Now here’s a central spot to base yourself for forays into the delightful Swan Valley or up into the Darling Ranges. The now residential suburb of Bellevue, about 20km north-east of Perth’s CBD, actually sits right at the base of the ranges, and a short drive will take you up into John Forrest National Park.
A rugged expanse of natural bush, the park has some lovely streams, waterfalls and safe swimming holes, picnicking and BBQ areas, and WA’s oldest licensed premises in the Mahogany Inn, which has been operating since 1837.
This 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 today.