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.
When you visit Australia, you want to see kangaroos. Don’t ask me why, but you do. It is the iconic animal of that country and they are very common and you see signs everywhere warning of the possibility of kangaroos crossing, just as in Canada we have signs warning of deer crossing.
But actually spotting a kangaroo is not as common as you would think. When we were visiting our daughter and her fiancé in May, we didn’t actually see a kangaroo until we visited the Margaret River area. The first one we saw was road kill. In fact, the risk of hitting a kangaroo in wilderness areas is high enough that many people fit their vehicles with roo bars – sort of like cow catchers for kangaroos to protect the vehicle from damage. Our daughter reported a work colleague had her car badly damaged from hitting a roo a couple of weeks ago.
But we did see some troops of kangaroos over the next few days in Margaret River, and on our wine country tour we spotted a number of them hopping across the road ahead of us. We even spotted a couple out in the vineyards.
And in Perth, you can spot them in open fields occasionally, and on golf courses. Recently we were going to family dinner and spotted quite a few in a field. Jamie pulled a u-ey and parked nearby and we got our first close look at them. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera handy.
But if you really want to get up close and personal with kangaroos, I really recommend the Caversham Wildlife Park near Perth. It’s about half an hour northeast of the city in the town of Whiteman.
Our daughter took us there recently and we had a wonderful time. The park is home to many of the species indigenous to Australia. The privately owned and operated park receives no government funding. It charges an admission fee of $27 for adults, $12 for children and $19 for seniors.
The park is divided into various sections, each featuring different types of animals. And there are special presentations to make your visit even more enjoyable. But the highlight for us, and probably for most people, are the kangaroos. There are a lot of them. You enter the kangaroo exhibit area through double gates, each about twenty feet apart. Sort of an airlock to keep kangaroos from sneaking out as visitors enter.
You actually get up close and personal with the kangaroos. You can pet them (but no touching joeys or the pouches) and feed them. There is a large bin filled with food pellets for that purpose. The kangaroos are very tame, quite used to humans.
We were there in February and a good number of the roos had joeys. We saw a lot of tails and legs sticking out of pouches, and the occasional head as well. As often as not, the roos are completely tucked inside, not visible except for the bulge in mom’s tummy.
The park has a lot of birds on display from all over Australia, everything from cockatoos and budgerigars to black swans, owls, ducks and other water fowl and even an eagle, a buzzard and a couple of emus. The enclosures are, for the most part, quite large and spacious with netting over the top to keep the birds from flying away.
We went in the reptile house, but it had frogs, lizards and pythons. It did not have any of Australia’s indigenous poisonous snakes of which there are a great many. I have seen the poisonous dugite three times in the wild now. One of them was this morning, a small juvenile less than a foot long slithering across our path as we walked the dog. These juveniles are considered aggressive and dangerous despite their small size.
Meanwhile back at Caversham, our schedule told us there was a special 2 PM up close showing of wombats and friends. So we headed over. Several curators were there with different animals which we could see up close and sometimes touch. These included a bobtail lizard, a couple of owls, a kookaburra, a python, a bettong, and, of course, a rather fat and sleepy wombat.
We had seen the bobtail lizard in the wild a few times and told to avoid getting too close as they have a very strong jaw like a snapping turtle. But this fellow was raised in captivity and quite used to people and not dangerous.
We couldn’t touch the owls but they sat on perches less than two feet away so we could look at them up close. But we could touch the python, though Sarah and Janis declined.
A curator sat on a bench with the large wombat on her lap, lying back quite contendedly. He was also raised in captivity and quite used to people. I asked her (the curator, not the wombat) about the critter and she said they could be quite fierce in the wild. They can run fast and their chief defence is a bony plate on their lower back. They have only a stubby tail.
This bony plate is quite hard and the wombat has strong leg muscles. If pursued, usually by a dingo which is its main predator, the wombat will wait until the right moment and smash its bony back into the dingo’s face, breaking its nose.
Wikipedia relates that the wombat will often duck into a burrow and when the dingo moves its head over its hind quarters to get at its fleshy upper back, the wombat will thrust with its legs, smashing the dingo’s skull against the ceiling of the burrow killing it.
Our wombat looked more like sleepy-eyed Joe than a fierce animal. Looks can be deceiving.
Later in the afternoon, the koalas were on display. We had passed the enclosure earlier, but you could only see through a window. Now the koala pen was open and we could venture in. Several curators were on hand to talk about the animal and there were two we were allow to pet. Their fur is not as soft as you might expect. It was actually a bit coarse. But they are cute all the same. Several were sound asleep in their eucalyptus trees.
We saw many other animals that day including a small crocodile, a quokka, a quoll (Aussies seem to like the letter Q), wallabies, a Tasmanian devil, giant flying fox bats and a couple of dingos. All in all, a great excursion.
And if you want to make a full day of it, there are other attractions nearby including three transport museums, one devoted to tractors, children’s play areas, an operating vintage tram and shops and a restaurant.