PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA – Kings Park Botanical and Memorial Garden

Eternal Flame and State Memorial
Eternal Flame and State Memorial

Its close proximity to Perth brought tourists and local people to Kings Park, enjoying the fresh air and open spaces, this New Years Day 2015.

We made our way to the State War Memorial on Mount Eliza overlooking Perth Water.  A part of the War Memorial, the Cenotaph includes a roll of honour naming all servicemen and women who gave their lives representing Western Australia in combat:  the Boer War; World Wars 1 and 11; the Korean and Vietnam War;  most recently in 2012 in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Flame of Remembrance and Pool of Reflection were inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth 11 during her visit in April 2000.

Numerous military memorials are placed around the park.  It was humbling, in the embracing heat of New Years Day, to walk along the Honour Avenues lined with eucalyptus trees, where each tree had a plaque in memory of a specific person lost in action:  a total over 1100 plaques.

Botanical knowledge of the trees and shrubs that thrive in the soil at Kings Park continues to evolve.  In 1898 red-flowering gum trees, Corymbia ficifolia, were planted along Fraser Avenue to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee.  Unfortunately attacked and killed by patch canker disease during the 1930’s, eventually they were replaced with Lemon Scented gum trees, Corymbia citriodora.

Statue of Queen Victoria
Statue of Queen Victoria

Kings Park consists of 1,000 acres with over 12,000 Australian plant species.  The Lotterywest Federation glass walkway links areas in the 45 acre Botanic Garden, taking visitors high up through shrubs and trees.

The Lotterywest Walkway
The Lotterywest Walkway

As many local people we met, our taxi driver was proud of the open spaces, monuments and ancient trees in Kings Park.  Its easy accessibility to the city and panoramic views across Perth, as well as the Swan River from Mount Eliza, have a unique appeal.

The Park’s history dates back to 1872 when the Surveyor General Malcolm Fraser had the foresight to set aside an area known as Perth Park for public use.  In 1890 Perth Park was enlarged to its current size and in 1901 the name was changed to Kings Park, in celebration of the accession of King Edward VII to the British throne.

Boab Tree (Andansonia gregoril)
Boab Tree (Andansonia gregoril)

Several young Boab trees have been planted.  The Boab is valued especially by local  indigenous people for its edible fruits and other medicinal uses.  Water is retained in its trunk.  In 2008 an established Boab, believed to be over 750 years old, had to be relocated due to expansion of the Great Northern Highway.  It was moved over 3,200 kilometres from Western Australia’s Kimberley region to Kings Park, as a special gift to all Western Australians from the local indigenous people, the Gija.  Today this tree is known as the Giant Boab ‘Gija Jumulu.’

The Giant Boab 'Gija Jumulu'
The Giant Boab ‘Gija Jumulu’

It was great wandering around the Park where we were able to see tree ferns and agapanthus, that we have in our garden at home, in their natural habitats.  Family groups enjoyed picnics on the spacious grassed areas in the 30 degree plus temperature, many taking the opportunity afterwards to relax by the cooling water of the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Fountain.

Tree Ferns
Tree Ferns
Agapanthus
Agapanthus
Pioneer Women's memorial fountain
Pioneer Women’s memorial fountain

We punctuated our visit with a tasty fish lunch in the restaurant before a second walk through the botanical gardens and an ice cream, wending our way to the bus stop, physically and emotionally sated.  With fellow tourists and Perth residents waiting for a return bus to Perth, we felt lucky to have experienced this unique open space:  more so because it is free, no entry or car parking charges.  Fantastic!

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PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA – Exploration and Settlement

View of Perth from Kings Park
View of Perth from Kings Park

Perth on the Western coast of Australia.  With no idea what to expect and time being limited, we had booked ourselves onto a coach tour of the city and surrounding area.  A furious ringing from the bedside table disturbed our sound sleep.  7.15 a.m. local time:  reception saying a coach driver and coach load of people were waiting.

‘No, no,’ I said in dreamlike state, ‘that’s tomorrow, Wednesday,’ replacing the phone.  Our brief return to the land of nod again was disturbed by shrill ringing.

‘The driver assures you it’s today, today is Wednesday.’  Oh, no!  ‘We aren’t ready.  Please send our apologies and ask the driver to continue without us.’

Forty-five minutes later we were climbing into a taxi outside the hotel.  The driver was as good as his word, delivering us to the cafeteria in Kings Park within twenty minutes.  Here we breakfasted on coffee and pastries, strolling to admire the views of Perth below, before uniting with the early-bird coach driver and his passengers.  An interesting history, including ancient trees and shrubs found only in the southern hemisphere, made us resolve to return another day and explore at our own more leisurely walking pace.

Perth from Kings Park
Perth from Kings Park

Between the Carey world-wide chauffeur service – whose welcoming driver had met us at the airport – the taxi and coach drivers, we learnt Perth’s history.  The coach stopped at St Martins Centre.  Located on the site of the first businessmen’s club of WA it was the inspiration for an unusual sculpture group.

FOOTSTEPS IN TIME  commemorates the 175th anniversary of Western Australia and recognises the involvement of businessmen in significant historical moments during Perth’s development.

1697 (back) and 1829 (front)
1697 – Dutch exploration, discovery, mapping, naming of the Swan River. 1829 – Anglo Celtic settlement of Swan River
Central figure - 1885-95 - The discovery of gold
Central figure – 1885-95 – The discovery of gold
1945-55 Post World War 2 European Immigration. 2004 The millennium man
1945-55 – Post World War 2 European Immigration. 2004 – The millennium man

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The coach arrived in Fremantle with time to appreciate some of its large collection of heritage listed buildings, before boarding a boat for our ride up the Swan River.

Fremantle

The indigenous hunters and gatherers of South West Australia were aborigines of the Noongar tribe, who called the Swan River area, Boorloo.  A few years after the arrival of the first settlers in 1829, hostilities – including executions and massacres of the Noongar people – caused them to retreat from the area, moving to the swamps and lakes north of the river.

As we cruised up-river, I imagined the first Dutch explorers travelling along the river estuary in 1697 and their disappointment at finding the soil infertile limestone and sand, interspersed with large flat swamp-lands.  Black swans gave rise to the name ‘Swan River.’  Later explorations by the French and British in 1801 and 1822, found little change:  the land was infertile and unsuitable for settlement.

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In 1827 Captain James Stirling was searching for a settlement in Western Australia, to aid relatives in the British East India Company who were seeking to establish Indian Ocean trade.  In a positive frame of mind, Captain Stirling did not travel far enough upriver to see the mainly sandy soil around the estuary, reporting that the area would provide good quality agricultural land.  Lobbying for a free settlement, unlike the other penal settlements, the British Government was persuaded that such a colony would incur negligible cost, and permission was granted in 1828.

Paddle boat on the Swan River
Paddle boat on the Swan River

Today’s fertile green riverbanks and smart residences along the river estuary are vastly different to the raw emptiness that greeted the first fleet of settlers.  Having disembarked with their possessions in June 1829, they found that no land had been allocated or buildings constructed.  Captain Stirling’s Surveyor-General, Septimus Roe, demarcated the fertile locations close to the Swan and Canning Rivers and upstream, where the district of Guildford had the best quality soil and was settled in the first year of the colony.

The town sites of Perth, Fremantle and Guildford were laid out by Septimus Roe. Perth’s site with access to fresh water, river transport and building materials, was to be the administrative and military hub. Fremantle was the port city, with Guildford the loading point for agricultural produce.

Poor soil around Perth inhibited agricultural development, its slow expansion contributing to Perth becoming a penal colony in 1849.  Over the next sixteen years the large convict workforce – comprising over 9,000 convicts – brought expansion in the form of infrastructure and colonial inspired buildings.  Despite being proclaimed a City by Queen Victoria in 1856, Perth remained a garden city with scattered residences.

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In the last quarter of the 19th century, a telegraph line from Adelaide to Perth improved intercontinental communication and was followed eight years later by the first weekly newspaper, the Western Mail.  Impressive government offices were built and the railway line from Fremantle to Guildford was completed.

Fremantle Railway Station
Fremantle Railway Station

The location of the central Perth railway station, with railway lines acting as boundaries, created a vibrant central walking area.   Today this pedestrianized area is being enlarged and improved by the construction of underground tunnels to run trains beneath the city.  Residents and tourists will be able to reach all parts of the city on foot, without the hindrance of finding designated crossings or bridges to traverse the railway lines.   It was a fifteen minute detour from the Four Points Sheraton hotel, to reach a part of town containing excellent restaurants and promising New Year celebrations, so we thoroughly appreciate the improvement these changes will bring once completed.

Perth 2014-a5
Perth 2014-15
New Years Eve Perth 2014/15
New Years Eve Perth 2014/15

Before joining in the musical celebrations to sing in the New Year, we found an outside table where we ‘whispered sweet nothings’ over an excellent dinner for two.  Thinking of the cold wind, and often rain, that heralds in our English New Year, we appreciated the deep warmth we were enjoying here in Perth.

Cheers!
Cheers!

We can luxuriate in a lie-in tomorrow, I’m sure nothing is booked (!) so we won’t have reception ringing our bell with a loud wake up call.

Our plan is to return to Kings Park for a leisurely day, before catching a boat to the unique Rottnest Island, the day after.  I hope you’ll join me for Part 2 of tales about Perth.

Dubai Holiday – Parts 1, 2 and 3 – continuing with Part 4

New Zealand (308)

Hello Everyone

This is to let you know that I am continuing with the story of our special holiday that started on Christmas Day in 2014 and ended in February 2015 after visits to Australia – Perth, Sydney, Cairns – and New Zealand – Auckland, Waiheke, Rotorua and Lake Taupo.  So lots of writing for me!

A little time has passed since I started dianesdaysout with details about our first stop-over.  As a reminder, I have up-dated and am re-publishing the three posts about the Dubai desert trip.  Currently I’m working on Part 4, the Dubai Creek area.

Leaving Dubai, we continue to Perth where we were amazed by the ancient trees and plants in Kings Park botanical garden and the funny creatures living on Rottnest Island – not the humans!

Thank you for following dianesdaysout   Comments or suggestions are welcome and noted, and adjustments made where relevant.

I hope you all enjoy the next few weeks.

Best wishes

Diane