Perth’s forest playground and located within a stones throw of the metro area, there is plenty to see and do here ranging from short visits to keep the kids entertained to a full day of exploring trails.
With a rich history that extends back to the late 1800s, it remains a favourite area for Perth locals to explore and get their fix of nature on the weekends.
What Is It:
John Forrest National Park was the first national park designated in Western Australia (and the second in the whole country) and at 2700 hectares, is an important area of bushland in an ever developing city. Originally called Greenmount National Park, the name was changed in 1947 to honour the first premier of Western Australia.
With the Eastern Railway dividing the park up until the 1960s, it is unsurprising to find a great deal of railway history located within the park. Many of the famous sites are related to the old railway line that is no longer operational including the Instagram favourite Swan View Tunnel and Old Hovea Train Station.
Where Is It:
Conveniently located on the edge of the Darling Scarp and 30km from the heart of the city, take Great Eastern Highway up into the hills and follow the signs onto Park Road.
The main parking area is next to the John Forrest Tavern with plenty of bays available. Most of the major attractions are within walking distance of the tavern and there is plenty of information here to guide you.
Entry into the park will incur the national park fee ($15 per vehicle at the time of writing) but if you plan on visiting more than a couple of national parks a year then it is worth investing in an annual pass ($120 per year but RAC members get a discount on that).
What To Do:
John Forrest National Park is a nature lovers dream with plenty of walk trails of all lengths to explore and a number of natural features to admire along the way. The big hike in the area is the Eagle View Walk Trail and at 15km long, it’s a great half-day adventure. With lovely views of the Swan Coastal Plain, waterfalls to explore and some excellent Wandoo forest, this is often rated as one of the best in Perth.
Smaller trails take you to different locations that can be found along the Eagle View Walk Trail including National Park Falls and Hovea Falls. A small trail away from the main car park loops around Glen Brook Dam and is a nice place to escape to for a picnic.
As mentioned before the Swan View Tunnel is a cool place to visit and although it can be reached by a side trail off the Eagle View Walk Trail, it is best experienced on a mountain bike as part of the 42km Railway Reserve Heritage Trail that loops around the hills on either side of Great Eastern Highway. The trail runs right through the park and is a great way to see the hills (along with being a great workout).
What Not To Do:
Being a national park unfortunately dogs are not allowed so you will be turned away if you turn up with your four legged friend.
Dieback has already started to spread within the park so make sure you wash your shoes before and after your visit to stop this devastating fungus. I recommend leaving a brush and spray bottle of diluted methylated spirits in your car if you do a lot of hiking in Western Australia.
Who doesn’t enjoy a cold beverage and a nice meal after a day of exploring trails? Luckily the John Forrest Tavern is there to quench your thirst and provide a warm meal for those cold winter days.
Famous for more than being just a place to grab some food and drinks, the tavern has been home to several locals of the kangaroo variety. Manky is the most famous patron, a big male that quite frequently hangs around, so much so that he is part of the furniture of the place. In 2019 rules were introduced making it a $2000 fine to feed any animals within the park so next time a big kangaroo asks for a chip, just say “sorry mate”.
More like this:
5 Great Day Hikes in Western Australia
The Best Multi-Day Hikes in Western Australia
The Best Walking Trails Close to Perth
Perth’s Best Day Trip Locations
The Best Dog-Friendly Walks and Hikes Around Perth
About the author:
Mark (The Life of Py) is a Perth based outdoor enthusiast that loves exploring the trails of Western Australia in his free time. When he isn’t out taking photos he is busy planning the next adventure. See more of his content HERE.