Kings Park is a 4.06 square kilometre (1,003 acres) park located on the western edge of the central business district (CBD) in Perth, Western Australia. The park is a mixture of grassed parkland, botanical gardens and natural bushland on Mount Eliza with two thirds of the grounds conserved as native bushland. With panoramic views of the Swan River and Darling Range, it is home to over 324 native plant varieties, 215 known indigenous fungi species and 80 bird species. It overlooks the city as well as Perth Water and Melville Water on the Swan River. (Picture taken from Mt Eliza):
It is the largest inner city park in the world and the most popular visitor destination in Western Australia, being visited by over five million people each year. The park is larger than New York's Central Park which is 3.41 square kilometres (I have only shown a few of the scenes in and around the park and several of the memorials. To show them all would mean I'd have to split this post into at least three and I doubt you would want to see all of it. There are statues of famous people, guns to commemorate different wars, beautiful walks and various recreation areas. It is wonderful that this park was set aside for the people of Perth and visitors to enjoy).
Besides tourist facilities King's park contains the State War Memorial, the Royal Kings Park Tennis club and a reservoir. The roads are tree lined with individual plagues dedicated by family members to Western Australian service men and women who died in World War 1 and World War 11.
Prior to European settlement and exploration Mount Eliza was known as Mooro Katta and Kaarta Gar-up, the Aboriginal names given by the Nyoongar inhabitants. The area has been an important ceremonial and cultural place for the Whadjuk tribe who had campsites and hunting grounds in the area.
At the base of the southern face is a freshwater spring, known as Kennedy Spring (Goonininup) which provided year-round water for the native inhabitants. The spring was noted by the first European visitors to the area, Willem de Vlamingh's party, on 11 January 1697. The Lieutenant Governor of the Swan River Colony, James Stirling, chose the townsite of Perth for this reason - the only local spring. He named the area Mount Eliza for Mrs Ralph Darling.
The Colony's first Surveyor General, John Septimus Roe, recognised the equalities of the area and tried to protect it, by identifying the land to be set aside for public purposes. By 1835 Roe's protection was overturned and the first shipment of five tonnes of jarrah was cut on Mt Eliza, becoming the colony's first export. Logging in the area continued until 1871 when Roe's successor, Malcolm Fraser, persuaded the then Governor Weld to set aside 1.75 square km as public reserve. In 1890 this was enlarged to its current size by Sir John Forrest, the first president of the Board appointed under the Parks and Reserves Act 1895. Forrest planted the first tree, a Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophlla), and other trees were introduced to the site, Eucalyptus ficifolia and exotic species of Pinus; few of these were successful due to lack of irrigation.
Officially opened on 10 August, 1895, the park was original called Perth Park and was renamed King's Park in 1901 - the apostrophe was later dropped This was to mark the ascension to the British throne of Kind Edward VII and the visit to Perth of George, the Duke of Cornwall and Princess May. One of the major roads through the park, May Drive is named in the Princess's honour. (This is May Drive):
The Mount Eliza reservoir provided water to the local area, and still remains, but by arrangement of the lease was partly diverted for us in the park itself. This was largely allocated, after 1919, to the memorial oaks and planes lining May Drive. Their eventual failure led to their substitution with Eucalyptus bortyoides and Eucalyptus calophylla var. rosea.
Kings Park was featured in 2006 on the American reality show The Amazing Race, where teams collected a clue from in front of the War Memorial.
In early 2009, the south-western area of the park was severely damaged by fire, which was suspected to have been deliberately lit. (We unfortunately do appear to have a number of firebugs in and around Perth).
The State War Memorial is located on Mount Eliza overlooking Perth Water. It comprises the Ceneotaph, Court of Contemplation, Flame of Remembrance and Pool of Reflection. The Anzac Day dawn service is held at 5.30 a.m. on 25th April each year and is attended by more than 40000 people. There is also an official service held at 11 a.m on 11th November each year for Remembrance Day.
The road verges through Kings Park have been planted with eucalyptus trees, and in front of each tree is a plaque honouring those service men who died during action or as a result of wounds received there are over 1100 of these plaques. Originally proposed by Mr Arthur Lovekin, owner of the *Daily News, the idea was based on the Avenue of Honour in Ballarat, Victoria. Originally families were required to pay 10 shillings to cover the cost of the plantings; ex-servicemem provided the necessary labour to plant the trees. In 1920 Lovekin and board member Sir William Loton each donated 500 pounds to clear and plant Forrest Avenue with sugar gums. After Lovekin died the Kings Park board renamed Forrest Avenue to Lovekin Drive. (*The Daily News was an afternoon newspaper published in Perth which went out of circulation a number of years ago. It was very popular for a daily column written by Kirwan Ward and cartoons by Paul Rigby. It contained local news as well as general news).
(Lovekin Drive showing the trees with the plaques in front):
Originally planted with red-flowering gums in 1898 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee and added to in 1929 to celebrate the State Centenary - the gums were affected by patch canker disease in the 1930. It was in 1938 that the lemon-scented gum trees Corymbia citriodora) now lining the avenue were planted to honour the dignitaries of the Western Australia Centenary, organising committee.
Pioneer Women's Memorial
A beautiful memorial to the pioneer women of Western Australia with the statue of a woman carrying a small child in the middle of the lake and a beautiful fountain. (I am proud to say that my mum's name is included in this memorial).
This memorial is dedicated to the 16 Western Australian victims, the injured and those who helped the survivors of the terrorist bombings on 12 October, 2002 in the resort town of Kuta on the Indonesian island of Bali, were 202 people were killed and 209 injured. The majority of the victims were foreign tourists, including 88 Australians. This memorial was officially dedicated on 12 October, 2003 and honours the courage and support provided by many individual volunteers and organisations following the incident.
Built on the highest point of the park in 1966, the DNA Tower is a white 15m high double helix staircase that has 101 steps and was inspired by the double staircase in the Chateau de Blois in France. Its design resembles the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecule. The paving below the DNA Tower is made with stones sent from 11 towns and 80 shires in Western Australia. (Not long after the tower was built Phil and Steven climbed it one day while Karen and I waited near the car).
I may return to Kings Park at a later date just to show more of the different attractions there. You certainly need to spend more than a day there if you want to see everything.