Out and About
Rocky Bay Walk - North Fremantle to Minim Cove
Updated: Mar 10, 2020
This trail meanders along the North Fremantle Esplanade with it's mooring pens and luxury riverside apartments before following sections of the North Fremantle Heritage Trail with it's historic buildings and various artworks along the high cliffs of Rocky Bay and into the landscaped paths along Mimim Cove with it's million dollar views. The turnaround point at Mt Lyell offers fabulous 360 degree views up and down the river.
We actually started on the East Fremantle side, parking near "The Left Bank" (so we could have a well earned coffee after the walk!) We walked downstream climbing the stairs to the Stirling HIghway Bridge and admiring the fabulous views downstream towards Fremantle Harbour and upstream to East Fremantle as we crossed the bridge.
As you descend on the northern side you are in Sorrell Park - a lovely little park with some minor play equipment, a cute bridge and a small paddling beach. Spot the circular artwork - these artworks are a theme on this trail and there are several more to spot.
From Sorrell Park head upstream under Stirling Bridge following the paved path through the Prawn Bay Wetlands before emerging at the end of Johannah Street at the edge of Gilbert Fraser Oval. There is very limited parking here. Gilbert Fraser Reserve and the Grandstand are both heritage listed.
You can choose to walk on the grass alongside the reserve or you can walk along the beach on the riverfront. The riverfront is an off lead dog exercise area so you can watch the dogs enjoying the water. You will emerge at the launching place for the Indian Ocean Dragon Boat Club near the wooden 'Boat Seat'. They did try to recruit us for the 9am dragon boat sailing but we declined and continued our walk. Later, as we walked around Rocky Bay we could hear the beat of the drum and watched the dragonboat as it paddled towards Minim Cove and back.
From here follow the paved pathway along the North Fremantle Foreshore As you stroll past the luxury apartments, boat pens and jetties along the foreshore you will come across two more artworks - plaques representing knot types and port and starboard.
At the end of the foreshore park you emerge at the WA Water Police. You can explore tiny Harvey Beach which has recently had it's jetty removed due to safety concerns. The original jetty hosted steam paddlers but was demolished to make way for the water police.
From Harvey Beach follow Harvest Road up hill, turning right onto Corkhill Street and left onto Alfred Road which you follow to Rule Street, opposite Alfred Road Park. Turn right at Rule Street and follow Rule Street to the Old Soap Factory where you can find limited parking bays if you wish to shortcut this walk.
Rule Street is a popular bike route so beware of bikes on the road here. The path which now follows the North Fremantle Heritage Trail passes Sew Park as it follows the edge of Rocky Bay providing stunning views.
You will pass State Engineering Work's Park, which has a small playground, on your left - continue to follow the path through Rocky Bay Reserve. Where the path changes colour it becomes Masson Mews, a lovely landscaped walkway with interpretive signage and fabulous river views and real estate to match! There is a network of up to three paths leading up to Garungup Park. Continue to follow the river past Garungup Park but turn left at the next little park - Minim Cove - walking up the incline and the steps.
Minim Cove was home to a fertiliser manufacturing plant for nearly 60 years. Operations ceased in 1969 and the site, which has some of the best river views in Perth, remained derelict until the State Government decided to clean it up and redevelop it for housing in the 1990s. It became one of Perth's biggest environmental remediation projects.
Continue straight ahead through the roundabout and up Hutchinson Avenue. On the right at the corner of Hutchinson and McCabe Streets is the very realistic Spider Sculpture Park.
Cross the road from the Spider Park into Mount Lyell Park and explore - look for the statues and the mosaic clock before ascending the stairs to the lookout which provides 360 degree views across the river and back over Rocky Bay. There is a network of gently sloping trails to make the park and the lookout fully accessible for prams and wheelchairs so don't let the stairs put you off! There are some parking bays on Pethybridge Heights off McCabe Street here if you want to start your walk from this point.
We previously discovered My Lyell Park after walking through the Buckland Hill WW2 Tunnels and it is a very memorable spot! You can also explore the Minim Cove section between Mt Lyell and the Russell Brown Adventure Park. This section is part of the 10.5km Mosman Park Heritage Trail which we have explored on other walks.
From the park head west along McCabe Street and turn left at Edwards Parade. You will emerge at the top of Garungup Park so you can walk down the stairs (or follow the winding universal access pathways) to the bottom. Have a rest on the sunlounges or investigate the decorative panels. Before heading back along Masson Mews explore the lower pathways which lead to a gazebo and Milo Beach. Head up the stairs from the gazebo and wander through the native gardens before rejoining the main path.
On our return we diverted at the Old (Burford's) Soap Factory, crossing grassy Rule Park to the timber landmark. From here we followed the Rocky Bay Cliff Trail, a rough dirt trail along the tops of the Rocky Bay cliffs around the point to Cypress Park. This section is rough, unfenced and follows the very edge of the steep rocky bay cliffs so I would not recommend this section for kids as there is a sheer drop into the river. If you look carefully you might see the pipe which used to drain effluent from the Old Soap Factory directly into Rocky Bay!
You will emerge at Cypress Hill (Mam-in Kala Kata) the highest point in North Fremantle. Cypress Hill has significant associations for local Nyungar people. The Rocky Bay cave under the hill is where the Waugal (rainbow serpent) rested on its journey home upriver. During World War Two, anti-aircraft guns were installed on the top of the hill. The hill was also the site of annual bonfire nights when local children would make big bonfires on top of the hill and light it up on Guy Fawke’s night.
From Cypress Park walk down Ainslie Street and you will come out at Corkhill Street where you can follow Harvest Road back to the water police and from there head back along the foreshore. Alternatively you can follow the old signage for the North Fremantle Heritage Trail found on Harvest Road near the Water Police but be warned other signs along the trail were severely degraded and hard to read.
An alternative walk from the Old Soap Factory if you don't wish to follow the Rocky Bay Walk Trail along the cliffs or to retrace your steps along the foreshore is to follow the North Fremantle Historic Town Walk by taking Rule Street to Harvest Road.
This walk took around 2 hours and is an 8 km round trip. Unfortunately I forgot to put on my GPS so I don't have the walk mapped. You could break this walk into shorter walks by parking on the North Fremantle side or further along the walk at the Old Soap Factory.
The trail was mostly flat but did have some hilly sections and although most of the pathway was paved the Gilbert Fraser Reserve section was not. There were no public toilet facilities along the walk which is why we parked in East Fremantle. As well as The Left Bank there is also a Dome cafe on the river at East Fremantle. Public toilets are available opposite the East St Jetty.
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