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City to the Sea Path: Perth CBD to City Beach, Perth, Australia

1st of February 2014

Metrotrekking from the Perth CBD to the Indian Ocean involves encounters with train tracks, busy suburban streets and some nice suburbs. Lucky the destination was worth it.

  • Location: Perth City to City Beach, Perth, Australia
  • Start or End: Start or end at either Perth Train Station or City Beach.
  • Length: 12.6km (7.8mi)
  • Grade: Easy to Medium. Paved the whole way and flat except for a hill along Oceanic Drive.

I have now been a Sandgroper (a nickname used to describe people from Western Australia, probably because there is A LOT of sand around) for a year now and have enjoyed exploring the Perth Metropolitan area by foot for much of this time (weather, wine and sports broadcasts permitting). After some quiet contemplation on the previous year's paths it dawns on me ... I have expended many a footstep next to water. This makes sense as Perth is blessed with a beautiful Indian Ocean coastline, the majestic Swan River and a number of lakes.

It's about time I tried a path that doesn't follow water. After a Google "walking in perth" search I stumble across the Western Australian Department of Transport website, which contains a number of path brochures with maps. A route which really stood out was the City to the Sea path which, as the name suggests, leads from the Perth CBD to the coast, specifically City Beach. Yes I know it still involves water, but I won't be walking along it, I will be walking to it. The City to the Sea path also stood out because it traverses an area I have never explored and there is easy public transport options at both ends.

While the City to the Sea brochure is targeted at bike riders the path is actually shared with pedestrians. The path starts from the Perth Train Station, follows the Fremantle train line for a while and then passes by the inner city shopping precincts of Harbour Town Shopping Centre and Subiaco. After the retail therapy the path passes by the more natural settings of Perry Lakes, Bold Park and Jubilee Park before reaching City Beach.

I start the walk after departing the Perth Underground train station and head over the tracks using the aptly named Horseshoe Bridge (it has a horseshoe like shape, but I reckon it looks more like a question mark without the dot). The path then follows the road (Roe Street, Railway Street and Railway Parade) and the Fremantle train line to Paterson Stadium were the local AFL (Australia Football League or Aussie Rules) teams of the Fremantle Dockers and the West Coast Eagles play. Along this stretch there isn't really that much to see and unfortunately there was a lot of construction around the Perth Train Station and the Perth Arena which caused a few delays and uneven paths.

From Paterson Stadium the path passes through Subiaco where there are a number of cafés and retail outlets, but I am very early as usual so not much is open. That's fine by me as it keeps the walk nice and quiet.

Along Juniper Bank Way there is a lovely park with plenty of lush trees and a large pond. A good spot to have a rest, rehydrate and fill up on some dried fruit and nuts.

After a rest it was back on the City to the Sea path through the suburbs of Jolimont and Floreat. I really do not understand why the brochure suggests to take this route. Why do you go south down Selby Street? Why not go north and then head west along Cambridge St, which then turns into Oceanic Drive? You really don't miss out on much, just some of the Perry Lakes Reserve. Is the longer and just as boring route suggested because the City to the Sea brochure is aimed at bike riders? Maybe my alternate route is not good for bikes? From Google Maps my alternate route seems very well serviced, so I am not sure why. Anyway, I take the route suggested by the City to the Sea brochure. Definitely not the most inspiring walk as this section is dominated by busy suburban streets.

The walk improves once I hit Oceanic Drive. Sure I am still next to a busy road, but on the other side of the path is the natural setting of Bold Park. Damn it is dry around here. The vegetation is crisp, parched and ready to go up in flames with a single spark.

As I approach my final destination of City Beach I pass through Jubilee Park, which looks like a popular spot for people working on their fitness. Walking past personal trainers shouting words of encouragement to sweaty, red faced middle aged men and women I reach City Beach and the Indian Ocean.

What a great end to a rather mediocre walk. The cool breeze, bright sands and emerald blue of the ocean sure do make up for walking along train tracks and busy roads. Great walks are about the journey not the destination (what a cliché), but in the case of the City to the Sea path I think it is all about the destination. Sure there were some pockets of interest, but nothing out of the ordinary.

As a sit enjoying the view of the natural surrounds (including the female beach volleyball players) I contemplate how the next major land mass over the horizon is Africa, all the way on the other side of the Indian Ocean. Wait a minute ... Ocean? Didn't I just walk the City to the Sea path? Sea? What sea? It’s an ocean isn't it? Who named this walk? It should be called City to the Ocean path. But then again geography is not my best subject.

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