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Swan River Ramble - Balbuk Reserve to Ascot Waters Marina

Updated: Apr 7

The Swan River Ramble is an interactive walk trail designed for kids to explore the Swan River. You can walk, cycle, jog, picnic and play while you find Eric hiding at 14 different locations along both banks of the Swan. To help make the most of your adventure use a QR reader (available for download from your app store) to unlock information about each place.

We have previously walked the trail on the northern bank around the Maylands Peninsula and from Baigup Wetlands up to Eric Singleton Bird Sanctuary and have also done sections around Ascot Waters and Kuljak Island and Ascot to Garvey Park

So this time we set out to explore the south bank starting from Balbuk Reserve at the Goodwood Parade Boat Ramp and heading all the way up to Ascot Waters.

It's a little tricky to exit onto Balbuk Way from the entrance slip road on to the Graham Farmer Freeway past the Victoria Park Drive turnoff at Burswood. Look for and follow the Boat Ramp sign. If you miss it or if you prefer you can work backwards from one of the other parks which have parking available.

The parking at Balbuk Reserve is also for the Goodwood Parade Boat Ramp, which is a boat launch/waterskiing area and can get busy on summer weekends. Having said that we were there early February on quite a hot day and there was ample parking, both on arrival at 8.30 and when we left around 10.30am.

The walk from Balbuk Reserve to Ascot Waters took about an hour each way with a few stops. If this is too long you can choose to explore between the parks.

At Balbuk Reserve backtrack along Balbuk Way a little way to read the about the history of the Burswood Peninsula and about the Burswood Canal that was dug by hand in 1831. It took 7 men 107 days to dig the 257 m long canal. Although the canal saved boats from a 3 and a half mile journey around the mudflats of the Burswood Peninsula and opened up trade the Burswood Canal never really worked and was soon replaced. Find Eric in the reserve and check out the aboriginal artworks before heading off along the paved pathway. Although this path is shared use another bike path runs alongside the freeway and we found that the faster bikes went that way leaving the paths clear for walkers and riders moving at a gentler pace.

This section of the walk reminded me of rainforest with the ferns, large palms and dense tree canopy. It had a very different feel to the other sections. The flat paved path is ideal for prams, bikes and scooters as it winds it's way following the curves of the river. There are benches with river views to sit on for a break or a snack. Dogs are welcome on lead. Although this section runs alongside the freeway I found the bird chorus covered any traffic noise.

After a ten minute walk you will come out at Cracknell Park where the kids can play on the upper level playground which includes a basketball court and table tennis table. A must do is a walk out onto the jetty to watch life go by on the river. The grassy area above the jetty is ideal for a picnic but this area is an off leash dog exercise area. Eric will tell you all about this park on your QR reader. Parking is available on Riversdale Road if you wish to make this your starting point.

From Cracknell Park there are some suburb river views and as you gently climb look west for views of the city and Optus Stadium. As you continue heading east you will arrive at Bilya Kard Boodja Lookout (at the time of our walk the footpath was closed towards the end and we had to detour up to the street and walk a few hundred meters at street level - if this is still the case make sure you cross over at the big empty car park as this is where the lookout is - even if you miss this you will see the other entrance as you continue walking).

Bilya Kard Boodja Lookout acknowledges the importance of this area to the traditional owners and reflects Aboriginal history through plaques detailing traditional use of this area by the Noongar tribes. The Moorn Barndi (Black Bream) Sculpture recognises that black bream are endemic to the Swan River and can not be found anywhere else in the world. It also provides a frame for lovely city views. The Lookout has great views up and down the river. Within the park is a small nature playground with a ropes course. Although there is a large car park here all the bays are marked as reserved - on a weekend it was completely empty so this could be an alternative access point.

Also near the lookout are some stairs - great if you want to get your heart rate up. There are two paths here a lower path and an upper path so you can take one on the way and one on the way back.

Keep walking from the Lookout and you arrive at Adachi Park with it's beautiful Japanese themed gardens. Explore all the paths to find some simple nature play elements and a large gazebo honouring the sister city of Adachi in Japan. Adachi Park is one of those parks that changes with the seasons so make sure you come back to see how the trees change. We looked up for the microbats but didn't see any.

The second section of Adachi Park, across the bridge, has a small playground with a birds nest swing, barbecue facilities and a toilet. It is also home to "The Dollshouse" which, sadly, is fenced in. This little Bristile "house" acknowledges the old brickworks on the adjoining land.

Adachi Park merges into Hardey Park which has bike paths, lots of green spaces, exercise equipment, a boat ramp and a heritage listed Moreton Bay Fig.

From here it is only a short ten minute walk to Ascot Waters where you can see the southern tip of Kuljak Island and the boat moorings. You can also choose to walk a little further to explore Freshwater Lake or turn around and admire the river views from a different perspective as you retrace your steps.

The walk from Cracknell Park to Hardey Park does have some reasonable inclines and will take you about 25 minutes to walk.

Toilet facilities are available at Balbuk Reserve and at Hardey Park.

If you have enjoyed reading this blog head to to read more including other sections of the Swan River Ramble.

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 emerging and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

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