How lucky we are to live in the most beautiful city in the world and for it to be so accessible and so easy to discover new adventures.
My son Tom and I were recently discussing an upcoming void in the activity filled life of an eleven-year-old boy and he suggested waterbikes on the Swan River. He wanted to ride under the Narrows bridge and hear the traffic and trains rumbling overhead.
The Perth Waterbike Company operates at South Perth on a little beach near the Narrows Bridge and at Rottnest. Tours start at $30 for the give-it-a-go style 30-minute experience right up to a two-hour tour for $90.
Tours can be tailor made or you can trust these guys completely to show you the sites and the sights within a reasonable pedalling distance. The most popular tours are the sunset rides and who doesn’t love being on the water when the sun sinks down behind Kings Park?
Arriving for the afternoon tour, it’s an overcast day but there’s no sea breeze that can make the air over the water a little bit cool. There’s warmth in the air and just a little bit of excitement as well. I love my travels and adventures, here at home and abroad but nothing makes me happier than a shared experience with my kids. Today it’s Tom and I on the road to discovery, or more aptly, the river of discovery.
While I’m always mindful of fitness requirements in the activities I undertake, our guide Nev has a brilliant way of assisting tired legs when you’re in the middle of the river. Just like those pilot vessels and tugs that pulled up alongside the stuck tanker in the Suez Canal recently, Nev tucked in behind Tom’s craft when his little legs were failing and pushed his bike while Tom took a break.
The waterbikes themselves are light and easy to ride and there’s no rush. Nev is insistent that the aim of the tour is to relax and unwind and allow yourself plenty of time not to pedal, just drift and enjoy being on the water and seeing all the hustle and bustle swirling around you on the freeway and the city.
As we make our way under the Narrows it is surprisingly dark and cool. It’s even too dark to see the Swan River big brown jellyfish that never seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere. I like their style.
Adopting inspiration from the jellyfish and Nev’s advice, I stop peddling. Around me there is busyness, but in my mind there is none. I notice Tom has now stopped churning the water and is looking up at the underneath of the Narrows Bridge.
I’m about to do my Dad bit and Nev is about to do his guiding bit but we share a look and say nothing at all, we just enjoy watching Tom look up and around.
The Narrows is actually made up of two road bridges and one train bridge. The original name of the bridge, announced in the early 1950s by then Deputy Premier, John Tonkin, was the Golden West Bridge but it was never popular and never mentioned again.
The first bridge was completed in 1959 and entered the state’s national heritage register in 1999.
When we’re off and moving again towards Elizabeth Quay, Nev has some great stories to tell about the wildlife and boats on the river. He doesn’t crowd us and he allows us plenty of time to pedal in circles or to just drift and listen to the lapping of the water on our waterbike pontoons.
It’s one of those adventures that you find yourself thinking about doing again with other members of your family or a group of friends.
The bike’s pontoons make them super stable and they’re very visible to any boats who are in the area. Just like a bike on land, the seats are adjustable, and the steering is easy.
Riding a waterbike doesn’t just have to be enjoyed in summer. Over the cooler months Perth Waterbike Company will continue to provide experiences and tours so even if there’s grey clouds about, get out and about and try something new and support our local businesses that are putting a dash of adventure in our lives.
You’ll find the Perth Waterbike Company on the South Perth side of the Narrows Bridge and also over at Rottnest Island. Check out their website at: www.perthwaterbikeco.com.au.