This year the Australian Museums and Galleries Association national conference is being held in Perth. I had to take this opportunity to visit Western Australia and visit some amazing cultural heritage and institutions. I haven’t left my home state of Queensland for over two years so this is going to be an extra special trip. Yesterday was my first full day in Perth. To start, I went on a walking tour of the CBD and saw so many incredible heritage buildings and laneways filled with art. Although it rained a bit in the morning, the sun came out in the afternoon which encouraged me to head to Kings Park and Botanic Gardens. I love a good botanic garden and this one certainly ticked every box and then some. I’m going to start this post with a brief history of the Garden and then focus on three main areas: Banksia Garden, Conservation Garden, and Lotterywest Federation Walkway. Overall, it was a truly wonderful way to spend the afternoon in Perth!
History & Aim
Kings Park and Botanic Garden is located on Mount Eliza, extremely close to Perth’s CBD. It offers some pretty spectacular views of Perth – especially on a day that is nice and sunny. The land that the Park and Garden now occupy belongs to the Noongar Indigenous people whose history can be traced back at least 40 000 years. There is a lot of interpretive signage throughout the Garden that tells their story and their connections to the plants on display.
The Garden officially opened on 4 October 1965, with the aim of cultivating and displaying the flora of Western Australia. There is a nursery in the Garden used for research trials and propagation of new flora. In the Garden, you can find around 3 000 species of native flora including the State’s emblem, the Kangaroo Paw. It’s also home to the State’s War Memorial and eternal flame that are situated at the entrance to the Garden. Also at the entrance, you will find the sculpture ‘Symbiotica’ created by Paul Johnson and Gail Mason in 2016. It is a stunning sculpture that stands 8m high and is meant to represent the relationship between plants and insects. It mostly consists of aluminium panels that have seed patterns laser cut onto the surface.
The layout of the park consists of lots of walkways, benches, and places to just stop and relax. The flora is grouped by regions in Western Australia or by taxonomic groupings. Regions represented include Wheatbelt, Goldfields, Stirling Ranges, Rottnest Island, and the Kimberley. One of my favourite areas was the Conservation Garden which I’ll talk about later.
I am going to start with my favourite area, the Banksia Garden. I stumbled across this while walking to the Federation Walkway and spent about half an hour just wandering through, reading all the signs. I’ll take this opportunity to say that the interpretive panels in the Garden are fantastic. Usually bright and colourful so you don’t miss them and many have original artworks from Western Australian artists. Speaking of artworks, there are also some beautiful acid-washed mosaic pavements by artist Philippa O’Brien in the Banksia Garden. Sitting on these pavements, you’ll find some benches which I only discovered through reading the website are made from salvaged banksia timber.
Banksia are native to Australia. Out of the 76 species that exist, 62 are endemic to Western Australia. My favourite Banksia was the Menzies’ Banksia. It also had, in my opinion, the best interpretive panel in this area. Referred to as ‘the jewel of kings park’ the Menzies’ Banksia is the emblem for the Garden and an absolutely stunning flower. I’m going to include an image of the interpretive panel so you can see the artworks by Philippa Nikulinsky and truly appreciate the flower’s beauty. What caught my attention with this Banksia was the orange at the bottom and pink at the top. I was so glad to see one in full bloom!
Another area I spent a lot of time exploring was the Conservation Garden. There are approximately 400 species of endangered plants here grouped according to their region. Again, there are great interpretive panels that, in this case, explain the conservation rating system for these plants and why they have been included in this garden. According to the sign, this area only contains Declared Rare Flora – that is plants which are considered critically endangered, endangered, or vulnerable. Amazing work is being done at the Garden using DNA analysis and tissue culture to help guide these plants away from extinction.
I had a few favourite plants in this area but I only took a photo of Hookpoint Poison. See below.
LotteryWest Federation Walkway
Last, but not least, we have the LotteryWest Federation Walkway. This is a treetop walk with glass walls so you can see out through the side and over the Garden. You also get some great views of South Perth and the Swan River. I really enjoyed walking across this bridge and seeing the Garden from above. It’s always nice to see things from a different perspective and I think, for me, it made me very aware of just how large the Garden is and the diversity of plants and trees contained within.
If you are heading to Perth then definitely visit the Garden. Take a picnic, and enjoy a sunny afternoon surrounded by nature. The Garden is open 24 hours a day and is easily accessed by a free ‘Blue CAT’ bus you can catch from Perth’s CBD.
Entry to the Garden is free and it is quite accessible. Wheelchair access is available in most buildings and in BBQ and parkland precincts.
Check their website before you visit as there are a lot of free events, festivals, etc!