Sometimes it’s easy to forget how blessed we are living in places that have beautiful spaces, parks and nature reserves, (let alone democracy, freedom, civil rights and caramel crunch ice cream). I know there are things wrong with every nation and yes there are many, many issues in Australia that make you weep (not least our last few Prime Ministers, of every political persuasion), but sometimes it is worth reflecting on the good. Today we went for a walk in Kings Park, Perth and nope I didn’t miss the apostrophe, it was officially dropped from the name in the early 20th Century. Apart from the grammatical ambiguity, it is a remarkable place with a remarkable history.
Prior to the Europeans turning up the area was used by the local Nyoongar people who had campsites and hunting grounds on it stretching back some 40,000 years. That’s amazing enough, but the fact the park remains today is down to some incredible visionaries in the early colonial leadership. The protective measures started with John Septimus Roe, Western Australia’s first Surveyor General. He recognised how important the area was and ordered it set aside for public enjoyment. To be honest, in 1835, the settlers ignored his commands and started clearing the woods for export. Doubtless they would have completely laid waste to the place given enough time but Roe’s successor (Fraser) stopped them. In 1871 a large area was set aside as ‘Public Reserve’. That was a good start but Sir John Forrest decided it wasn’t enough and in 1890 he enlarged the area to 1000 acres, that’s bigger than Central Park, New York. His actions and decrees saved the park for future generations. Look him up, old Sir John was an interesting man.
Just to put it into context, the area is the highest point overlooking Perth city and the confluence of two rivers. Take a look at the photos below and you’ll see that as a real-estate vista it couldn’t be bettered. Yet this land was reserved as a park for all to enjoy before the turn of the 20th Century. Not bad for a generation normally associated with the complete exploitation of everything they could get their hands on.
So, thanks to those early pioneers, Kings Park remains to this day and for that we should all be extremely thankful. Not only does it host botanical gardens, wildlife in abundance, water gardens and open air performance venues, it’s also home to the official War Memorials of Western Australia. As well as the formal statues to be expected, the Park has one of the most beautiful memorials I’ve ever seen. Over 1100 eucalyptus trees line the verges of the Honour Avenues. In front of each is an individual, family sponsored plaque to the fallen of Western Australia. If a tree grows old and falls, a new one is planted in its place. An everlasting, living memorial to those who do not grow old.
I hope you enjoy the photos, just click on them to launch the gallery…