Segway tours around the Mandurah's Eastern Foreshore are a new and novel way to experience this exciting waterside development.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt
Perhaps, like me, you have seen photos of segways and wondered how they operate. Well they are on two wheels, look a bit like old-fashioned upright mowers and you stand on them while they move you along. They are pre-charged with electricity and as non-polluters they are a great way to get around in an urban environment. They also allow you to traverse a fair distance without exertion.
I was a little nervous about this new experience. But as they looked solid and safe and allowed me to cover Mandurah's main tourist precincts in just over an hour I decided to give the new experience a go.
But most importantly who could resist the allure of gliding around this stunning area and looking out over the water towards sunset?
The company's name Jetextreme had me a little concerned. Looking at their website, I noticed they were a 'young' company and one of their other offerings was jet boarding, where you get to 'fly like Ironman' over the water propelling yourself up in the air.'
At 62 I am not into propelling myself into the air but not to be ageist, I don't think I was interested in doing so at 22 either.
Ben's first mission was to supply us with well fitting helmets. Then it was just only a small step up for womankind onto those Segway footpads. 'To move forward you press down with the front of your foot and to slow down you press down on your heels,'said Ben.'Then the handlebars allow you to veer slightly to the left or right.'
We started off in a grassed area. Ben showed us how to do a 360-degree turn. These devices have such an incredible turning circle that you can do this on the spot; a bit like twirling when you are dancing. And I must say there is something quite elegant about the whole manoeuvre.
Photos I had seen of other people on segways came to mind: a suited businessmen riding one in New York, a policeman in Malta directing traffic and even a Sunshine Coast policeman patrolling his beat. Apparently, if chasing criminals it is a lot faster and less tiring than running.
After quite a few practice sessions on how to stop safely, we were off, but still on the grass. Our first moves were weaving in and out of an avenue of trees, which were equidistant but a reasonable space apart. By the time we had accomplished this we were feeling quite confident.
We then started on the paths following Ben in single file. The segway is only about the same width as an average size person, so it doesn't take up any more room than if you were walking. And at this time in the afternoon the paths were not teeming with people in any case.
We moved at slow speeds. I don't believe the devices go over about 16 km/h max, but we never reached anything like that speed. No doubt this varies depending on the dynamics of the group.
Ben intimated that groups sometimes went a little faster. My much younger companion was also trying out segwaying for the first time so there were no dare-devil moves for her either, although she was a lot more confident than I was and gaily chatted to Ben while I followed up at the rear concentrating for all I was worth.
But it is a bit like after you master bike riding. What needed my full attention soon becomes an enjoyable and liberating experience. We were soon swishing, and gliding on the paths alongside Mandurah's stunning waterways as if moving upright on pair of wheels was perfectly normal.
Segways are perfect for covering a large area in a short time. And Ben led us through an extensive network of pathways, bridges, piazzas and boardwalks. We went along the edge of the foreshore, past the famous Ciccerellos and Simmo's Icecream, through the Keith Holmes Reserve.
The Boardwalk cafe strip was particularly exhilarating, as all the outside diners seemed to stop mid-bite to take a better look at the unusual sight of people on wheels. Little kids scampered to the dividers hanging over the edge for a better view with some even cheering us on.
In fact wherever we went people would often stop, let us pass and comment. 'Is it as easy as it looks? 'Oh, I'd like to try that."'Or, 'Must give that a go with my family.'
We did stop for photo opportunities where Ben would also give us a run down on the area. The most memorable stop being underneath the iconic Moreton Bay Fig outside the Sebel Hotel. This huge canopied tree is on a point with magnificent waterside views that make it a popular place for weddings.
The water twinkled golden with the dying rays of sunlight. We looked earnestly for dolphins, as with over 200 in the area it is highly likely you will see one or two pop up. But not on our watch, it seemed.
But never mind as there was a lot to see. As it was my first day in town I found the tour a great way to orientate myself for the rest of my stay.
We coasted alongside the Mandurah Ocean Marina past all the expensive white yachts bobbing on the blue waters. There was a little sandy white sandy beach where children played. The tall white apartment blocks looked stunning against the blue sky. Most had views over the water and I was surprised to learn that many were attractively priced.
Ben pointed out the large indoor waterfront market, and various cafes and restaurants, and I made a few mental notes of places to visit the next day.
The segway tour is available for those aged 12 and over. Only small groups are taken so this would be an ideal family activity, and one that could be quite cross-generational.
Our particular tour finished just near the Redmanna Waterfront Restaurant, the famous Gold Plate winner for Seafood Dining in Western Australia for 2015. While slightly upmarket especially at dinner time it is also surprisingly down to earth.
My companion and I wandered over there to sit on Redmanna's balcony and with cocktails in hands we watched the last remnants of the sun setting over the Mandurah waterways.
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