Updated: Oct 13, 2020
After a wet stormy morning the sun came out to shine and tempted us outside to explore the 2.6km Ashfield Flats Trail. You can start the walk at either end with limited parking bays off Ashfield Parade or a much larger parking area at Sandy Bay Reserve. We parked under the mature trees at Sandy Bay Reserve, which has picnic benches and barbecues, a toilet and a few items of old play equipment. There is a statue of some description on the eastern river front, also old and time worn. The trees are quite interesting with large bulbous bits and some dodgy looking branches ( I probably wouldn't go here on a windy day!) High up in one of the trees we could see bees buzzing around a hole in one of the branches.
With river front access Sandy Beach Reserve is a great place to launch a kayak or just to have a play on the rivers edge. Plans to build a large nature playground at this site have been floating around for years but finally in 2019 approval was granted. The concept plan looks exciting but mid way through 2020 I could see no evidence of building having started. Let's hope it all happens soon!
We walked to the end of the car park and then followed the river across the grass for a short distance before joining a paved pathway. This path follows the river and has great views across the river to Ascot's riverfront homes and Garvey Park. The path was being enjoyed by families with kids of various ages riding their bikes, dads and prams and dog walkers with most dogs on lead.
After a short while you come to a boardwalk over the samphire flats. After quite heavy rainfall the previous fortnight the flats had plenty of water and the samphires were glowing pink and red in the afternoon sunlight. As you cross the boardwalk you cross the two main channels draining into the river. Interpretive signage along the boardwalk explains the purpose of the different features of the wetlands. Ashfield Flats is the largest remaining river flat on the Swan Coastal Plain and IS subject to flooding after heavy rain. We saw several jellyfish in the shallows.
At the end of the boardwalk you can see across to Ron Courtney Island. Unfortunately as the properties beyond the wetlands have private river frontage it is not possible to walk downstream along the river's edge. We took the path alongside one of the drainage channels emerging at the Ashfield Parade entrance to the flats. Here we came across Eric from the Swan River Ramble. We have explored this kid friendly trail before from Baigup Wetlands to Riverside Gardens in Bayswater . and have now filled in this section from Riverside Gardens through to Sandy Bay Reserve which is the end point of the Ramble. See below for links to all the sections of the Swan River Ramble.
On our return we opted to take the dirt path to the left of the boardwalk, following the edge of the wetlands. Owing to the recent rain this section was delightfully muddy so we had to pick our way through a few sections before coming out back at Sandy Bay Reserve.
To complete our Swan River Ramble we filled in the section from Sandy Bay Reserve, which is the end point of the Ramble, through to Riverside Gardens. The Ramble follows the streets west of Ashfield Flats to Claughton Reserve - a 20 minute walk. From there the trail takes you underneath the Tonkin Highway Bridge before looping around to Riverside Gardens.
Claughton Reserve is a large green space with the most unique toilet block I have ever seen! The Nearest of the Faraway Places was once a humble toilet block until Duncan Moon transformed into a beautiful piece of art also known as the turtle toilet. Behind the toilet block the benches were under repair but also feature artwork. There is a small traditional playground with picnic and barbecue facilities.
The road leads to the Bayswater Boat Launching Ramp so parking is mostly for cars and boat trailers however there is room to park along the verge on the river side. There were several cars pulled up here and people were fishing from the small grassy areas on the river banks. Again this is a low lying area prone to flooding and the grove of trees off the car park was underwater as was a short section of the path. On the western side of the car park the path reemerged passing a spooky forest of trees surrounded by very still water covered in algae, providing a mirror image of the trees.
The Swan River Ramble from Sandy Beach Reserve to Garvey Park covers both sides of the Swan River and features in the following blogs: (click on text for link)
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