PERTH, WA. I turned left on Fraser Avenue and followed the signs towards Kings Park. I barely took a few steps before having to stop. There it was: sweet nostalgia with a head note of exotic escape. What is that scent? Lemongrass? Lime? Where was I exactly, entering one of the world’s largest inner city hidden natural treasures, or a garden that one may find somewhere in South East Asia? What a magnificent thing contextual perception is; it can transport you between places with a mere tease of the senses. In a calm oblivion, I let my scent take over, allowing the imposing coppery trees lining up Fraser Avenue to tell me the story of the land. They are lemon-scented gums, and they are lined up like soldiers at a ceremony, commemorating the royal colonial ties of the country.
The grand entrance to the park will lead you to the State War Memorial, a perfect spot for stunning panoramic views of Perth and a quick brunch at Botanical Cafe. I had the smashed avocado and feta (which has become kind of a staple morning treat on my trips Down Under, may I add) paired together perfectly with an iced blended mocha. At more than a thousand acres, trust me: you’ll be glad you fuelled up!
What stands out here is how versatile the terrain feels, like an augmented reality it can transport you from feeling you’re anywhere from a beach, to a forest, or perhaps a peaceful garden. Only you can walk around and see where the sandy paths may take you. You could enter the park from different avenues, going up, climbing, shifting from paved roads to dusty terrains. From joining trails filled with people strolling or bird watching, to feeling like the land is deserted and you are its only explorer.
I decided against following any maps; I wanted to get lost. With stunning views and a plethora of tiny trails, this felt like the perfect place to embark on an adventure. The park is a thriving assembly of culture and history; it has the largest collection of memorials out of any park in Australia, a stunning botanical garden at its centre, and treasures of Indigenous history and storytelling all throughout. What will you discover?
I opted for a sandy road (not the best idea considering I was wearing a pair of beautiful new shoes, but hey, adventures are all about letting your guard down!) Halfway through, I stopped, yet again, frozen in awe. I took off my sunglasses. Looking in the distance, you might think it’s the sea you’re watching with its beautiful waves crashing into the horizon. Upon further investigation, you notice it’s actually the sky, clouds covering the earth like a blanket of feathers. The sky reflects into the water and the water inundates the skies, the soft blue tones blurred into something you can’t quite recognize. What a beautiful sight; there is a certain magic to the way nature sometimes entrances you with its visual romance.
Yep, those are clouds at the bottom.
Only a few meters up, the branches of the trees, like fingers reaching to touch the convoy of birds floating on the rushing clouds, almost feel eerie. The greenery underneath, enveloping the trunks like a soft fabric, makes way for the tiny insects crawling upwards on their quest towards the top of the tree – perhaps the bark is sweeter there – the uneven ruptures occasionally inviting them for some shade and protection and the chirping sounds at the top signaling that they’re on the right way.
With the ocean as spectacle, I kept walking towards the horizon. Occasionally, you could hear sudden movements in the patches of grass nearby, a gentle reminder that you’re not alone, the gatekeepers of the grounds making way for you to pass, perhaps scared, or simply inviting. A gentle theme of coexisting omnipresent in the murmur of the surrounding landscape. I close my eyes and imagine how this looked like 500 years back, or maybe a thousand. I thought about our Aboriginal ancestors, and their connectedness with the land, the flora and fauna essential for their survival. I wonder if it really was that much different; what kind of tiny animals were roaming around, perhaps they too went at the edge of the lookout enjoying the sunset, and just like us made their way strolling towards the ocean.
I will be honest with you, I love urban life. I love its charm and cosmopolitan flair. At the same time, I am forever drawn to nature – you can never compare the experience of walking quietly through a forest after it rained, or the sound of waves crashing on a beach at sunset, with anything that the city could ever offer. So it is only fitting that when you find such a beautiful landscape, that has the ability to immerse you into a natural adventure, right in the middle of a large, urban area, you’ll get me hooked.
Perth, you’re doing it right.
I truly enjoyed getting lost today.
Have you ever visited a park in the middle of a large city that has left an impression of you? I’d love to hear about it.