Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia.
Photo by Melody

Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia.

By Jean-Jacques Segalen (jjacques)January 31, 2014
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As you all know I always keep my promises, so today I will take you on a visit to Kings Park which I promised when I introduced the city of Perth. And thanks to Carrie you can now click on the images and get larger ones; enjoy!

Gardening picture
 You now have some idea of the natural wonders found in the city of Perth and we are going to wander through the largest one today. This is neither the outback nor tough bush-walking but I still recommend having good walking shoes, a matching hat and a bottle of water. Not much up and down nor stony trails like when we frolic on Reunion but this is still Australia, there may be snakes and spiders waiting in ambush and the sun is fierce no matter if it is softened by a nice sea breeze. Water is needed; you will not find billabongs in the park (you guys not familiar with Aussie words? Check it out then!) and if you get lost it may take a little time to find your way out, so stick with me! The dimensions are quite large for an urban park:  406 hectares (1004 acres or 4 060 000 square meters...). What is more surprising is that this huge park is found in the heart of the city which sky-scrappers can be seen through the tree's branches. Although the city itself is quite new (it was named with its actual name in 1829 and the park was named in 1899), the area has been used by humans for a much longer time. It was called Boorloo and inhabited by people known as Noongar, a part of the aboriginal people who arrived in Australia some 40,000 to 60,000 years ago! Further history and relations between the Noongar people and the white settlers ended in the latest taking over as in many other countries of the world.
 
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         Mount Eliza and lawn
      Nice informative labels
      And Toonia ciliata...
 
Kings Park is located on a 62m (186 feet) elevation called Mount Eliza, overlooking the business center and Swan estuary. The first use of this area by Europeans was as shooting range for the security services between 1860 and 1870. In 1872 some 174 hectares were reserved for recreational purposes, enlarged to 400 hectares in 1890 and made into a public park as early as 1895. In 1901, it was named Kings Park in order to celebrate the accession of Edward VII as King of England. Citizens of Perth soon began enjoying the park, walking in the shade of the large trees, parading on horseback along the various alleys, having picnics, playing croquet, balls or tennis. Terraces and gazebos cleverly scattered here and there offered resting places and good observational points to watch the sail boat regatta held on the water beneath.

Nowadays it is pretty much the same, people come with families to relax, enjoy the cooling air at night, meet mates and have a cold beer. During summer, concerts and shows are held, an open air cinema is also working so as to take advantage of the wonderful climate. The original forest was mostly large trees which have been logged (Eucalyptus marginata, the ‘jarrah', E. gomphocephala, the ‘tuart', Corymbia calophylla, the ‘marri') and although a couple large trees still remain the global vegetation is more open woodland with sheoaks (Casuarinas spp.) and Banksias. As about one third of the whole park has been developed, there is still ample wildlife in the 270 hectares left to untamed vegetation with some 450 species of native plants and 80 bird species.
 
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      One of the various ponds
      Artificial stream
      And nature-like billabong!
 
The State War Memorial on top of Mount Eliza is used for commemorations of past wars and Honor Avenues give credit to men killed during such events. Other memorials in the shape of statues, basins and waterfalls are scattered within the park and keep vivid memories of people who have had a role in the State. Regular free tours are held by park guides three times a day and provide ample data regarding the history of the place, flora and fauna as well as many stories and anecdotes.
 
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      One of the many Banksia           another one
    Lottery Federation Walkway
 
There are several things to do and see in Kings Park besides strolling along the alleys and enjoying the views. One of them is the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, running since year 2003 and a much appreciated thing. It consists of a 620m (1860 feet) long bridge, made of iron and glass, culminating at 52 m (126 feet) high. Open from 9am to 5pm it offers a great view upon the Swan and Canning rivers as well as a view on the trees at an angle that usually only tree climbers can enjoy! The bridge also features original aboriginal art, metal drawings and interpretive panels. Several play areas can be found, for children as well as for grown-ups, the DNA tower can be climbed all the way to its 101 steps so as to offer a neat view on the Park and even unto Rottnest Island where we may venture some other day.
 
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     Delicious variagated tree
      Clearly labelled!
      Same tree from the back
 
In case the walking and flowers smelling gets you tired and thirsty you can of course stop at the Fraser's restaurant, or the café on Fraser Avenue and enjoy a cold drink while looking at the lawn, trees and passersby. A shop sells various gizmos and souvenirs as well as a choice of books on gardens, horticultures, Australian flora and fauna and many related subjects. The visitors information center situated in the very same area will provide all the data and necessary maps, supplied by charming volunteers who can counsel and direct you depending on your points of interest and time to be spent visiting.
 
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        'Galah' feeding on the lawn
       Ibis up an Eucalyptus tree
      One of the many water-bird.
 
This short walk is only an appetizer for real hikers and nature lovers, you have to go over and experiment yourself, although I tried to bring back some of the spirit of the Park its true atmosphere has to be directly felt. I will nonetheless take you soon to a visit of the Botanical Garden set within Kings Park, you will love it!
 


  About Jean-Jacques Segalen  
Jean-Jacques SegalenI am a Parisian born professional horticulturist specialized in tropical seeds producing, living on Reunion island (just between Mauritius and Madagascar) for 22 years . I spend a lot of time gathering seeds in the wild, the ones I do not grow that is. Also a dedicated Tai-Chi practitioner and fully certified arborist-tree surgeon Just released my first book on tropical plants and fruits, check it at http://www.barbadine.com/pages/livrejjGB.html

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Discussion about this article:
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Another treat MargaretK 11 25 Feb 3, 2014 4:46 AM
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