Cycling around Perth’s iconic Swan River is something everyone should do at least once. You don’t need to be Cadel Evans to cycle around the Swan. You can go fast, take it slow, take the kids or go it alone. No matter how you do it, it’s something everyone can do and it’s the best way to see the sights. Lycra’s optional, a map’s essential.
It’s about 50km to do the whole Swan River circuit. If that sounds like a lot, it’s mostly flat and unlike the Tour de France there are no mountains to conquer. You can shorten the route by using the Narrows Bridge and omit going along the South Perth foreshore and Heirisson Island. Similarly, you can extend the ride by including the Canning River and cycling along the Mt Pleasant foreshore. Adding Kings Park to the ride is also an option.
There are plenty of spots along the way to rest for coffee, lunch or a picnic. You can also quite easily catch the train back too if you don’t want to do the whole thing. Of course, there’s also nothing stopping you from turning this into a physical challenge. The point though is that you can make it as physical or leisurely as you wish.
Where to Start?
The good thing about cycling the Swan River is that it’s a circuit, which basically means that you can start anywhere along the river and end up back at the same spot without having to backtrack.
If you’re coming by car there are plenty of car parks along the river foreshore where you can park for free.
If you’re catching the train the best train stations to start the ride are; Fremantle Train Station or the Esplanade in Perth. You could also alight at any of the stations between Claremont and Fremantle, including Cottesloe, Mosman Park and North Fremantle. From these stations, it’s a fairly short ride through suburbia to the river and cycle paths.
It’s a good idea to factor in the wind direction when you decide on what way you’re going to go. If it’s a seabreeze day, you will want to avoid cycling into headwind especially if you’ve already been in the saddle for a few hours. For that purpose, I would recommend that you go in a clockwise direction and start on the western side of the river first. Either way, if it’s a strong wind you will still feel it, but it will facilitate things going in this direction.
How not to get lost
For the most part, there are purpose built cycle paths which make finding the way easy. This is more true for the eastern side of the Swan River than it is for the coastal side. For most of the way from the city, across the narrows, to Applecross and all the way to East Fremantle you’ll find an excellent bike path which is almost impossible to miss.
The other side, around North Fremantle, Mosman Park, Claremont and Dalkeith is where things get trickier. There are a few areas here where you will need to cycle on roads or pedestrian pathways. Around Christ Church Grammar School in Claremont, you will need to ride up to Stirling Highway and then head back down to the river.
Make sure you have a map with you if you are unfamiliar with this area. There’s very little signage to indicate where the cycle path is meant to be which can be quite confusing at times.
Where to Stop
There are plenty of places along the way that are worth stopping for. If it’s coffee or lunch you’re after, these places are all directly on the foreshore and casual enough for bike wear;
Matilda Bay Tea Rooms, Nedlands
Keanes Point Cafe, Mosman Park
The Left Bank, East Fremantle
Zephyr Café, East Fremantle
Blue Water Grill, Heathcote Reserve, Applecross (you’ll need to go up the hill for this one but it’s worth it for the views)
Deep Water Point Reserve, Mt Pleasant
Mends Street Jetty, South Perth
The Boatshed, South Perth
Barrack Street Jetty, Perth
Have you cycled around the Swan River? Share your tips in the comments below or ask a question about riding around the river.
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