John Forrest National Park
Just a short 30 minutes’ drive from Perth on the edge of the Darling Ranges you will find a nature lovers dream and Perth’s favorite forest playground. Imagine a national park where you can have a beer with a kangaroo, visit a historic railway line, and hike to 2 waterfalls all in one day. There is plenty to see and do here for everyone whether you are coming for a short visit or staying for a full day of exploring.
The John Forrest National Park is actually one of Australia’s oldest conservation areas and western Australia’s first national park dating all the way back to November 1900. There is a great deal of history within the park that is tied to both aboriginal culture as well as the famous historic Eastern Railway that ran through the park until 1960. Many historic sites at the park are related back to the historic railway line including the famous Swan View Tunnel and the Old Hovea Train Station.
There are many natural attractions that draw visitors from far and wide to this very national park. Firstly the park houses two waterfalls that flow in winter and spring and are best visited after a large rainfall. Hovea Falls features a cascade down a large granite sheet while the National Park Falls drops sharply over a 20 meter sheer rock face. Among the jarrah and marri forest you will also find a large variety of native mammals, birds, reptiles, and even frogs so keep your eyes peeled as you walk through the park. If visiting in spring you will be in for an amazing display of Western Australia’s famed wildflowers, with over 500 species found in the park.
There are plenty of walking trails within the park for you to explore and enjoy. The trails are varied from 300 meters all the way to the 15 kilometer Eagle View Trail. This trail is a wonderful half day exploration of the area and takes you on a circuit that features multiple city view lookouts as well as an abundance of wildflowers in springtime. Another notable trail is the Railway Heritage Trail but be sure to bring a head torch if you are scared of the dark. This trail runs through the 340 meter long Swan View Tunnel which was built in 1893 for the railway line. This trail is full of railway heritage from wooden trestle bridges to the remains of the national park station and of course the iconic swan view tunnel.
Lastly another famed reason to visit the park actually has very little to do with the park itself and even includes enjoying a nice cold beverage, whether it be a beer for the adults or a soft drink for the little ones. The John Forrest Tavern is there to quench your thirst but it actually has gathered fame for a very different reason. The tavern is actually home to several local kangaroos who are very friendly and very mellow. If you sit out in the beer garden chances are they will come right up to you for a little visit. Manky is the most famous resident of the tavern, he is a very large male that hangs around so frequently he was one of the few kangaroos honored with his very own name.
It is no surprise why this park has been one of Perth’s Favorite parks for over 100 years. Where else can you have a beer with a kangaroo and hike to epic vistas looking out over the city of Perth. So pack up a picnic or BBQ and bring your friends and family out for a fun day of exploring. With such a wide variety of attractions and amenities within the park it is the perfect spot to bring the family or large groups of people or just come on your own to enjoy a bush walk and reconnect with nature.