After visiting Perth City Farm one Saturday morning we decided to explore the Claisebrook Cove Art Trail. There are several car parks around Claisebrook but most charge even on the weekend so we found a shaded spot on Fielder Street opposite the ABC building with free unrestricted weekend parking. There are plenty of other streets with free weekend parking but during the business week you would have to pay. Alternatively you could catch the train to Claisebrook Station which is right next to Perth City Farm.
When we walked this trail we followed the original map so there may be some discrepancies between the blog and the new updated trail. Apologies in advance but the new map is quite clear to follow so with map in hand you should be able to follow this trail...unless you get lost looking for geckos!
Download the new map: https://www.eastperthcommunity.org.au/claisebrook-family-art-walk
We grabbed a coffee at the Kinky Lizard Espresso bar (there are quite a few cosy little cafes open on a Saturday morning) and got our bearings at Victoria Gardens, where you will also find public toilets. Victoria Gardens were first planted in the 1870s. Prior to this the cove was a series of swamps, marshes and underground water courses which were an important Noongar camping site even many years after colonisation. The new Art Trail starts at the Victoria Gardens Shelter.
The original trail started on Royal Street and as a sidetrip we headed up Trafalgar Road for a block and found Macey Walk - a lovely walkway leading down towards the Swan River with views of Matagarup Bridge. Macey Walk features replica theatre seats and three bronzes...a football, a thong and can you find the third? At the end of Macey Street we peeked out over the gardens with their fitness equipment down below and access onto Matagarup Bridge. The footpath here had the word peace inscribed in it in many different languages.
We looped back along Arden Street to Victoria Gardens but we could also have walked down the hill toward the River and then turned left as we would have come out at Illa Kuri, Sacred Dreaming Path.
Follow Illa Kuri around the edge of the River into the Cove to find the Niche Wall Mural, narrative panels tracing the evolution of the area from it's origins as a Bibbulmun nation to the arrival of the Europeans and industrialisation. Head up the stairs past the Mural to find the Charnock Woman Mosaic up on the "Lookout" section. A plaque on the wall explains the Bibbulmun Dreaming Story represented in the mosaic. Look closely at the gaps in the low wall as these show where the sun rises on significant days of the year including Australia Day, summer and winter solstices and Foundation Day. This is also a popular spot for families to enjoy sliding down Cardboard Hill on cardboard boxes or just by rolling down. Great fun!
Back past the Victoria Gardens Shelter which has two large stone bench/tables with inscriptions. The Trafalgar Bridge across the cove was closed for maintenance on the day we walked so we had to detour down the windy path and backtrack a little way to the Trafalgar Road Culvert and it's magnificent tree.
From here we followed the cove around to the smaller bridge near where the Little Ferry Co docks. We were lucky enough to see the eco friendly solar powered Little Ferry docking as we walked past. The Little Ferry runs a circular route taking in Claisebrook Cove, On the Point, Optus Stadium and Elizabeth Quay so you could add to your day's adventure and explore a bit more with the ferry.
Continuing around the cove we found more artworks and discovered fabulous views of Optus Stadium and Matagarup Bridge at the jetties.
We climbed the stairs into Mardalup Park where we found the concrete poem - a palindrome about gas which you can read forwards or backwards. There is a small playground here, a carpark (fees apply) and lots of paths for the kids to ride around on scooters or bikes.
Walking around this old gasworks site there are lots of wooden totems with informative facts and photos on them and then you get to the Steel Magnolias and other sculptures made from "junk" from the old gasworks. These are set in a lovely little garden area and symbolise the change from industrial to recreational use of this land. Although this looks like a bit of a distance from the cove it is only a few minutes walk.
From here we went up the steps emerging onto Old Belvidere Promenade with it's beautiful trees and cute windy paths and benches. At the end is the Diver and Guard Dog statue which the kids will enjoy. We headed back towards Claisebrook Cove via Renaissance Avenue, Kensington Street and Plain Street. On Plain Street we missed the Chinese Consulate Art work but did see the Impossible Triangle. In hindsight we would probably go from the Diver and Guard Dog Statue back down Victory Terrace and Henry Lawson Walk all the way to the Cove as the other roads were uninteresting.
At the traffic light signpost and Royal Street signpost turn left down the steps off Plain Street back down to Claisebrook Cove. Cross over the small bridge and then turn right to follow the Greenway Stream.
There are lots of interesting facts scribed onto the walls as you follow the Greenway Tunnel under the road. As you pass through look for The Sound Chamber (turtle).
From here we detoured to backtrack to Royal Street to find the Heritage Map, right behind the bus stop, in the vicinity of the frog mural.
Back down to Claisebrook Lake to look at the Turtle Walk. From here you can look across and see the Impossible Triangle on the other side (in case you missed it on the walk back to the cove). Follow the Greenway Stream and discover the Old Fjord Tract, the Weeping Wall and the Return of the Tea Tree.
Continue to follow the stream to the Source and the drinking fountain. We realised we had already walked past these at the beginning of our walk along Royal Street from the car.
We couldn't find the Red Surveyor but walked to the end of Fielder Street to check out the Claisebrook Station Windvane by Stuart Green. One of the last items to be produced in the Midland Workshops, Stuart worked with Westrail employees to develop a silent evocation of the dynamic energy of pressured exhaust leaving a steam locomotive stack.
The walk took us around two hours but it was a gentle flat walk with lots of interesting things to look at along the way. The kids will love the Greenway Stream so at the very least do this part and the Victoria Park section including rolling or sliding down Cardboard Hill (take cardboard with you!) There are plenty of places to stop for a meal or a drink along the way. Barbecues are located at Claisebrook Lake and there are plenty of places to sit and enjoy a picnic.
2021 UPDATE: The Art Trail we followed has been revamped and curated by local artist, Andrew Hawes, who appreciates that families have different needs to other groups and has hand painted 160 small gecko sculptures that also act as a 'treasure trail.' The painted geckos reflect three distinct symbolic themes - first the WA flag, then a rainbow gecko depicts Claisebrook Village's inclusivity and finally, the colours of our Indigenous art heritage. The kids will have a wonderful time finding the geckos, some of which are tucked away to make it more challenging, so follow the gecko pointers and pavement stickers and see how many geckos you can find!
We finally managed to get back to check out the geckos in February 2022 but were a bit disappointed. Although we didn't walk the entire trail on the section we walked along the Claisebrook Greenway to Cardboard Hill we only saw geckos on light posts and security camera posts, quite high up for little people to see. We didn't find any gecko pointers or pavement stickers but maybe you need the keen eyes of little people. The geckos were very cute but in my opinion are not really a reason to entice young kids along the art trail. If your kids would willingly walk/ride the art trail they are an added source of interest but I wouldn't be talking the geckos up. Having said that this is an amazing trail to follow with plenty of points of interest, shady trees, playgrounds and cardboard hills to keep the kids busy.
In the spirit of reconciliation Out and About- Family Nature Connection acknowledges the traditional owners of the Wadjak boodjar (Perth land) and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.
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