If anyone asks me where to take overseas visitors in Perth, I say John Forrest National Park.
Not only is this the best place in Perth, if not the state, to get up close and personal with our favourite wildlife, the kangaroos, it also provides the perfect bush escape.
Established in 1900, after the state’s first premier, John Forest National Park is West Australia’s oldest national park and remains one of Perth’s favourite day trip destinations.
Set among Jarrah and Marri Trees, most of the park remains in its natural state and is a top spot for walks and picnics.
Beers and Kangaroos
First things first. John Forrest National Park is home to a group of very chilled out kangaroos – and a tavern. Surprisingly, the two go very well together.
Stroll to the back of the Tavern, which is located near the main picnic area and you’ll find the roos hanging out in the beer garden almost any time of the day.
Also a regular at feeding time is this gorgeous Bandicoot. Usually, elusive and timid creatures, this little fella is happy to get amongst it with the kangaroos and is a pleasure to observe.
Picnics and BBQs
From the main turn off, follow the signs to the picnic area and you’ll find an abundance of beautiful spots with BBQs and tables.
Stroll down to Jane Brook Dam and find your place at the water’s edge or take up residence in one of the charming wooden huts.
This is the kind of place where you get to climb boulders, jump over creeks, build cubby houses out of tree branches and generally channel the inner wild child.
The park is home to two waterfalls – Hovea and National Park falls. Both are subject to rain falls but a very pretty sight when the water does cascade over the granite rock.
The 700 metre drop National Park Falls are located 1 km from the main picnic area and can be reached along the Railway Reserve Heritage Trail. Hovea Falls are a 800m walk from Jane Brook Dam.
The best time to view the waterfalls are from July to September.
Walk and Bike Trails
John Forest National Park is home to some of Perth’s walking trails of varying length.
The 15km Eagle View Trail is the longest of the hiking trails found in the park. The circuit trail offers plenty of spectacular city views as well as an abundance of wildflowers during spring.
To read more about the Eagle View Trail, find an excellent overview of the trail here.
There’s also the 2.2km Glen Brook Dam Walk and if you’d rather bike than hike, you can cycle along the 82km Railway Heritage Trail.
Swan View Tunnel
The 340 metre long Swan View Tunnel was built in 1893 by West Australia’s Engineer-in-Chief, C.Y O’Connor. Interestingly, until the sinking of the Perth’s railway in 2007, this was West Australia’s only ‘true’ railway tunnel.
The tunnel is part of the Railway Heritage Trail and can be walked or cycled through. Bring a torch, especially if you’re with kids, it’s eerily dark in there!
Wildlife and Wildflowers
John Forrest National Park is home to a wide range of wildlife and wildflower species, including some that declared rare. The park has over 90 species of bird, as well as possums, bandicoots, reptiles and frogs.
There park also has over 500 different species of wildflowers located within the national park. These can be seen in spring and include Banksias, Grevilleas, Blue Lechenaultia and Kangaroo Paws.
Note: There is a $12 entry fee per vehicle to the National Park.
Have you visited John Forrest National Park – what was your favourite things to do?
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