We all seek exotic in very different ways. And places. And while I enjoy a hike inside a tiger-infested park or brass-monkey walk under Northern Lights just as much as anyone else, my personal favourites, when it comes to emptying my mind and finding photographic solace, come in far more common-garden shapes and locations.
You see, much to my amazement (and embarrassment in hairy-chested travel tog circles), I love the company of people and their work. Not that I allow them to litter my photographs, I have some wildling dignity left in me. But, somehow, the interaction between man and nature, appeals to my photon-grabbing self more than a sunset over a remote glacier. Probably because traveling to a remote glacier at sunset is so much more tiring and far away from the warm reward of apple crumble and carrot cake, after the shoot.
This “into the not-so wild” love of natural beauty embellished (or, at least, not knackered to the ground) by man (no, make that Man), climaxes in many of the areas I love to drag my photographic gear into. Such as the vineyard-covered hillsides of Tain l’Hermitage, for instance. Or, in a totally different style, Perth, WA.
In many ways, Perth doesn’t play fair. Other cities can’t compete. Young and rich, raised by the Indian Ocean, tanned by sunset after sunset and bathed in a delicate golden light. But, mostly, parted by a magnificent river which gives it a huge chunk of its unparalleled beauty and lifestyle.
And the River Swan is what this DS Hotspot post is all about.
For lying down with a book, it makes a great 11-months a year destination. The photograph above was made on an evening during the coldest part of one of the coldest winters in recent Perth history (according to my family, who lives there). This ain’t Minnesota. But the riverside is good for much more than jogging and watching corporate hubris destroy night vision in such a beautiful way. It’s also a stunning photographic playing ground from A to Z.
So let me break it up in chunks, each very walkable and visually distinct. I’ll stick to urban sections of the river with footpaths all along. I’ll also stick to the places I walked during my latest visit, leaving out a huge chunk West of the city, where it flows lazily into the ocean, as well as all the Canning river’s suburban nature paradise, to the South.
It would be a little misleading to call this the wildest part of the riverside hike, because you never once leave the vicinity of built-up areas. But it certainly feels a little more natural here than on other sections of the walk.
This is the land of old trees and fishermen, of wooden bridges and jetties and even of exotic wild birds and billabong-like inlets.
It’s a setting of great semi-natural beauty for some wonderful houses and probably one of the areas I’d most like to live. Places like Garvey Park, Ayres Bushland or Claughton Reserve ensure a lot of greenery is preserved in the otherwise very build-up suburbs of Ascot, Belmont and Bayswater. They also provide numerous jetties and lookouts on the river with views up to the CBD.
Further downstream, the walkways climb a little higher, providing lovely views up and down the river.
Further down still, Pitman Park has a nice marina on offer, as well as an island full of interesting wildlife.
This first part of the walk ends when you reach the new stadium in Burswood. Along the way you’ll find a lot more variety than the few words above can describe, with lovely urban parks and other man-made features that play well with the river rather than spoil its natural good looks.
Here, I’m referring to the area rotating around the WACA, spanning from Victoria Gardens (below) to the CBD. But the Tony di Scerni parthway can take you much further East (all the way back to the starting point) if you fancy the walk and great morning views on the city skyline.
Not much to say about this area. It’s the fastest evolving city center I’ve ever witnessed (though Shanghai probably makes it look like a sleepy backwater) and it’s till unclear to me whether they’re improving the experience for locals or robbing them of riverside enjoyment for the exclusive development of superrich housing.
This is basically the area opposite the CBD. An easy 5 minute crossing via the ferry. And particularly rewarding at sunset or during the dark hours. An interesting 2 mile walk along the river’s edge takes you through parks and along little beaches up to the ferry jetty and past it to the narrows bridge and some of the city’s most exclusive housing. Possibly my fave area in the center. Avian wildlife is abundant and varied in the area.
And the final part of this guided tour starts off on the other side of the narrows bridge (just west of the CBD) passes below Kings Park (which deserves an entry in its own right) and continues to the lovely Matilda Bay marina with its nice coffee shop overlooking the river. It is home to the blue boat-shed which has become one of the most photographed landmarks of the city and it almost impossible to find without a bride tied to it …
So there you have it. Fun for a super long day’s walk or – more likely – fun for 2 or 3 days of exploration. When I return, I’ll walk to the sandbar and report on that. In the mean time, what do you guys think?
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