John Forrest National Park
John Forrest National Park

John Forrest National Park is WA’s first national park. It 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 WA State Government committed $8.4 million to upgrade facilities at John Forrest National Park. An additional $2.5 million was committed as part of the WA Recovery Plan initiative to upgrade and develop new trails within the park. 

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions (DBCA) 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. 

Project timeline

John Forrest National Park improvement project timeline

Project designs

Schematic design - June 2022

Download schematic designs for John Forrest National Park (PDF 17.25MB)

The schematic designs for the new Park Hub, parking area and access bridge at John Forrest National Park show where new buildings and facilities will be situated within the park and in relation to current structures and attractions.

The architectural consultant and DBCA are working closely with traditional owners throughout the design phase to ensure cultural heritage values, stories and sites of significance are clearly understood, documented and considered throughout the design process prior to construction.

Providing access to all visitors is an underlying design principal. The buildings, interpretive displays, gardens, carparking and paths around the Park Hub will provide access for all, meaning more people than ever will be able to experience and enjoy the park.

Park Hub

The Park Hub is located to take advantage of the expansive views overlooking Jane Brook and the redeveloped lower terrace, Margaret Forrest Centre, the restored gardens, the Railway Reserve Heritage Trail and the park to the north.

The Park Hub will be a place where visitors can learn about the Aboriginal heritage and post-settlement history of the park and showcase WA’s national park network.

It will include an interpretation space, food and beverage service where visitors can enjoy a dine-in or takeaway meal or drink, and a function space suitable for a broad range of community and private events.

Parking and access

Visitors can enter the park via Scenic Drive, or Park Road.  A new 600m access road off Scenic Drive will connect visitors to the new West Ridge carpark area, west of the main Park Hub.

The careful design sets the parking area into the landscape, moving the majority of the vehicles from the visitor precinct keeping the footprint to a minimum and maximised tree retention, minimising visual impact and ensuring ease of access to trails and park facilities. The West Ridge carpark will provide for approximately 350 car and long vehicle bays catering for high visitor numbers experienced in busy periods. 

The bridge will connect the West Ridge carpark to the new Park Hub over Glen Brook. The Glen Brook bridge will be an iconic, architecturally designed bridge meeting access for all requirements. The bridge will cater for people walking and riding bikes, with reflection points to absorb the spectacular views and interpretive stories, and deliver visitors directly into the Park Hub.

A trailhead with trail information, shade and picnic facilities will be located next to the West Ridge carpark providing direct access to the park’s new and redeveloped trails, including the popular Railway Reserves Heritage Trail.

More parking for ACROD permit holders, and buses, schools and groups will be provided immediately adjacent to the Park Hub ensuring visitors with the greatest mobility access needs are catered for.

Landscaping and gardens

Landscaped areas adjacent to the Park Hub will include botanical and demonstration gardens, spaces for events and picnicking, accessible picnic areas, nature and sensory play and an amphitheatre. 

A six-seasons cultural garden to the west of the Park Hub has been proposed in consultation with traditional owners, and will include informal and mixed planting to educate visitors on the bush landscape it emulates featuring species endemic to the park and the Darling Scarp.

The Park Hub roof terrace will showcase additional plants in a controlled and accessible environment while assisting to passively cool the building below.

The amphitheatre and accessible picnic area, to the east of the Park Hub on the site of the former tavern, will provide an accessible and diverse outdoor event space where landscape and culture can be interpreted through performances, music and storytelling.

The terrace to the north of the Park Hub, including the Margaret Forrest Centre, will be a multi-functional, landscaped outdoor area able to accommodate large events and group gatherings. The terrace will be constructed around soft landscaping, shade and an all-abilities nature play space, providing an alternate, family-friendly experience.

Thank you for your feedback on the John Forrest National Park schematic designs. Public comments on the plans have now closed. Your comments have been collated and provided to the consultant for consideration in the next phase of design. Please continue to follow this page to stay up to date with project development.

Latest news

John Forrest National Park Improvement Project FAQs

Why couldn’t the tavern building be retained as part of the new design?

The lease to operate the John Forrest (Wildflower) Tavern expired on 31 May 2022 and the tavern has now closed.  DBCA was liaising with the tavern lessees for many years in preparation for this change, which was outlined in the park management plan as far back as 1994.

Repurposing the tavern building is not achievable due to the age and condition of the building, presence of asbestos, likelihood of contaminated soils from the waste treatment system, cost of rebuilding, and difficulty integrating the building with other proposed works given its location and style.

The schematic designs presented by Gresley Abas have identified an alternative use of the tavern site, being access for all picnic facilities and an amphitheatre for community use adjacent to Jane Brook.

Is there anywhere in the park to buy food and drinks? 

While the new Park Hub is being constructed, visitors will be able to buy food and drinks from food vans which DBCA will license to operate in the park.  A coffee van has already started visiting the park during peak periods.

DBCA will process other applications to operate coffee and food vans in the park on request and interested businesses are encouraged to contact DBCA.

Once the new café has been constructed, DBCA will offer a management lease via a publicly advertised, competitive process.  

What will be done to ensure the welfare of the kangaroos?

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 health and 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.

What consultation was done with traditional owners?

The architect, Gresley Abas, and DBCA ran a series of four traditional owner consultation workshops between February and May 2022 to fully understand the cultural heritage values, stories and sites of significance and ensure they were reflected in the schematic designs and in interpretation opportunities.

An Aboriginal heritage site survey and report was also completed to ensure no sites of significance would be disturbed.

Trail improvements

Thanks to $2.5 million in WA Recovery Plan funding, upgrades are also underway to hiking trails and a new off-road cycling adventure trail. Access with viewing facilities at Hovea Falls is due to be completed by mid-2023.The park’s upgraded trail network will include trails suitable for all ages, fitness levels and abilities.

Some works are already completed including the sealing of the Jane Brook promenade loop and upgrades to the Glen Brook trail including new steps, foot bridges and drainage which have improved the walking experience and reduce long-term maintenance requirements.

Off-road cycling is increasing in popularity and the new off-road cycling adventure trail will capitalise on this growing user market and give people yet another reason to visit John Forrest National Park.

Trail Network Concept Plan

In 2021, DBCA applied the eight-stage trails development process to develop the John Forrest National Park Trails Network Concept Plan.

The plan aims to establish an accessible, coherent and intuitive trail network within the national park that can be enjoyed by a range of trail users. Trails will start from the Park Hub and showcase the unique natural attributes of the park’s landscape.

Download the John Forrest National Park Trails Network Concept Plan (PDF 11.55MB)

Page reviewed 31 Oct 2022