John Forrest National Park is WA’s first national park and is a popular location for the local community and tourists. However, it has been a long time since any significant improvements were made to the park’s facilities.
To ensure visitors can continue to experience and enjoy the park, some improvements will be made which will revitalise and diversify the activities available to visitors.
The improvements will make the park more accessible to a broader range of visitors and allow more people to enjoy the natural beauty.
The planned upgrades include a new park hub with a café and interpretation space, improvements to existing picnic areas, gardens, carparking, and improved walking and new off-road cycling trails.
In 2021, the Government committed $8.4 million to upgrade facilities at John Forrest National Park. An additional $2.3 million was committed as part of the WA Recovery Plan initiative to upgrade and develop new trails within the park.
The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions is delivering the project and has engaged with park users, key stakeholders and Aboriginal Traditional Owners over several years to inform the vision and planning of the park improvements.
In February 2022, local Perth architects Gresley Abas were appointed to design the new park hub, which will include the new café and interpretation space. The design will be available by June 2022.
Works are expected to commence in mid-2022 and will be completed in stages to allow the park to remain open throughout the upgrades. Some areas where works are occurring may need to temporarily close for visitor safety.
What will happen to the tavern at John Forrest National Park?
The current lease to operate the John Forrest (Wildflower) Tavern expires on 31 May 2022 and the tavern will be closing after this date to so that work can commence.
DBCA has been liaising with the current tavern lessees for a significant period in preparation for this change, which was outlined in the park management plan as far back as 1994.
The continued operation of the tavern will not be possible, as the business would be disrupted by preliminary on ground work, which will be commencing over the coming months.
Will there be anywhere in the park to buy food and drinks once the tavern closes?
While the new park hub is being constructed, visitors will be able to buy food and drinks from licensed food vans.
Once the new café has been constructed, DBCA will offer a management lease via a publicly advertised, competitive process.
DBCA understands how special the kangaroos that visit the tavern are. They will continue to live in the park and DBCA rangers will monitor their wellbeing whilst they transition to natural feeding and foraging in the surrounding bushland.
It is not best practice to feed wildlife as it can lead to human dependency for food and nutritional imbalances, increase the spread of disease and negatively influence animals’ behaviour.
Hand feeding also brings wildlife into close contact with people and increases the risk of potential conflict. Aggressive animals can pose a danger to people, particularly children, and losing their fear of humans can also make wildlife more vulnerable to abuse by some people.
The kangaroos will be able to continue to thrive and live safely within the park and be a part of the visitor experience.
Read more: 'Architect appointed for enhancement of WA's oldest park.'