Monument Hill Loop
Start - Monument Hill, Knutsford St
Length - 2.4km (Loop)
Rating - Green
Terrain - Pavement, Grass
Vertical Climb - 41m
Time - 1 hour
Signed - No
Date Walked - 13th April 2020
Best Time - All Year Round
Traditional Custodians - Wajuk People
Directions - Monument Hill is located to the east of the centre on Fremantle. To get there take High St east and turn right at the Swanbourne St traffic lights. There is limited street parking on Knutsford St or alternatively you can park on top of the hill by taking the entry road off High St.
The Walk - With the coastal dunes of the Swan Coastal Plain running parallel from the Indian Ocean all the way to the Darling Range, we are lucky to have a high point close to the coast to take in the epic Western Australian sunsets. Monument Hill is Fremantle is one of those places and apart from being a great vantage point, it houses the Fremantle War Memorial that hosts the annual Anzac Day ceremony. Having lived right opposite the park for a year in my mid 20s, I love this spot and enjoyed many a sunset from both my balcony and the grass of the public park. Still calling Fremantle my home, I decided to create an unofficial walk trail taking in Monument Hill and the nearby Stevens Reserve as the area is really pretty with lots of history and character.
With that in mind I picked Easter Monday as a time to do the walk with Caris and the doggos because the travel restrictions had meant our plans down south had to be scrapped. Parking outside of our old place brought back some memories and I decided we would do a double visit to the war memorial to take in the great views. There were a few people enjoying the park and taking in the sweeping vistas of Fremantle Port, Garden Island and Rottnest Island. Checking out the impressive obelisk that forms the main centrepiece of the war memorial, it certainly draws your thoughts to the diggers who served in WWI and fought at Gallipoli. There are several other memorials within the park dedicated to soldiers who died in WWII and other wars Australia fought in with the bronze entry gates from the High St end being the biggest of the additions. There is something very special about being on this spot with a mix of history, the sight of the working port below (always love seeing the Fremantle Giraffes) and the stunning views out to the boundless extremes of the Indian Ocean. The plan was to return to this spot for the sunset so after a quick look around we headed down the grass to the corner of Knutsford and Swanbourne St to begin the walk.
When we used to live here we would occasionally take dogs home for the night from the Shenton Park Dog Refuge and this was my preferred route for going on walks. Now we have our own two muppets, I thought I'd recreate this walk for the website and given they've installed an agility course at the local park, it's perfect for those looking to add something extra to their usual dog walk. Heading south along Swanbourne Street, I really enjoy the mix of old and new houses with some quirky features along the way. Our favourite was always the metal sculpture of a tree on the gate of one house but it was nice to return and see some of the newest additions to the street fully completed. There are a couple of narrow but tall houses that were being built when we lived there and the flowing shapes I think are designed to mimic the curves of a boat hull. The effect is really cool and I think adds something different to the beautiful character houses found in the area. As with most houses in Fremantle, the gardens here are what I really enjoy. I love that people put in effort to create little green spaces, even in the tiniest of courtyards and I'm endlessly fascinated as I walk by at the little details of people's spaces.
Down the hill along Swanbourne Street is a place where the doggos can stretch their legs and you can feel the softness of grass under your feet. Stevens Reserve is a large off lead dog exercise area (unless there are sporting events taking place) and has some of the nicest grass I've ever felt. Large pine trees dominate the edges of Swanbourne Street and provide a majesty to the otherwise flat landscape. We elected to do a lap of the reserve and headed east towards the views over the old industrial area looking towards Booyeembara Park and the twin golf courses. On the south eastern edge of the reserve is where you'll find the dog agility course with plastic tunnels, wooden bridges and jump throughs (I'm using their technical names of course). Owning one dumb dog (Kit) and one stubborn dog (Sadie) plus having no treats on us, it was difficult to get them to do any of the obstacles. With a bit of movie magic we managed to get Sadie up onto the wooden up and down piece long enough for a photo but that was about as interested as they were going to get without being bribed. It was lovely afternoon so there were plenty of people around (maintaining correct physical distancing) but our dogs are far from the most social creatures so we kept moving towards the exit on the corner of Swanbourne and Stevens Street. From here we would walk west along Stevens Street and then head north along Solomon Street back towards Monument Hill. Again there is plenty to enjoy on these quiet streets with plenty of character homes and beautiful gardens.
Despite the setting sun out to the west getting closer to the horizon, I was taking my time along here photographing the flowers, cool features and even a pretty elaborate web created by a local Orb Spider. One really fun item as you get closer to Monument Hill is a big old sea mine that has been restored and now serves as a feature to a succulent garden that has an extensive array of plants to admire. I love little touches like this and it really brightens up what would be an otherwise normal dog walk. With the sun in a good position now for viewing the sunset, we passed our old apartment block and mused over our time there before heading up to the top of Monument Hill to get a good spot to photograph the sunset. There were quite a few more people here now as it's a very popular location to chill out and enjoy a famous Western Australian sunset. It wasn't initially shaping up to be a great one but you never know with these things so we stuck around and shifted spots to get in the different features of the port. One large feature docked in port was the infamous Artania cruise ship, a stranded vessel that was allowed refuge in Fremantle Port after calling in that they had several cases of COVID-19 onboard. With strict measures in place, WA agreed to help and there was a heartwarming sign on the side of ship thanking Fremantle for their kindness. As the sun slowly set, the colours changed from violent yellows to a softer pink and blue. Happy with the bounty of photos we headed back to the car after a nice stroll down memory lane.
Final Thoughts - Fremantle has been home for a long time now and I love any opportunity to explore every nook and cranny. This walk however was very familiar and already a pretty popular area for tourists and locals alike.
A great excuse to load up the dogs and family to get in some exercise and watch the setting sun, this little loop should leave you feeling relaxed and happy with life.
A great connection of Fremantle history, the natural forces that shape us and the everyday lives of Fremantilians (yes, that is what I call us), I can highly recommend this walk for anyone looking for something to do on a lazy afternoon.
Make sure to let me know how your visit was and tag any pictures you post on Instagram with #thelifeofpy
Get out there and experience it!!
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