Wadjup, the Noongar name for the Canning flats, refers to the area downriver from Riverton Bridge and includes the Clontarf, Waterford and Salter Point foreshores which cover 34 hectares of land, providing habitat for over 74 species of birds,12 reptile and 6 amphibian species. We had already explored Wadjup from the Redmond Reserve Stairs upriver past the Salter Point Lagoon to Sandon Park.
Sandon Park was again our starting point as it has parking, off Eldersfield Road, toilets and picnic facilities. Sandon Park is known for its large open grassy areas, wetlands, walkways and easy access to the foreshore. The stunning river views from the barbecues and the play equipment make this park a must stop spot.
From here you can access the Melaleuca Grove Loop Trail by crossing the bridge across the channel. This is where we began our walk downriver to explore Salter Point Lagoon.
The adjacent Andrew Thompson Conservation Reserve has some exercise equipment and a large grassy area for kicking a ball around. This reserve protects the fringing riverine vegetation and extends upriver to Clontarf. There are warnings that 'snakes live here' along the entire foreshore trail as the wetlands are home to tiger snakes so keep an eye out and keep kids and dogs close.
The Waterford Conservation Area Loop Trail, marked by swan trail markers, is a paved path offering river views, bushland, open spaces and parks as you follow it along the river to Clontarf.
After crossing a channel you emerge at Bodkin Park which features a Living Stream. You can stay within Bodkin Park and follow the channel or just enjoy the small interactive playground which has a humpy, a sitting circle, a bee hotel and some fantastic oversized animal sculptures. There is a small lake and several bridges cross the stream through the landscaped gardens. There are no fences so keep an eye on the kids. There are also no facilities here.
We continued along the riverside path, stopping to read the information signs explaining the importance of these wetlands and how they are looked after by the kids at Penrhos College.
As you continue to walk through the Andrew Thompson Conservation Park there are fewer water views but you are amongst the wetland flora and fauna. This is an exceptionally beautiful walk. If you want to loop around to the top of Bodkin Park you can wander up Waterford Avenue for a few hundred metres otherwise take the path alongside the houses. We spotted some early blooming wildflowers in the landscaped garden. We could hear the water birds long before we saw them through the trees leading to the Andrew Thompson Park River Viewing Jetty. You could see how high the water was at it was lapping the bottom of the jetty platform.
The path becomes a shared use path here as it skirts Clontarf Aboriginal College. The vegetation is quite thick and a little eerie with surprise glimpses through the trees to the river and it's birdlife. As you approach the turn in the path you will see birds resting on the broken concrete opposite Clontarf. From here you can see up river to the Leach Highway Bridge.
The path skirts the edges of Clontarf Aboriginal College before a bridge crosses the wetlands channel at the Cygnia Cove development. The path weaves around the wetlands, alive with frog chorus. You can cross the wetlands along a metal boardwalk or skirt the around the edges on the path. There are some signature artworks here - sculptures by Steve Tepper. We also wandered up to Manning Highway to take photos of the entry statements before returning to the wetlands for our return walk.
Being curious we had a little peek around heritage listed Clontarf, which is now an Aboriginal College but was initially a Christian Brothers orphanage.
We wound our way through the side streets back to Waterford Avenue so we could walk back through the top of Bodkin Park, skirting a small lake and then following the living stream to the play area.
The foreshore walk from Sandon Park to Clontarf is just over 4 km and will take about an hour in each direction. It is flat and well paved so is ideal for prams or kids on bikes and scooters. If this is too long you can choose to shorten it by turning around at any point or by diverting along Waterford Avenue to the top of Bodkin Park. Do make sure you walk all the way through Bodkin Park as it is quite beautiful.
I've had this walk on my list for a while waiting for a lovely sunny day to make the river shine and I couldn't have asked for a better day! I think this one will be on my favourites list for 2020!