Kings Park is a fabulous urban park sitting on the western edge of the Central Business District of Perth, Australia on Mount Eliza. It’s just a short walk from downtown but there is also lots of parking.
It’s a large park comprising 4.06 square kilometres or 1003 acres. Like Vancouver’s Stanley Park which is about the same size, it is a multiple use park with much of it wilderness. The lower area features a large children’s park which includes many replicas of Australian dinosaurs. We entered the park near here which borders on the university district.
This area has a lake and a children’s playground as well as the dinosaurs. It is a popular destination for school outings as well as for families. Large signs describe these giant beasts.
A network of roadways connects the various parts of the park and along the roads are eucalyptus trees planted to commemorate Australia’s fallen warriors. A plaque marks each tree with the name and details of one of these soldiers. Over 1600 of these plaques honor the war dead.
The upper part of the park stands on cliffs overlooking the Swan River and command a panoramic view of the city. There are restaurants and a convention center as well as spacious lawns and a war memorial.
The upper part of the park also is the entrance to the Western Australian Botanic Garden. This is an 18 hectare area within the park which features over 2000 species of Western Australian plant life as well as species from the rest of Australia.
Signs throughout the garden explain the flora on display as well as some of the history of Western Australia. Along the trail you pass under a high footbridge. On the return route you can take this bridge to get another excellent view of the Swan Valley.
Australian brushland is subject to periodic brush fires. There was a severe brush fire that affected a huge swath between Perth and Margaret River in January of 2016. It wiped out one small ton completely. And we encountered another brush fire when we visited Lancelin. Kings Park has also had brush fires over the years and many of the trees and shrubs in the botanic garden showed the effects of fire and the resilience of the plant life.
When we reached the end of the trail, we took an unpaved path back. It was narrow and a more adventurous as well as pristine route.
This led us back eventually to the footbridge, formally known as the Lotterywest Federation Walkway.
From the footbridge you get a superb view of the Swan Valley in all directions as well as a great view of the old historic Swan Brewery building below the cliffs. Originally built in 1838 as a sawmill, it was acquired by the brewery in 1877. It was redeveloped in the 1990s and reopened in 2001 as a multi-use facility that preserved the historic character of the building while housing restaurants and office space as well as 28 luxury apartments.
Among the plants on display is a magnificent old boab tree. This tree is noted for its very wide trunk.
Kings Park is a jewel in Perth’s landscape, one of the great urban parks in the world. Below are links to two additional photo galleries and other links of interest. If you are on the front page, just scroll on through for the photo galleries.
With a population of just over two million, Perth is Australia’s fourth largest city as well as the largest city and the capital of Western Australia. It was founded in 1829 as the administrative center for the Swan River Colony. Today it is a bustling modern city that headquarters most of the mining companies that are the mainstay of Western Australia’s economy.
Getting there from the suburbs is pretty easy as the Perth Metropolitan Region has an extensive modern rail transit system. Perth serves as a central hub with rail lines going out in five directions like spokes on a wheel. The system extends all the way from Butler in the North to Mandurah south of Perth, a distance of 109 kilometres and from Fremantle in the West to Midland in the East. You’ll find a bit more on the TransPerth rail system in my post about Mandurah.
While Perth Station is the main hub, if you want to visit the downtown, it may be better to get off at the Perth Underground Station. It’s only a few blocks from the main station but comes out right at the Murray Street Mall.
Perth has two pedestrian malls – streets from which vehicles are barred and pedestrians can walk around freely. They are parallel to each other and run three blocks from William Street to Barrack Street. These two malls form the central shopping district of Perth. You’ll find lots of shops and restaurants here. And buskers. Lots of them in the summer.
On our first visit in May 2015, there was a demonstration happening, a protest about aboriginal rights. Officers on horseback patrolled to keep order. The picture was taken from an elevated crosswalk at the midpoint of the mall. Northeast is an open plaza, Forrest Place, which has a large fountain you can walk through on a hot day as well as an interesting sculpture.
Proceeding northeast along the elevated walkway brings you to a pedestrian overpass that takes you to the main Perth Station.
Beyond Perth Station is an older section of the downtown which includes the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Across James Street from the art gallery is the Western Australia Museum which has been closed while a new museum is being constructed. But outside the museum is a fascinating children’s playground, an audio workshop. No swings or slides. Just xylophones and percussion instruments for kids to bang away on.
Down the street is an older section of town where you’ll find some old New Orleans style architecture, like the Brass Monkey Hotel. There are some modern plazas in the area as well.
Perth’s Youth Hostel is in this area and it is where my daughter stayed for a while on her first arrival in Perth.
Heading back over the tracks we head up Williams Street towards the Hay Street Mall. Williams Street has a number of excellent restaurants as well as a superb book store.
The Hay Street Mall and Murray Street Mall are connected by a couple of arcades, passageways with shops on each side, as well as a larger indoor mall called Carillon City. This mall features an actual carillon on the Hay Street side.
Hay Street Mall includes some of the more upscale shops including Pottery Barn. You’ll also find a sculpture of a busker doing a hand stand, hat by his side. But the most interesting thing on Hay Street is the London Court mall connecting Hay Street with St. Georges Terrace.
The mall is an open air affair that looks like an old London street. There are a variety of shops along both sides, including some excellent souvenir shops, one of which has a nice collection of hand carved boomerangs and digeridoos.
At either end of this mall are two statues, one of William Shakespeare and the other of Dick Whittington and his cat.
Heading towards Barrack Street you’ll pass an overhanging mirror, great for a selfie. And at the corner of Barrack and St. Georges you’ll see Stirling Gardens kitty corner. The entrance to this beautiful garden features a statue of Alexander Forrest, one of the early explorers of the region who also served as mayor of Perth.
More interesting are a few statues near the park just up St. Georges a bit, brass statues of a family of kangaroos.
Stirling Gardens itself is a beautiful garden that includes many native plants as well as a bamboo grove. I’ll include some pictures in a separate photo gallery. Behind the garden is the historic Supreme Court of Western Australia.
A little bit past the court and garden is the Barrack Street Jetty on the bank of the Swan River. This is the home of Swan Bells, more commonly known as the Bell Tower, a landmark 82.5 metres or 271 feet high. The tower was built at the end of the last century and opened in 2000 to celebrate the millenium. It came about as the result of a gift of the historic bells from St. Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, London in 1988 for Australia’s bicentenary celebrations.
The twelve St. Martin bells date from the 14th Century. They were recast during the reign of Elizabeth I and again in the mid-18th Century. They were due to be recast once more leading up to 1988. But, Wikipedia tells us, “instead they were tuned and restored at London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry and donated to Western Australia, on the initiative of local bellringer and businessman Laith Reynolds. The bells are known to have rung as the explorer James Cook set sail on the voyage that founded Australia.”
The bells stayed in storage as Perth did not have a belfry large enough to house them. They stayed in storage until the millennial project was decided on. Six more bells were added to the original twelve.
The tower is open to visitors for a fee but we haven’t toured it yet. However we did dine at one of the restaurants on the jetty.
The Swan River widens out to the size of a large lake at Perth. And during our first visit, a large part of the waterfront adjacent to the jetty was blocked off for a major redevelopment of the area, the Elizabeth Quay. When we returned in February 2016, the public spaces at the quay had just opened. They include a magnificent footbridge across the water of an artificial inlet, public squares and a children’s water park, currently closed for repairs as children recently got sick from the water.
Part of the area remains behind construction fences while commercial and residential construction continues. These include the centerpiece Ritz-Carlton Hotel and a luxury residential complex called The Towers. The project, when completed in 2018, will have nine buildings with 1700 residential apartments, 150,000 square meters of office space and 39,000 square meters of retail space.
Perth is a vibrant and exciting city to visit with shopping malls, restaurants and parks to visit and explore. We’ve been several times and will be back again. Perth is also home to the Perth Zoo in West Perth and to King’s Park, ranked as one of the world’s ten best urban parks in the world according to Trip Advisor in 2014. I’ll write about King’s Park in a separate post some time in the future. Meanwhile, check out the additional Photo Gallery for more pics. Click on the links or if you are on the main page, scroll on down.
The other day at family dinner we were talking about the upcoming visit of my wife’s sister and brother and his wife. We were discussing all the places in Western Australia we planned to take them – Margaret River, Rottnest Island, Fremantle, and the Caversham Wildlife Park to see kangaroos.
“Oh,” piped up Emma, “you can see a lot of kangaroos at the Pinnaroo Cemetery.” She went on to explain that the cemetery was in a park-like setting surrounded by wilderness and that it had beautiful paths for walking along and even had a cafe and small restaurant. Just drive around until you see some roos, park the car and take a look.
So we thought we would check it out yesterday. She was absolutely correct. The Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park is a beautiful park set in the midst of wilderness. It is very large. And yes, we saw a lot of kangaroos, at least fifty of them, probably closer to seventy-five or a hundred.
Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park is located within easy travelling distance from downtown Perth. Just head north on the Mitchell Freeway (Highway # 2) and take the Whitfords exit. The cemetery comes up almost immediately on your left. It’s about a twenty minute drive from downtown.
The park’s website says it is the most environmentally responsible cemetery in all of Australia. “The park, which received its first burial in 1978, has been developed and maintained as a natural bushland cemetery planted only with native species. No monuments are permitted but each grave is marked by a flat bronze plaque.”
We drove along the road until we saw three kangaroos, so we parked and got out of the car. We watched them for a bit and then they hopped off to the other end of the field they were in. We then headed over to a park-like area of the cemetery and walked along the shore of an artificial lake. The area was beautifully landscaped with long open grassy spaces, almost like the fairway of a golf course. Along the shore we saw many memorials, many festooned with flowers. We didn’t see any roos here though.
But after a ten minute walk, we spotted some through the trees on our left. The path also turned in that direction so we followed it along and as we emerged through the trees to the other side we saw about three dozen kangaroos, all grazing among the cemetery plots.
While we enjoyed seeing the kangaroos at the Caversham Wildlife Reserve, these kangaroos were special. They were actual wild kangaroos. They looked different than the Caversham roos. The zoo roos looked rather lazy and dusty. Almost zoned out. Mind you, we were at Caversham during an earlier part of the day when roos are usually sleeping.
The wild roos emerge to feed after it starts to cool off around five in the afternoon. They are much more active, grazing and occasionally bounding along. I love watching them move. They have a certain grace to their movements. The wild roos also had a sleeker coat – darker and glossier. Healthier looking.
And driving through Pinnaroo Valley Memorial Park doesn’t cost you a dime. Although you get to see more than roos at Caversham – still worth a visit. But if it’s just roos you want to see, drive through the Pinnaroo park.
After a half hour or so of watching the roos, we headed for Hillarys Boat Harbour which is a short drive away and had dinner at one of the fine restaurants there. Then a short walk along the pier to see the sunset. All in all, a great afternoon.
For Valentine’s Day, my wife and I decided to take a day trip to Mandurah and stay overnight. We had never been there before so didn’t know what to expect. What we found was beautiful city of waterways, canals, parks and restaurants.
Getting there is easy. Mandurah is part of the greater Perth area which extends from Mandurah in the south to Yanchep and Two Rocks to the north. The TransPerth transit system covers most of that area. The rapid transit electric trains run in five directions from Perth like the spokes of a wheel. The northern line ends at Butler, not far beyond Mindarie.
We usually catch the train at Joondalup but Sunday our daughter and her fiancé were off on a trip to Ikea so they dropped us near there at the Stirling Station. Now weekends and holidays are the time to travel on TransPerth. They have what is called a Family Rider pass. For just $12.10, you and your family (up to seven people though only two can be standard fare – the other five must be children or seniors) can travel all day on the transit system. So for $12.10, my wife and I could travel all the way to Mandurah, 72 kilometres from Perth.
After switching trains in Perth we rolled on the our destination. The TransPerth electric trains are amazingly quiet. No clickety clack of the wheels, a smooth ride all the way.
When we arrived in Mandurah, which is Western Australia’s second largest city with a population of just over 83,000, we hopped a bus to the city center where our hotel was located. We stayed at an older hotel called the Atrium Resort. It was comfortable, though not a first class hotel. It is a bit older and could use some upgrading. But for us it was perfect. The location was fabulous – right smack in the hub of activity that is the waterfront.
We checked in and dropped off our knapsack, then walked the short distance to the boardwalk. The town hall is on the end and just past is a visitor’s center and a long park, the Eastern Foreshore, which was festooned with small tents for a craft fair and carnival. We decided to save that for later and turned onto the boardwalk. There we saw people aboard a small cruise boat run by Mandurah Cruises. The boat was to leave in twenty minutes so we asked where it went and what it cost.
It was the 1 PM sailing and it was a half hour longer than the usual hour long cruise as it included a stop to pick up optional lunches. The tickets were $22 each for seniors so we said, “Heck yeah, let’s go!” We bought a fish and chip lunch to split for $12 as well. The boat had a licensed bar aboard so we could get drinks with lunch too.
The map above should help locate the places I’ll mention. You can zoom in and move the map around as needed.
The Peel Inlet channel runs to a large inland waterway which is almost a lake except it is salt water and connected to the ocean. Our cruise boat left the dock near Cicarello’s Restaurant and headed around Stingray Point to the entrance to the Mandurah Ocean Marina and docked by Nino’s Restaurant at Dolphin Quay to pick up the food. Then we headed back out to the channel. Along the way we passed some canals surrounded by apartment buildings – the little Venice area.
Back in the channel, we headed towards the entrance to a series of man-made canals surrounded by million dollar homes. But before we got there, dolphins were spotted. We had been told sightings were a distinct possibility and we were pleased to find the boat attracting a pod of around six dolphins. They swam around the boat, under the boat and traversed in front of the bow. My wife and I were sitting right near the bow so we got a great view of the dolphins as they frolicked around.
A lad of four named Liam was standing beside us and he was very excited by the dolphins. A real chatterbox and quite bright, he was lively company on our trip. He was quite intrigued by my camera and asked to take pictures. His mom intervened when he got a bit too rambunctious, but we found him almost as entertaining as the dolphins.
After the dolphin encounter, we headed into the canals with the million dollar homes. The land used to be a farm – Sutton Farm, but was turned by developers into a luxurious and wealthy enclave within Mandurah. We coursed through the channels admiring the houses and their docked boats. Must be nice to have that much money, though we heard that real estate prices have dropped around twenty percent in Mandurah and many of these homes have lost a significant amount of their former value. We saw a few for sale including one by auction.
We emerged from the canals on the other side, a wider part of the channel leading to the Peel Inlet. There are nature preserves here and we saw black swans and pelicans as well as man-made osprey nesting posts.
We then headed back through the canals and back to port. A very enjoyable cruise and worth checking out on any visit to Mandurah.
After that we walked along the Eastern Fireshore checking out the vendor tents. It was pretty typical stuff. They did have camel rides at one location. But what caught my eye as we walked along was some activity in the water itself. We saw a guy on jet shoes flying high above the water. We walked on and got in for a closer look from a dock.
The jet shoes (actually called a jetboard but they look like a connected pair of shoes) are attached to a hose which is attached to the propulsion system of a jet ski. Jet skis suck water in the front and blast it out the back to move. They have quite a bit of power.
We watched the guy on the jetboard bob and weave and move all around. Looked like a heck of a good time. Flying around like Buck Rogers! I checked at their truck and they offer lessons for $149 for a half hour with discounts for two or more people. The company is called Jet X-treme. They’re only there on weekends. I didn’t want to do it right then but was pleased to learn they also offer their services at Hillarys Boat Harbour which is close to where we’re living in Ocean Reef. On my bucket list for sure!
We continued walking and spotted some kids jumping off the old Mandurah Bridge so we thought we’d cross the bridge to Hall Park. I filmed some of the kids jumping off the bridge. Oh to be 16 again! Looked like a hoot. Who cares about the signs saying no jumping off the bridge!
Hall Park has an interesting war memorial but we didn’t walk that far. We crossed, watched the jumpers for a while, then headed back. One of the interesting things about Australia is the many different forms of wildlife. We’re always pleasantly surprised to see cockatoos in the wild as we did on our walk back through the park.
We decided to visit the Dolphin Quay area. We walked over the footbridge and through the many interesting shops and small restaurants along the way. Then we made our way past the marina to the breakwater. That’s one very large breakwater!
We then circled around some apartments and back to the shopping area, back over the foot bridge, and off to the Oceanic Bar and Grill for dinner. We had an Asian sampler and and some pizza bread along with a bottle of New Zealand’s Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. A very tasty meal.
After that we walked through the Venetian Canal district and up around Stingray Point which has a very old and very large fig tree. We enjoyed a magnificent sunset and headed on.
We were pooped by then and decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel around 7:30 PM. All in all, a very enjoyable day in Mandurah.