John Forrest National Park
Updated: Sep 17, 2020
John Forrest National Park was established in 1900 and has been a popular picnic and walking spot ever since. There are large picnic areas with lots of tables scattered around the main area near the car parks. There are plenty of barbecues available and there are bigger gazebos for large groups. There is a centrally located toilet block opposite the Ranger's office. There is also a tavern there. The picnic benches are in heavy demand from about 11am onwards - before that the park is mostly full of walkers.
There are numerous walking trails in the park ranging from 300m to 16km in length. There is also a bridle trail for horses. The Railway Reserves Heritage Trail runs through the park and can be used for walking or riding bikes. Please note that as this is a National Park no dogs are permitted and there is a $15 entrance fee per car payable on entry. The automated machine at the entry station will only take credit cards. National Park Passes are also available at very reasonable rates (discounts provided through RAC membership) and these will allow you access to either all National Parks in WA or local metropolitan parks for a reduced fee.
The picnic area is located around Jane Brook and there are lots of interesting parts to explore with your children. The safety of clambering over rocks and paddling in the stream will depend on the level of water flowing and care must be taken at all times. As the seasons vary and the water levels change or the wildflowers bloom you will get a completely different perspective on this park. You can see the Railway Reserve Heritage Trail running across the bridge and off into the distance.
This universal access path will take you around the broader part of Jane Brook. This is the historical heart of the park and there are information plaques along the way to tell you about the history of the park and the fairy houses. The park map shows this as both a 300 m walk and a 2.5km walk. If you cross at the first bridge you will do the shorter walk but if you continue on to the next bridge upstream you will complete the 2.5km walk - still a very easy walk. At the second bridge where trail markers show the bridle trail continuing up to our right (walking anti-clockwise) we crossed over and walked back along the path running parallel with the Railway Reserve Heritage Trail. We completed the walk in about 30 minutes.
RAILWAY RESERVE HERITAGE TRAIL TO SWAN VIEW TUNNEL
approximately 2 km each way and is dual use with bikes. The Swan View Tunnel, an old railway tunnel, is accessible but be aware that a lot of water collects inside. It is great fun jumping the puddles and finding your way but it gets very dark in the middle so have your flashlights handy! The Railway Reserve Heritage Trail itself runs for 41km and only a small part of it passes through the National Park.
On our return from exploring the Swan View Tunnel we crossed the bridge to access the National Park Falls trail. As it was spring the wildflowers along this path were amazing and there was quite a bit of water on the falls. This is a narrow but easy trail 2.2km loop alongside the brook which takes about 30 minutes. It finishes alongside the bridge over Jane Brook near the picnic area so we enjoyed a barbecue lunch before heading to Hovea Falls.
After lunch we joined the Railway Reserve Heritage Trail again heading towards Hovea Falls which were stunning. There is easy access onto the rocks surrounding the falls so keep an eye on your kids as the rocks can be slippery. We then walked back taking the detour down to the lower paths joining Jane Brook Promenade to return to the car park. The walk to Hovea Falls is about 1km each way.
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