on June 4, 2007
When I started asking around about what there was to see and do in the capitol city of Western Australia, 9 out of 10 times I got the same response, from both Ozzies and those who had visited. 'You have to go to King's Park.' I'm always a little bit skeptical of parks and gardens being major city attractions, in the same way that I'm leery of things like animal parks and underwater centers. When done right, they are great, but more often than not they are just another thing for a city to tag onto it's 'To do and see' list. But, Kings Park came up again and again, and so when my Australian friends from Bunbury drove us into the city for our last weekend in Australia, I told them that we had to see Kings Park. And having lived in Perth themselves, they avidly agreed. Kings Park is no mere garden of small area to walk the dog in lush tended grass. It is over 400 hectares of parkland, uncultivated bush, adjacent to the Swan River and Mt. Eliza, which has much history with the local aboriginal people. I have to admit that I sorely misjudged Kings Park and what it had to offer, allowing only a couple hours of sightseeing and photo shooting. I highly recommend if you are spending time in the city of Perth to allow a full day, (or a half day at least) to fully enjoy all the park has to offer. There are lots of facilities in the park, as well as frequent events. It's great for wandering, relaxing, and picnicking. If botany is your thing, there are also over 300 species of native plants in the bushlands as well as over 80 species of birds.In my opinion, the very best thing Kings Park had to offer a visitor (though after seeing it, I can fully appreciate why those living in the city find it such a wonderful spot) is the view of the city. As a photographer, this of course ranks higher than it might for other travelers, but still it must be mentioned that the view of Perth (particularly at night) from the lookout point in Kings Park is second to none of cityscape views I have ever seen. The sight of the city lit in the distance (the city center is around 1.5 km from Kings Park, an easy distance from anywhere you may be staying) is something that has stayed with me ever since. The night was crystal clear, and with the haunting under-lit trees on the path behind us, we stood in absolute silence with other like-minded travelers looking out across the twinkling city. If you do nothing else in the gardens, do this. But if you have the time (and I highly recommend you try to allow it) check out the State War Memorial, and if possible go in spring during its impressive wildflower season.
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