John Forrest National Park
The first national park in Western Australia and the second in Australia after Royal National Park, this park has been a favourite destination for Perth families since its establishment in 1900. In the early days, visitors arrived by train on the Eastern Railway line which dissected the park. The original station was at Hovea Falls; a second station was added in 1936 near the main park buildings. The last train steamed through the park on 13 February 1966. The path of the railway forms the John Forrest Heritage Trail. There are also the Glen Brook Walk Trail and the Eage View Walk Trail within the park. These lead to the National Park Falls, Hovea Falls and the disused Swan View railway tunnel.
Access to the Tavern and the park's facilities alongside Glen Brook requires payment, whereas the scenic drive through the park remains free.
Historic land uses before the area was made a National Park include timber production and grazing, and the main east-west rail route passed through the Park from the 1890s until the mid-1960s. During the 1930s depression, sustenance workers built the rock gardens, paths and pool weir in the main picnic area on the banks of Glen Brook. The historic remnants provide opportunities for visitors to reflect upon and learn about bygone days.
Throughout the 20th century, John Forrest National Park was one of Perth's most popular day trip deswtinations. During the first half of that century, visitors generally arrived by train. After World War II, motor vehicle ownership increased at a phenominal rate and it wasn't long before visitors began arriving in their family car rather than by train.
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The Swan View Tunnel, in John Forrest National Park, is a reminder of when the rail link to the rest of Australia once passed that way. It is the only railway tunnel ever constructed in Western Australia and is now part of the John Forrest Heritage Trail, which runs through the park. The original Mahogany Creek line, built in 1884 between Midland to Mundaring, was so steep a deviation had to be built which included this tunnel. Cut through solid rock, the tunnel was completed in 1895 at a cost of about £12,000.
Shortly after the opening of the new line in 1896, engine crews began complaining about problems being experienced while passing through the tunnel. Following a number of accidents caused through ventilation problems, it was decided to build a tunnel bypass on the northern side. The Mahogany Creek line continued to be used until the Avon Valley dual gauge railway came into full operation. The line closed on 13 February, 1966.
Although the trains are now long gone, the old railway alignment remains, clearly delineated by the embankments, bridges and the tunnel.
Hovea Falls are featured in the Eagle's View Walk in John Forrest National Park. The circuit walk offers great views across the Swan Coastal Plain to Perth city and the ocean in the distance. The trail is a bushwalker's delight, covering a variety of relatively pristine habitats, passing beautiful waterfalls and boasting spectacular wildflower displays in spring.
Also known as National Park Falls, these falls are accessed by taking the main walking path through the Jane Brook valley which follows the route taken by the old Swan View deviation railway line through the park. The track leads from the Park's main picnic area on Jane Brook to the Swan View Railway tunnel which can be walked through.