Introduction: John Forrest National Park is one of Australia's oldest conservation areas and Western Australia's first national park. The area was first established in 1898 as a reserve to conserve its many natural and cultural features. It became John Forrest National Park in 1947, in honour of the famous WA explorer and statesman. In the early 1900s, visitors came from Perth by rail and alighted from their trains at Hovea Station, a short distance from Hovea Falls, to enjoy a 'day in the bush'. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, sustenance workers built steps, ornamental gardens, walls, footpaths, picnic shelters and swimming areas. The park soon became a sanctuary for city dwellers and remains so for many people today. Recreation: Recreation is an important use of John Forrest National Park. It provides magnificent vistas of the Swan coastal plain and contains walk trails through rugged wilderness, along the old railway line or to quiet pools and spectacular waterfalls. From the main picnic area, follow the old railway track for 750 metres north-east to Hovea Falls, or wander north-west to National Park Falls. Just past the falls is Western Australia's only 'true' railway tunnel. The Swan View Tunnel, built in 1893, is a major feature on the John Forrest Heritage Trail and visitors can walk or cycle through the tunnel. On the western boundary of the park is the Rocky Pool picnic area, which is set among attractive wandoo and paperbark woodland. Here, after winter rains, you can sit and watch the waters of Jane Brook tumble down a series of small rapids into the pool. The park is also close to metropolitan schools. With its big expanses of natural forest and woodlands, it makes the perfect place for nature studies. Some of the department's Nearer to Nature activities are centred there, and further programs will be offered to encourage awareness of the park's many natural and cultural features. Flora and Fauna: A common feature of the park is its granite outcrops fringed by heaths. As the soil here becomes shallow, annuals and herbs abound, with sundews, orchids and resurrection plants growing through the moss swards. Bungarra lizards are often visible in the open on these outcrops as well as on roads and tracks, while western bearded dragons often bask on fallen timber and on roads. Honey possums and western pygmy possums inhabit heathlands next to granite surfaces, and mardos are quite common and sometimes visible by day in forested areas. Woodland birds of the park include the 'twenty-eight' parrots and the less common red-capped parrots, rufous and golden whistlers, western spinebills and New Holland honeyeaters.
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