Visit the Perth Hills to discover one of Australia’s oldest conservation areas. Established in 1900, John Forrest National Park covers 2,700 hectares of bushland and is home to some very friendly kangaroo! Originally called Greenmount National Park and later changed in 1947 to honour the state’s first premier, it is Western Australia’s oldest national park and one of Perth’s favourite day trip destinations.

Views from John Forrest National Park

Set amongst Jarrah and Marri trees, most of the park remains in its natural state. It is a beautiful spot for picnics and hiking and features several walking trails. You can also view the only historical railway tunnel in WA – the Swan View Tunnel which follows the tracks of the old railway line to York.

There are outstanding views of Perth and the Swan Coastal Plain from the lookout point on the scenic drive, and the park is home to two waterfalls – Hovea Falls and National Park Falls. The best time to view the waterfalls are from July to September. Subject to rainfall, both are a beautiful sight with water cascading over the orange and grey granite rock.

Hovia Falls

All trails begin from the main picnic area. Both waterfalls are an easy 2km walk from the main picnic area along a flat gravel road.

The 15km Eagle View Trail is the longest of the hiking trails found in the park. The circuit trail offers plenty of spectacular city views as well as an abundance of wildflowers during spring.

⁠⁠WA’s only historic railway tunnel

One of the highlights in John Forrest National Park is the 340-metre long Swan View Tunnel which was built in 1893 by West Australia’s Engineer-in-Chief, C.Y. O’Connor.  Interestingly, until the sinking of Perth’s railway in 2007, this was West Australia’s only ‘true’ railway tunnel.

Swan View Railway Tunnel

The tunnel is part of the Railway Heritage Trail and can be walked or cycled through. Bring a torch, especially if you’re with kids, it’s eerily dark in there! We used our phone to light the way, mostly to avoid puddles.

Feeling energetic? Do the 41km Railway Heritage Trail that retraces the old Eastern Railway that formerly linked Fremantle to York in the late 1880s. Around 6km of the trail passes through John Forrest National Park.

Want to see Kangaroo?

Located in the Darling Ranges about half an hour away from the city, John Forrest National Park is also is the perfect place to get up close and personal with our favourite wildlife; kangaroo!

Home to a group of very chilled out kangaroos – and a tavern. Surprisingly, the two go very well together. In the beer garden of the John Forrest Tavern, you’ll find a mob of kangaroo hanging out almost every day.

Boxing Kangaroos

The staff of the Tavern have even named the roos – there is Manky and Dribbly but these are most definitely wild animals and not tame. They have nothing to do with the pub itself other than making the garden their personal playground

That’s why I think that if you’re looking for where to see kangaroos in Perth, the John Forrest Tavern is a must-do. You can really get up close to a completely wild group.

In fact whilst we were there, we witnessed a couple of kangaroos going for it. Known for their “boxing” skills, male kangaroos often fight to establish dominance or win a mate. Fights consist mostly of balancing on their tails while trying to knock their opponent off balance.


In fact whilst we were there, we witnessed a couple of kangaroos going for it. Known for their “boxing” skills, male kangaroos often fight to establish dominance or win a mate. Fights consist mostly of balancing on their tails while trying to knock their opponent off balance.

Did you know that most kangaroos are left-handed? Based on recent research with red kangaroos, eastern grays, and red-necked wallabies, it has been discovered that the animals are primarily left-handed, using that hand for tasks such as grooming and eating about 95% of the time.

What’s the John Forrest Tavern like?

Some of the reviews of the pub online are less than glowing, and it definitely is rustic, but the beer garden is the place to be if you want an encounter with a kangaroo. We decided not to eat here as the food looked pretty basic – but it’s certainly a great place to take tourists for a beer and wildlife interaction.

Things to know before you go:

  • There is an entry fee per vehicle to the National Park. Best option whether visiting or a WA local is to purchase the Park Pass which covers park entry fees for private vehicles allowing unlimited entry to all parks in Western Australia for the duration of the pass. Holiday Passes are available for 4 weeks, or there is an Annual Pass which is much better value.
    NOTE: RAC members can get a discount on the Holiday Pass, Annual All Parks Pass and the Concession Annual All Parks Pass when you purchase them through the RAC member benefits website
  • There is no camping at John Forrest National Park.
  • The only eating option is at the John Forrest National Park Tavern inside the park. The tavern serves alcoholic beverages as well as tea and coffee. There are also ample lunch and dinner options available that are reasonably priced and child-friendly.
  • Dogs are not permitted inside John Forrest National Park
  • There are no suitable swimming options at John Forrest National Park

Download a Park Guide and Map from the Department of Parks & Wildlife

John Forrest National park flowering

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