PERTH Kings Park and the Perth Mint
Today we made the decision to go to the Perth Mint
The Perth Mint
On arrival, we noticed a very real looking bronze sculpture known as "The Strike." This sculpture is about the two men - William Ford and Arthur Bayley who are credited with finding the first major gold find in Western Australia. This happened back in 1892 near the town of Coolgardie where I had previously been.
These full sized statues were sculpted by Greg James, who is famous for many sculptures found in Perth. They certainly are realistic!
[The plaque reads
"This sculpture depicts the gold strike near Coolgardie by
prospectors William Ford and Arthur Bayley in 1892 which
unleashed the gold rushes that secured the future of the
struggling colony of Western Australia. Established one of the
State's most successful and enduring industries and led to the
foundation of the Perth Mint in 1899."
Visiting the garden was free and it was the only place photos are allowed.
The Perth Mint is a leading tourist attraction in Perth. We have been to the Mint in Canberra which mints Australia's currency, but this one is where the nation's official bullion and commemorative coins are made, also bars of gold for investors and other precious metal products.
We booked our tour when we arrived, then had a look in the shop as we had 15minutes to wait for our tour to begin. Our guide was one of the workers who was a knowledgable, pleasant and humorous young man.
We began in the garden as there was replica of the Golden Eagle nugget, wow! it was huge! Next we were taken inside the building where our guide began taking us on an interesting journey through time, from the early gold rush days when heaps of prospectors spent years working in backbreaking conditions in outback Australia in search of gold nuggets.
Replica of Golden Eagle Nugget.
Inside we saw many natural gold nuggets including Newmont's Normandy Nugget, the second largest gold nugget in existence. Weight - 25.5 kilograms
What was amazing, was seeing the largest gold coin ever made. There it was before our very eyes, the Australian Kangaroo One tonne Gold Coin, the largest and most valuable coin in the world. The coin is 99.99% pure gold, it measures nearly 80cm wide and is more than 12cm deep. The value of this coin - More than $50 million! Now that was impressive and well worth seeing!
Our guide let us view the end section of the tour by ourselves, but was on hand to answer any questions we had. We looked through glass windows to watch the workers making coins, unfortunately there was only one person working.
Next we were taken to the Gold Pour room. This is Perth Mint's original melting house which is embedded with gold dust accumulated over many years of refining. We sat on a small stand and listened to a new guide continue the story of gold. He heated pure gold to molten temperatures, then quickly took the liquid gold and poured it into an empty mould. Hey, presto, we had just seen a gold bar made!
This was the last stop of the tour. We could go back and have another look, which we did, and we weighed ourselves on the scales. The scales spit out a print out of how much your worth in gold at the price it was that day! Quite interesting, and for once, any larger sized person was worth the most money!
For a souvenir, you can put a message on an aluminium bronze, gold plated, 99.9% pure silver or 99.99% pure gold medallion. From $17, these medallions are ready to take away with you by the time you have finished the tour.
This was an excellent tour and one we both enjoyed.
Kings Park lay-out
Next, if was off to Kings Park, one of the world’s largest parks, and in my eyes, one of the most beautiful in Australia, especially for seeing Australian native plants. Even if your not into gardening, flowers and the likes, Kings Park is still worth coming to for the wonderful views it has over Perth.
It was a miserable showery day when we arrived at the free car-park in Kings Park located next to the Information centre, the Cafes and Toilets. With umbrellas up, we made our way to the Information centre where we picked up a free map and guide to the park.
What to do in the wet? There were a couple of options. We decided an early lunch was the best idea thinking the rain may have cleared by the time we had finished. We had a couple of options to choose from . One was the rather expensive fine dining experience at Fraser's Restaurant and the other was the Botanical Café which didn't have any vacant tables.
Just around the corner from the Botanical Café, was the Kings Park Kiosk where we bought some take-away food, then had a problem of finding somewhere to eat it as all the seats underneath the umbrellas were wet! Eventually we found some shelter and enjoyed our take-away food.
By this time, the showers had gone for the time being and the sun was shining. We could see Perth, and what a wonderful sight it was from Kings Park!
Before heading off on one of the many walks in the park, I decided to have a look in the couple of shops in this area.
"Aspects of Kings Park"
"Aspects of Kings Park" gallery shop has beautiful expensive pieces of quality arts and crafts for sale, well, it was worth a look and a dream!
All profits made by sales in the shop, are reinvested directly back into the park, a great idea!
Next was the Aboriginal Art Gallery which had displays of Indigenous art, books, unique gifts and souvenirs available to buy.
It was a shame the day was wet, as I had planned on spending a large part of the day in Kings Park. The park is large and well set out, meaning that you can quite easily do this. Unfortunately, rain and wind put an end to my plans. It wasn't much fun walking around, but I did as I wanted to see as much as I could.
Where to begin in a large park like this?
Located near the shops and Cafes is a paved pathway with a mosaic of a Banksia and the writing, "Kings Park botanical garden." Further along was another beautiful mosaic depicting Western Australia’s floral emblem, the red & green flowered Mangles Kangaroo Paw, Anigozanthos manglesii.
This is the start of the humungous Botanical garden in Kings Park, where every individual flower, shrub and tree has its botanical and common name written on a sign in English.
Quite a few plants were in flower, but we were told we were just a fraction early to see the park at its best. Timing depends on how much rain has fallen previously and what the climate is like for seeing the flowers at their best, this makes it quite hard to plan ahead.
Western Australia has half of Australia’s 25,000 plant species, and as I found out, many are unique and found nowhere else on earth. It is fascinating seeing where they flower, some directly out of the ground, the shapes of their leaves and the beautiful colours and the unusual shapes of the many flowers, I had never seen anything like it before! Nature is extremely clever!
First, I decided to do some of the Memorial Walking Trail which covered a distance of 1.7km, estimated time - 1 hour.
As the rain has passed for the time being, I began at the Information centre and made my way down the steps to the State War Memorial Precinct.
What an impressive sight was laid out before me! The path stretched down to the Cenotaph from where I had excellent views over Perth,, but in-between was the Flame of Remembrance and the Pool of Reflection located in the well laid out "Court of Contemplation."
Flame of Remembrance
The Flame of Remembrance never goes out. On looking, I could see four torches, each one represents one of these forces - Navy, Airforce, Army and Womens services. It is a place to come and stand in silence, remembering the Western Australians who served in the wars and lost their lives. Around the walls are the names of all the major battlefields and there are plaques with the names of the Victorian Cross and George cross recipients from Western Australia.
The Cenotaph is an impressive 18 metre high block of granite commemorating the Australians who gave up their lives serving Australia.
A walk down some steps on either side, lead to a chamber where the names of 7000 Western Australians are listed, either dying by the hand of the enemy or from illness in WW I. Bronze plaques line the outside walls of the chamber, with the names of those who lost their lives in WW II.
Names have been added here from other conflicts.
On the front of the Cenotaph, is the ANZAC Commemorative Plaque dedicated to the 2500 men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, (ANZACS), who lost their live during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915.
If you have been to Gallipoli, perhaps you would like to compare the site of Anzac Bluff with there, as it is said to resemble the area where the first soldiers landed in Gallipoli.
A bit of trivia - Kings Park and Botanic Gardens has more memorials, statues and honour avenues than any other park in Australia.
I had read many times that the best place for a good view of Perth was at Kings Park and after being here, I would have to agree with that.
From the Cenotaph, I walked down to the railing to take in the views of Perth, the Swan River and surrounds. I was very lucky the rain had passed and I was able to take some decent photos.
For me, this was the best look-out
I am still on the Memorial walk and quite enjoying it as there are many different memorials to what I have seen in other parts of Australia. Altogether, there are 13 memorials.
A couple are in memory of Western Australian Premiers. Lord John Forrest, the 1st Premier of Western Australia and the first President of the Kings Park board, named this park "Perth Park," and doubled the size of the reserve and sought funding for the development of the park.
Some different memorials were -
Dr Arnold Cook, who created the wonderful Guide Dogs organization in Australia. Thanks to this man, now the blind are able to have guide dogs that lead them safely around their homes and outdoors.
Bali Memorial, in memory of the 88 Australians, sixteen from Western Australia, who lost their lives in Kuta, Bali, Indonesia during the Bali terrorist attacks in 2002 which targeted Australians. Altogether, 202 people were killed and 209 were injured, most were foreign tourists!
HMS Queen Elizabeth bomb shell. This bomb shell was used as a collection box for donations to keep up the maintenance on the Honour Avenues.
I found Queen Victoria standing proud and tall since 1903. The statue is a replica of another made for the Examination Hall of the Royal College of Surgeons. To make sure it was as accurate as possible, Queen Victoria's robes were given to the sculptor to copy the lace into the Carrara marble, whilst the veil was made to look like the Queen’s wedding veil.
My next walk was along the Bushland Walking trail. Just imagine - We are in the heart of Perth and in Kings Park which has bush that's been there since the year dot! The trail was an easy short walk of 1km, beginning at the free car-park on Forrest Drive, where there's a Mia-Mia (a temporary shelter made of bark, branches, leaves and grass used by Aboriginals) at the entrance.
In the bush, Jarrah and Marri trees were growing, these I learnt about at school, also many varieties of wildflowers including some orchids, birds, but no lizards on the cool and wet day.
My leaflet told me there are more orchid species in Kings Park than in the whole of Europe!
Views over Perth and the Swan River
Another look-out in Kings Park was Dryandra Lookout. It too had fairly good views over a different part of Perth. This is located along Law Walk on the edge of the Mt Eliza Escarpment off Forrest Drive.
The Boodja Gnarning walk can be as short or long as you want, the decision is left up to you! The trail is divided into three parts, I walked the long version of the walk.
The three parts are -
Then add on the Maarm Track where I saw and learnt about what the Nyoongar men did for tools, shelter, hunting and spiritual purposes.
Then add on the Yorga Track, where I saw what the Nyoongar women’s traditional roles and responsibilities were. This included the gathering of food, tools and medicines from the area now known as the Water Garden.
Kings Park is a sacred place for Aborigines. The Aboriginal Dreamtime story is about the mythical rainbow serpent, the Wagyl, who entered the ground where Parliament House now stands, then made its way through Mount Eliza, emerging at the spring which feeds the Kennedy Fountain in Kings Park. From here, the rainbow serpent continued on its way to the sea, along the way creating the beautiful Swan River. The area at the base of Kings Park is known as Goonininup. This was an important ceremonial and dreaming area for Aboriginal males.
As I walked the trail, I discovered unique West Australian plants that the Aboriginals used for bush food and medicine, and what they used to make tools and to use as shelter for their survival. There is plenty of interpretive signage panels and artworks from the Nyoongar people along the way.
One of the interesting attractions was the Gija Jumulu (Giant Boab tree), that was transported from Warmun in the east Kimberley, 3200 kms to its new home in Kings Park and Botanic Garden. A 75 tonne truck was used to transport the tree, 22.5 metres in diameter and weighing 37.2 tonne to its new home in Perth. The tree is estimated to be 750 years old, which I thought was very old, I was wrong as this is young for this kind of tree as they can live up to 2000 years old. The Boab is a good tree to find if your dying of thirst, as the inside of the trunk is full of water.
The Boab in Kings Park has been named "Gija Jumulu" by the Indigenous Gija people.
Next to the Boab trees is the Verticordia and Boronia Gardens. Boronias are an evergreen native shrub with cup-like flowers appearing in spring. They are in high demand when flowering as the flowers have a gorgeous perfume. Brown flowered Boronias have a lovely lemon scented perfume.
What I liked about the Botanical gardens was the way they had set areas for set plants. This way you can really see the differences in some species, especially the Wattles (Acacia).
There are over 1200 Wattles in Australia, 560 of them in Western Australia, no wonder it is Australia's floral emblem. The area where the Wattles are located is a dry river bed with granite steps which include marble inlays depicting the leaves and flowers of different Wattles. This was done by artist Stuart Green, who also etched seed pods into individual steps.
The Wattle (Acacia) garden takes you through time, from the primitive species of Brown's wattle which still exists today. Walking up the stairs I looked down and saw mosaic representations of different Wattles.
One of my favourite shrubs I grow in my own garden is the Grevillea. Kings Park has a Grevillea & Hakea Garden where 220 of the 340 species of Grevillea, 190 of which are in the south-west of the state are growing. I love them because they bring birds to my garden, just as they do here! Once again I found some unusual plants, such as the cricket ball hakea, named for it fruits that are like cricket balls and white plume grevillea that smells like old socks mainly at dusk and dawn in order to attract moths to pollinate it.
Roe Gardens is at the end of the park is where the flowering Eucalyptus were, they are a real picture when they're flowering. Some have silver leaves which I think makes a nice contrast to the brightly coloured flowers.
In Roe gardens is a monolith dedicated to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have served since the Boer War. Many lost their lives doing so. There is wall for sitting on and an arbour roof shaped like a gum leaf.
The garden is named after Western Australia's first surveyor-general, John Septimus Roe.
The 620metre long Federation Walkway is located near Two Rivers Lookout near the Fraser Avenue roundabout.
It begins at ground level, then gradually goes higher and higher until your up amongst the tree tops, eyeballing ferns and other plants that grow on some trees and getting to see the tall straight trees that grow in Western Australia. I was impressed with this arched bridge with its glass walls from where I could clearly see the forest floor.
Views from the Federation Walkway of the Swan Brewery and Perth
I stopped and enjoyed the views of the Canning & Swan Rivers, Perth and the Swan Brewery, I looked down and found nice Aboriginal artwork done by the local Indigenous people.
Aboriginal patterns along the Federation Walkway
A couple beckoned for me to come over as they had spotted a pair of Tawny Frogmouth owls in the tree. The photo isn't the best because they are grey and blend in well with the tree.
Pair of Tawny Frogmouth Owls
At the top, the walkway descends to an amphitheatre where traditional performances are held during the Kings Park Festival.
I made my way back from the Federation walkway via the Water garden. The pathway at the water garden has 53 brass plaques embedded in it, in recognition of the contribution women's groups have made to Western Australia.
Water gardens I always find peaceful, this one was no exception. In 1999 to mark the centenary of Women's Suffrage in Western Australia, the garden was remodelled to create the Darling Range creek complete with massive granite boulders. I liked the footbridge in the centre from where I could stand and enjoy the peacefulness of this area. Swamp paperbarks which love wet areas were growing well, as were the Irises and sedges. To add to the beauty of this area, were sculptures symbolizing life, growth, strength of heart, renewal and leadership.
In the middle of the lake is the stunning Pioneer Women's Memorial. I was watching the fountain and found it goes through some different sequences.
If you want to see Kangaroo Paws, then you must come here! Once again, I grow these at home quite well and thought I had quite a few varieties, what I didn't know, was there were many more including a black Kangaroo Paw! This one hadn't opened properly, so I still haven't really seen it. I did see many other impressive colours that I really loved.
I grow Banksias too, so this was another interesting garden for me. Altogether, there are 76 species, 62 are found only in Western Australia. The display garden is really good, it even has nice Banksia designs in the pavement. I was lucky enough to find a lot of them in flower, including a few that flower at ground level.
The Banksia garden has some beautiful artwork created by Philippa O'Brien. On marble, she created five species which grow in the Kings Park bushland - The acorn, bull, holly-leaved, narrow-leaved and Menzies' banksia, whilst the second pavement shows the prostrate banksias. These were lovely and so well done! The seats are made of firewood banksia timber, each has a wrought-iron back with a pattern of the zig-zag leaves of the bull banksia.
Well, that was the end of a most enjoyable time spent in the gardens. If I ever return to Perth, I will definitely be back here for another look around