When we asked several of our Western Aussie friends what to see in Perth, the number one answer, without hesitation, was King's Park. We saved it till last on our agenda in Perth so we could savor the park and its botanic gardens in the warmth and brilliance of a sunny day in Perth … something we hadn't seen much of since our return to Australia.
Touted to be one of the largest inner city parks in the world and the oldest public park in Australia, King's Park occupies 4.06 km² (1,003 acres) on the slope of Mount Eliza overlooking Perth City and the Swan and Canning Rivers. I had downloaded a map of the park and botanic gardens onto our iPad and we headed out in search of several key park/garden attractions. The park is criss-crossed with paths and trails. Interesting sights are everywhere and there's lots to take in.
We walked along a path that followed the Swan River to find the Federation Walkway and the famed “glass bridge”. The walkway leads across an elevated glass and steel arched bridge suspended 170' (52m) in the air, allowing visitors to walk through a eucalypt tree canopy with treetops and their residents at eye level.
Wildflowers were just coming into bloom. It's nearly Spring here, don't forget. King's Park hosts the largest wildflower festival in Australia. Unfortunately, it's not scheduled till mid-September and we'll hopefully be well on our way well before then.
We climbed the 101 steps of the DNA Tower for great views of the park and surrounding area. On a clear day, they say Rottnest Island can be seen, but not this day. The DNA Tower is so-named because of its double helix design. In actuality, however, it was inspired by a double staircase in a Chateau at Blois, France, that just happened to also look like the DNA nucleotide.
Gija Jumulu is a giant boab tree that journeyed 1717 miles (3,200 km) from a remote area of Western Australia to its new home in Perth in 2008. This 36-ton tree, estimated to be about 750 years old, needed to be moved to make way for a bridge on the Great Northern Highway. They claim this to be the longest distance a tree of this size has traveled ... and who's to argue? Gija looked leafless and lifeless when we visited, but perhaps it was an off-season for him.
There are more monuments, memorials, statues and honor avenues in Kings Parks than any other park in Australia. They were all strategically set in lovely areas to honor events and people, especially military service, in Australia's history. The Cenotaph is the centerpiece of them all.
Over two thirds of the park is protected bushland, and the walks through this area were particularly pleasant. Despite the number of people here on a beautiful day, we had several paths to ourselves … and a photogenic kookaburra.
All in all, a delightful day getting to learn a little bit about Perth and visiting Kings Park and Botanic Gardens. I'll wager there are many Aussies who have never visited this fair city, so we feel fortunate that we have had the opportunity. Perth may be isolated from the rest of Australia, but no longer from us.