Bicton is south of the river and it runs right alongside it.
It’s east of Fremantle and nearly a third of the suburb is dedicated to a green belt of bushland, parkland and outdoor activities that is just as important to families today as it was to Aboriginal women and children before the Swan River Colony, when the men hunted and hung out on the Mosman Park side, while the women and kids got to hang out at Jennalup, what we now call Blackwall Reach.
The hidden treasure of Bicton is its access to the river and how it has retained its pristine riverside bushland while providing open spaces for picnics, concerts and beaches for sandcastles and swimming. And it has jetties.
It’s a tradition with Hidden Treasures that we start by meeting Ro’s requirement for “What’s there for sport?”
When we spoke about Midland a few weeks ago I encouraged people to get out there and watch baseball as something a bit different to the footy, basketball and cricket.
Bicton is home in WA to a sport that is worth watching and has tamed down a bit since the infamous 1956 Melbourne Olympics clash between Hungary and Russia. Have you guessed it?
Water Polo! At the Bicton Pool you can watch the home games in the Australian Water Polo League for the Fremantle Mens Mariners and the Fremantle Womens Marlins and they’re the most successful teams in the competition, kind of natural for Western Australian sport. It’s a great spectator sport and I wish other sports could start off as exciting as the ‘swim off’ where both teams swim furiously to get the ball first. And those little caps are kind of cool as well.
Next to the Bicton Pool you’ll find Freestyle (pic above), a very popular meeting point sculpture that is part of the City of Melville We Love Art Project.
Also next to the Bicton Pool and the Freestyle sculpture you’ll find the Bicton Baths which is almost unique in Perth now for being fully enclosed by a jetty that is perfect for jumping off or fishing for big bream and even bigger flathead.
Incredibly, this little area has more! It’s also the location, in the adjacent Quarantine Park, for the annual Broome to Bicton Concert featuring the greatest band in the world, the Pigram Brothers. It’s a popular park all year long with families and for this reason Mr Whippy makes regular visits.
Continuing north along the river foreshore you get to the slightly controversial Blackwall Reach limestone cliffs. Whether it’s just for the adventure, a rite of passage or reckless tomfoolery, it’s a long standing activity to jump off the 10 metre high limestone cliffs into water that can reach 25 metres deep and where scuba divers can discover an old barge at 14 metres and is the most intact wreck site in the Swan River, and populated by all sorts of fish, including sea horses.
This area is actually an underwater tidal gorge and probably the most diverse and highly populated area of the river for underwater life which makes it popular with humans and dolphins for fishing and is one of the best spots on the Swan River to watch dolphins.
On land at Blackwall Reach is the Jenna Biddi Yorga (Womens Feet Walking) walking trail, described by Trails WA as Grade 1. It’s 2km in length and is one of the most scenic, peaceful and bird filled walks in Perth.
Continuing our way north we find ourselves at one of Perth’s best family spots, Point Walter, with its rite of passage walk on the sandbar, great BBQ facilities, little beaches, public art, including the famous Habibi sculpture, and another jetty!
The joy of Point Walter is how perfect it is for everyone to learn their water activity. It’s perfect for learning to swim or use a stand-up paddleboard, fish off the jetty, or do bombies onto big brown jellyfish.
Each year (though currently paused for Covid) there is one of the best outdoor family concerts held in Perth, the Point Walter Concert. It’s currently scheduled by the City of Melville for January 2022.
If you decide not to take a picnic, there is a very good café, although I much prefer to call it a kiosk! Order up some milkshakes and some hot chips and a day at Point Walter with the sun setting behind the western suburbs can’t get any better.
If you head into the streets of Bicton check out the iconic Leopold Hotel which revels in its link to AC/DC (although these days you’re more likely to find families playing Jenga in the big sofas than screaming lead singers doing stage dives). Also seek out Little Stove, a little café that is a big meeting point for those in the community who need coffee to survive. It has local produce, including honey, giftcards and eggs from their own chickens.
Bicton is a hidden treasure next to known treasure. Next door to Bicton are the flashy lights and attractions of the Fremantle district with its heritage and café culture to lure us in.
If you cast your net a bit wider though you’ll find that Bicton is a treasure trove of riverside activities to explore or just relax in. Bicton rivals Kings Park for its ability to provide bushland activities in the metropolitan area that appeal to all ages and abilities. In some ways it’s better than Kings Park because Bicton has jetties!