A Perth Swan River cruise is one of our favourite things to do when we have visitors as it’s a leisurely way to see some of Perth’s top sights from the water. As you depart the city center, you can admire Perth riverfront attractions like the Bell Tower and Kings Park, and glide past pretty suburbs to reach Fremantle, located where the river meets the Indian Ocean.
There’s the option to take the cruise one way, letting you explore Fremantle in your own time, or book a return ticket.
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The Swan River is highly important to the Noongar people as, in dreamtime, the river was made by the Waugal rainbow serpent.
Swan River Cruise Departure Point
The Swan River Cruise from Perth to Fremantle leaves from Barrack Street Jetty, in Elizabeth Quay. This jetty is 400m from the Elizabeth Quay train station and bus port.
The free Blue Cat drops off you off at Barrack Square and the ferry leaves from Mends Street Jetty in South Perth to Elizabeth Quay.
Swan River Cruise Perth to Fremantle
As you leave from Barrack Street jetty, you will have a wonderful view of the Bell Tower and Elizabeth Quay as you head out. South Perth is on the opposite side of the Swan River and where you will find Perth Zoo.
As you pass under the Narrows Bridge, which allows the freeway to cross the river, you can see Kings Park, one of the cities main attractions. The freeway continues to run alongside the river on the left, while Mounts Bay Road is on the right. This is where you will see The Old Swan Brewery, now apartments, commercial space, and a restaurant, which dates back to 1879. Dave’s grandad worked there, starting his job for Swan Brewery in February 1950. The brewery moved from these premises in 1966 and the building was redeveloped as a commercial precinct. The Traditional Landowners protested due to the site’s ancient and sacred Aboriginal heritage, but the claims were refused.
Keep a look out for the Eliza Sculpture and the famous Blue Boat House, the Crawley Boatshed. Have a look closely at Eliza as she is often seen wearing various outfits. No one is sure who dresses her but she has worn an assortment of clothes including cocktail dresses, Halloween costumes, Christmas outfits, and school uniforms.
Further along, also on the right, is the University of Western Australia, a world top100 university. This university, opened in 1913, it started with 184 students and now has more than 25,000 students enrolled from 100 countries.
Matilda Bay restaurant, Matilda Bay Reserve and Mounts Bay Sailing Club are further on. Matilda Bay restaurant is a lovely place for lunch or dinner overlooking the Swan River with the Perth city skyline in the background. Our favourite is dinner as there’s something special about seeing the city lights while dining on fresh fish alongside a bottle of Pierro Chardonnay. Matilda Reserve is a beautiful picnic spot, so for a cheaper option, grab some food and head here for amazing views.
Past the point is Nedlands, location of the Nedlands Yacht Club and The Perth Flying Squadrum Yacht Club. Opposite is the riverside suburb of Applecross.
From here onwards, you will be in awe of the luxury homes that front onto the river, some with a private jetty. Perth’s most expensive suburb is here, Dalkeith, with the median house price in May 2021 of A$2.56 million. Although Mosman Park, further along the river, broke the record in 2009 for Australia’s most expensive house, bought by Mineral Resources founder Chris Ellison for A$57.5 million. It still remains Perth’s most expensive home.
As you approach Point Walter, you will see the sand bar, or the spit as us locals call it. The river narrows here between Chidley Point and Blackwall Reach, where you can see the 8m limestone Blackwall Reach Cliffs. This is the deepest part of the Swan River and a popular place for cliff jumping, but people have died doing this, so a sign has now been erected to warn against it. If you want a close up view, consider a Cliffs and Caves Kayak Tour like this one that goes from East Fremantle into Bicton Bay and then along the cliff face.
Point Walter was previously known as Dyoondalup, meaning “place of white sand” and the Blackwall Reach area was known as Jennalup, “place of feet”. This area was traditionally a place for Aboriginal women and children.
As you near the end of the river, you pass East Fremantle with yacht clubs and The Left Bank, a popular “Sunday session” pub. The cruise boat docks at Victoria Quay, where you can easily walk into town or catch one of the free CAT buses.
Once you finished exploring Fremantle, you can take the train back into Perth.
Where to buy tickets for your Perth to Fremantle Swan River cruise
Tickets through Viator, offer free cancellation for ease of mind, along with lowest price guarantee. When checking the cost of tickets, Viator were the same price as booking direct, but with the free cancellation bonus. However, if booking a family ticket, it is cheaper to book direct.
See more Swan River cruise options, including return journeys, Swan Valley wine cruises, dinner or lunch cruises and much more by clicking on the Viator link below.
Other Things To Do in Perth and Western Australia
For more information on things to do and travel tips, read this ultimate Western Australia Travel Guide.
Accommodation in Fremantle
Fremantle has a range of accommodation to suit most budgets including hotels, apartments, bed & breakfast, motels, and backpackers.
My choice of where to stay in Fremantle:
The National Hotel
The highly-rated National Hotel has been refurbished to include 12 luxury styled ensuite rooms, a spectacular rooftop bar, and a restaurant right in the heart of Fremantle.
If you’ve read other posts, you will know that I book a lot of accommodation through Booking.com as they are normally the cheapest and offer free cancellation on most rooms.
Save money planning your holiday
Flights: We use different sites to get the best possible price for flights. Check matrix.itasoftware.com to get an idea of the cheapest dates, but you can’t book through this site. Compare the cost of flights with Kiwi.com and try different routes.
Accommodation: We mainly use Booking.com for accommodation as they consistently have the lowest rates with free cancellation on most properties. We also book through Stayz for private accommodation as they are usually cheaper than Airbnb.
Car Rental: To compare rental car company prices, we use Discover Cars, an award winning car rental comparison website. They offer competitive pricing in over 10,000 locations worldwide and are highly-rated.
Tours: We use third-party sites Viator, Get Your Guide & Klook due to their free cancellation policies, instant confirmation, price guarantees, and mobile ticketing. We occasionally book through Red Balloon too.
Mobile: Telstra has the best coverage in Western Australia. We buy our sims through Boost who provide 4G/4GX coverage on full Telstra 4G Mobile Network. With up to 82GB for 28 days or 240GB for 12 months, unlimited national calls & text, and international inclusions on selected plans, you’re sure to find the right prepaid SIM for you. See plans here.
Travel Insurance: Cover-More protects the travel dreams and experiences of more than 15 million people worldwide every year (including us!). Part of Zurich Insurance Group, they cover 22 countries across five continents with leading positions in the USA, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Ireland, India and New Zealand. Protect your trip against several COVID-19 scenarios during the current coronavirus pandemic.
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