King’s Park in the heart of Perth is part park and part forest. The Noongar’s serpent god, the Woggle, arches across the bay road, winding itself up to the War Memorial. On some evenings, a haze rises up from the river as the serpent god does its rounds around King’s Park where it was born. It’s believed that the serpent god makes the river water pure and protects the locals from impurities.
Paths wind around the bush land. Paved trails or bush trails. They all connect. Getting lost is fun. The roads, paths, or bush tracks always leads to the hub of the park, the Botanic Gardens with its great viewing points of the city at the top. At night, the city glows in changing pastel colors and the bridge across the river bridges the north and south with an abstract stroke of soft white light.
Most of my walks are in the evening. I cut into the park at the top end. And then I follow a paved path. At night time, it’s quiet and isolated. The park is dedicated to the diggers who died in far flung wars almost a century ago. A plaque is left at the base of large eucalyptus trees. The founders tried to plant English trees but they couldn’t survive the harsh conditions of Western Australia.
I slog up a hill. I turn left and follow another path. It’s been burnt out and is rejuvenating, burnt out trees and a soft sunset gives this part of the park Apocalypse feel. I’ve reached a main road through the park, and cut across it down a dirt path. Then I’ve reached the humps of the serpent and make my way up to the top of the park, and cut a right down a grassy lawn with a pond and fountain to a path that leads me to the river. I pass under a nature bridge that is at canopy height. I’ll get around to exploring that another day. Then I reach the river and scare a few ducks or admire the swans floating in a swirling desert sunset. There’s always boats rowing on the river and the voice of their efforts carries up the Eliza Hill. It’s so quiet at night time. The occasional car will pass through. Lovers might stop for a hit from their crack pipe. I just keep on walking. The park is vast and isolated. One night a helicopter flew over the park and I could see torch lights flashing in the bush.
I walk around King’s Park as often as I can. It’s a place of refuge. When I get off work early I do a day walk through the dirt paths. A kookaburra perched on a tree laughs at me. The black boys are hidden under a mop of thin stringy hair. Native flowers flash in purples, yellows and reds and wattle flowers of different colors just amaze you every time you look at them.
It’s a park with multiple exits. Night times it’s just you against nature. Your worse fears can jump at you on a remote path. It’s going to be ok. The tourists are all at the top of the park. Where I go, it’s just me and the bush. It’s so quiet. It’s dark. Some patches are darker and foreboding than others. At the top of the park, I make my way down the homestretch.
Every day is different. The manicured lawns feel good on foot, and so does the sand of the tracks. Down by the river, I pay my respect to the Lady of the Swan. She might be decorated for a special occasion. She stands two meters in the river, on a pedestal. Nearby the blue boat house is a tourist attraction for the mostly Asians who pose for selfies.
It’s so easy just to escape in King’s Park. The DNA tower, a spiral helix with a double set of sets, is a good place for seeing the river and the long greenway that cuts up to another botanical garden. I take a selfie and move on. The Kadoka Trail is another challenging path through the bush – I’ll leave that for another day. Or Jacob’s Ladder, strictly steps, is for the hard core fitness freak wanting to burn some fat. Been there and done that.
King’s Park is Perth’s lung. It’s a park for the people. I let myself go here most nights and come back invigorated. Imagine a forest in the heart of a city. It’s real and you can never get lost. There are exists everywhere. I’ll explore the Kadoka trail soon. I keep away from Jacob’s Ladder. I find the long hard walks better than the hard gutsy walk up steps.
Once in the arms of the park, nature takes over. It’s not an over the top Botanical Garden. It’s really all about the Australian bush. I haven’t seen any kangaroos or wallabies but one night saw a rabbit run across the path. Perth has got this one right.
I really hate my long walks. No pain no gain. I figure there are worse things to do. Aches and pains but I just plug away. I’ve still got so many paths to explore. Now where will this one take me?
Give King Park a try. She calls me most nights. When I miss a walk I feel empty and bereft. I think she’s got a pull on me. I’m still exploring. I’ll keep on pounding the pavements. What better place to get lost in your thoughts than in the arms of mother nature.
She’s a Queen of Parks. I think I might just keep exploring her.