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 Forrest 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.
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 in the Tavern’s beer garden.
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 at almost any time of the day. See more on the tavern and its resident kangaroos in this post here.
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.
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 Falls 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 an 800m walk from Jane Brook Dam.
The best time to view the waterfalls are from July to September.
John Forest National Park is home to some of Perth’s best walk trails. All trails begin from the main picnic area.
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, 300m loop Jane Brook Promenade, National Park Falls walk (2.5km loop trail), Wildflower Walk (4.5km), Christmas Creek Tree Walk (10.5km loop walk) and the John Forrest Bridle Trail (15km). There’s also the Railway Heritage Trail which runs through the park and can be cycled on as well.
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!
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. The huts offer shelter from sun and rain, so don’t let a drizzle put you off from a day out.
John Forrest National Park is home to over 500 different species of wildflowers. These can be seen in spring and include Banksias, Grevilleas, Blue Lechenaultia and Kangaroo Paws.
The park also has over 90 species of birds, as well as plenty of kangaroos, possums, bandicoots, reptiles and frogs.
There is a $12 entry fee per vehicle to the National Park.
There is no camping at John Forrest National Park.
The only eating option is at the John Forrest National Park Tavern inside the park. The tavern serves alcoholic beverages as well as tea and coffee. There are also ample lunch and dinner options available that are reasonably priced and child-friendly.
Have you visited John Forrest National Park – what was your favourite things to do?
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