The Origins of Araluen Botanical Park
The land was bought in 1929 by Jack Simons, Founder of the Young Australia League (YAL). He had formed the league 24 years earlier as a way of encouraging patriotism towards the newly formed Australian Federation. Now this new land was to serve as their holiday camp.
The league built a series of buildings and structures- Candian-style log cabins, pergolas, cottages, water features- all using locally-sourced materials. Its members were then encouraged, when they went travelling, to bring back plants to compliment this set-up. Slowly a collection of rare and exotic plants accumulated.
Uncertain Times for Araluen Botanical Park
In 1985 the YAL sold the land to a private investor, keeping only a small allotment for themselves. This investor wanted to completely redevelop the area. As a result it was left disused and neglected for years whilst they tried to obtain planning permission.
The land was eventually rescued by a group of local gardeners. Noting the broad variety of plants flourishing there and the unique micro-climate created by its topography, they successfully petitioned for the local government to acquire it and turn it into a park.
The government bought the land in 1990 and, subsequently, the Araluen Botanic Park Foundation was formed. This group was to, with the help of governmental and private funds, develop and maintain the new park.
Araluen Botanic Park into the Modern Day
The land has since been reborn as a breathtaking garden. There are thousands of different plants spread across its 59 hectares, alongside the stunningly-preserved original YAL structures, many of which are now heritage-listed. In particular, it is renowned for its roses, tulips and camelias.
Notable amongst its listed structures are: the Margaret Simons Memorial Pergola (1940), one of the largest pergolas in the southern hemisphere; the Chalet Healy Tearooms (1937), a series of Canadian-style log cabins that still function as a cafe today; Totterdell Cottage (1931), one of the park's oldest buildings and the former base of Jack Italiano, the stonemason responsible for many of the other structures in the park.
Visiting Araluen Botanic Park
The park is a 50 minute drive out of Perth city centre and has parking on site. It is not well connected to public transport.
Its on site facilities include toilets, a gift shop, a cafe, a function centre, a miniature train, picnic and BBQ facilities and wi-fi. Pets are not allowed and visitors are asked to please keep to the paths and not to take any cuttings.
It is open 9am-5pm everyday and entrance ordinarily costs $12. In Spring however, during the park's annual tulip festival (mid-August to late-September), entrance costs £20 for adults and $10 for children. Memberships and group discounts are available.
The park also hosts the annual Fremantle Chili Festival. This features celebrity cooking demonstrations, performances of music from around the world and beer made by local craft breweries, alongside lots of chilis!
On top of these regular events, concerts, treasure hunts, live theatre and art exhibitions and more can be enjoyed there, so it is worth keeping an eye on the park's events page. It's even available for private hire, the perfect spot for a picturesque wedding!
Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our CityDays Urban Exploration Games- untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of Perth and beyond!