair bit of noise from the Graham Farmer Expressway and the Armadale train line which cross the Windan Bridge, but as I head further downstream between the Swan River and the former Burswood Park Golf Course the walk becomes much more pleasant, and much more popular with other walkers and runners.
There are no Sunday hackers on the tees of Burswood Park Golf Club today as the course was closed in 2013 to make way for a six-star hotel and Perth's new stadium. There isn't much development here today but in a few years this walk will be very different. I hope they keep some of the ponds of the old golf course with the new development. The water of the Swan River on one side and cygnets (baby swans) swimming in the ponds on the other side made for a really enjoyable walk. I tried not to get too close to the cygnets as mum Swan was swimming very quickly to the area and she didn't seem that pleased for me to be so close to her kids.
After avoiding the glare of mother Swan I soon reach the Crown Perth entertainment precinct, which is where Perth locals and tourists alike gather to play. Crown Perth consists of two hotels, casino, convention centre, theatre, two ballrooms and numerous bars and restaurants. If you are ever walking along here and feel like a flutter you can hit the blackjack tables at any hour of the day. Crown Perth is also the only venue in the whole of Western Australia where pokies (electronic poker machines) are allowed. For a guy originally from the east coast of Australia were pokies are at 99% of pubs and clubs this is just weird, but at the same time a pleasant change.
Overcoming the desire to sip Martinis while dropping all of my money on the Chocolate Wheel I continue to walk along the Swan River. On the other side of the Swan River is my next destination, Heirisson Island. I could swim, but I didn't bring my bathers so I continue to walk towards the Causeway, the bridge to Heirisson Island, a much more intelligent option.
After crossing the south eastern section of the Causeway onto Heirisson Island I make my way to the north western bank of the island where I find a park bench in the shade for a well-deserved rest. As I nibble on some nuts I enjoy some great views of the Causeway crossing the Swan River and the towering lights of the WACA (Western Australian Cricket Association Ground).
Despite being so close to the city, Heirisson Island is absolutely deserted. I can hear the rumblings of the city but there is no one around. It's a little eerie actually. Maybe Heirisson Island is not the most exciting place to be?
A short stroll from my rest point the path is blocked by a fence. What! Is this dead end? No wonder it is deserted. Fortunately, there is a gate which I can pass though. So why is there a fence? Kangaroos. Yep, that's right. There is a mob of kangaroos which live on the island and are controlled by a large fence which blocks off the south western end of Heirisson Island. All of a sudden this walk has become much more exciting.
After passing through the gate I keep a sharp eye out for Kangaroos. I am excited to see kangaroos, but this is definitely not my first kangaroo experience. During my teenage years I lived with my family in an area which was packed with kangaroos. I would wake up every morning to the sound of kangaroos bounding along the gravel driveway. However, I have never seen kangaroos this close to a city. With all my kangaroo experience I wouldn't call myself an expert, but even I know that where there are kangaroos there is also a lot of kangaroo poo. Along my walk I do not see a skerrick of kangaroo droppings and also ... what are the kangaroos even eating? As you can see there isn't much grass around.
I didn't see a single Kangaroo in the fenced section of Heirisson Island, but the walk was well worth it with great views of the Swan River, the Perth CBD skyline and the natural settings of the island.
With the disappointment of not spotting a single urban kangaroo I leave the enclosed area. So what exciting sights are there on the other side of Heirisson Island? Not much on the actual island, just fields of dry grass and a few trees, but there are good views across the river.
Heirisson Island isn't the most exciting place in the world, but that's what I like about it. I can go for a stroll right next to the city without seeing a soul. Heirisson Island is definitely a place I would love to visit again, but in the spring when the rains have greened up the grass and the kangaroos are more likely to be hopping about.
The solitude I enjoyed on Heirisson Island soon disappeared as I reached the mainland via the Causeway. I was walking right into the middle of a triathlon taking place near the Causeway and along Riverside Drive and Langley Park. I really don't think the runners appreciated me on the path. Time to get out of the way of the sweating triathletes, get back into the city streets and find the nearest train station home.
Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Have you taken this walk? Any suggestions or errors? Please comment below.