Yvonne has been an online writer for over eight years and lives in the UK with her family.
Where is Whiteman Park?
Whiteman Park is in the Swan Valley in Western Australia, a short distance outside Perth. A map at the end of this article shows its location.
Conservation Reserve and Bushland Trails
Whiteman Park is 9725 acres or around 40 square kilometers, almost half of which is a conservation reserve. Although in the early 1930s and '40s a substantial proportion of the bushland was cleared for cattle grazing, much of it was left in its natural state and some of the cleared land has been returned to nature. Throughout the park, there are many marked bushwalking trails. There are ticks in the bushes, but these are not dangerous to people unlike those in Eastern Australia. Although there are wild animals, including kangaroos, in this part of the park, they tend to keep away from humans. The best time of day to see kangaroos is at dusk when they come out from trees to eat.
History of Whiteman Park
Whiteman Park is named after Lew Whiteman, who owned much of the land in the area, and used it for grazing cattle and horse riding. He also collected old machinery and vehicles as well as antiques. He died in 1994, and many of the items from his collections relating to transport or development were relocated (at his bequest) to Whiteman Park.
Although Lew Whiteman's family was wealthy they were not landowners, and he only bought his first patch of land in 1939. This was around what is known as the Mussel Pool, and he created picnic areas for the local community. The Mussel Pool was so-called because it used to be full of freshwater mussels. Unfortunately, Whiteman's damming of a brook to create the pool meant that many small fish were no longer able to migrate downstream and in 1999 a "fish ladder" was built to connect the pool and brook once more! It doesn't look much like a ladder but has meant the fish have returned.
Some Main Attractions in Whiteman Park
The area of the park that is not given over to the nature reserve contains a wide variety of attractions including:
- Caversham Wildlife Park
- Transport Museums (a Motor Museum and a Tractor Museum)
- A Railway
- A Tram Line
- A Paddling Pool
- Picnic Area and Barbecues
The park authorities are constantly adding to these attractions, with conservation in mind. A project currently under development is a woodland reserve that will protect the area's wildlife and plant life and will reintroduce locally extinct varieties. Entry into the park is free, and some of the facilities are free, while some are charged.
On our trip to Western Australia we visited Whiteman Park twice: once to stroll around the park and see some of the exhibits at the museums, and once to visit the wildlife park. You could easily do both on the same day instead. We visited in the autumn, which in Western Australia is still very warm, with temperatures of around 30°C on our first visit at the end of March. Our second visit, which was a week later, was on a rare cloudy day.
This article includes a more detailed look at Caversham Wildlife Park and some information about other attractions.
Caversham Wildlife Park
This wildlife park is home to native animals of Australia. It is divided up by regions, so there are areas for North East Australia, South West, North and Southeast. There is also a farm where children can pat farm animals, and there's the kangaroo enclosure. (I'll tell you more about that in a moment.)
A few things make Caversham Wildlife Park different to other wildlife parks. First, in the UK at least, wildlife parks tend to be vast areas where you drive past the animals. Caversham is considerably smaller. In some sections is also considerably more interactive, which is what my daughters and their friend liked so much about it. (Okay, I admit it, I liked that too.)
As we strolled through the first area, the North East, my friend and I soon realised our daughters were lagging behind. That was because one of the parrots said hello to them, and so the girls started saying, "Hello," to all the birds, and were delighted when many of them replied.
Daughters collected, we strolled on past animals we had seen before, such as emus and wombats, and some we had never seen such as the incredibly cute quokka, or the adorable (my daughter's words) Tasmanian Devils.
Meet the Koalas
We also passed several areas which housed koalas. My husband was astonished at the casual (but affectionate) way koalas are treated in Australian wildlife parks and zoos. In the UK, Edinburgh is the only zoo that is home to koalas, where they are kept behind glass and visitors must go past quietly to avoid disturbing them. At Caversham, you get to meet the koalas, and meet them means up close! In fact, you can hug them! My older daughter was in seventh heaven, her delight spoiled only because she couldn't take one home!
Hugging koalas was only surpassed by our visit with the kangaroos. In common with other zoos in Australia, the kangaroo enclosure is a walk-through area. Dotted around the area are feeding stations, where you can collect pellets to feed the kangaroos. (The wildlife park does not charge extra for that, unlike some parks I've visited where you had to pay to feed their animals!)
Our walk through the kangaroo enclosure started off very sedately, with the girls collecting a few pellets and feeding some young kangaroos. Then they hit upon the idea of rolling up the lower part of their tee shirts so that they could use them to carry more pellets. Somehow the kangaroos worked out that the supply was plentiful, and you can see the results in the hilarious photos.
More information about Caversham Wildlife Park
Catering Facilities are fairly basic in Caversham Wildlife Park, with a small kiosk providing snacks such as sandwiches, pies or cakes as well as hot and cold drinks. For a more substantial meal, you'd be better to eat in the cafe outside in Whiteman Park and Caversham allows you to re-enter after doing this.
As well as the chance to meet koala and kangaroos, the wildlife park runs several shows throughout the day that provide encounters with other Australian animals, including wombats, lizards and a python.
The park is open from 9 – 5 every day except Christmas and currently costs 24 Australian dollars for an adult and $10 for a child, with concessions varying between $16 - 17. (Australian dollars are worth marginally more than a US dollar, or around £0.65.)
Some Other Attractions in Whiteman Park
Train, Tram and Bus Rides
The train and tram rides operate around the park during weekends; the tram also runs on Tuesday and Friday and the train on Wednesday and Thursday. Both run all week during school breaks. There is a charge for both of these facilities. The bus rides are free and operate on Mondays only.
Throughout the park, in common with many public spaces in Western Australia, there are barbecue stations available. The barbecues in Whiteman Park cost a dollar and for that, you get 15 minutes to cook your food.
Mussel Pool Picnic Area
Mussel Pond still retains the picnic area that was first developed by Lew Whiteman.
There is a dog park where dogs can play unleashed. In all other parts of the park, dogs must be on a leash.
Mini Water Playground
It was all getting too hot for us pale Brits when we stumbled upon this beautiful pool of water. It is around 30 cm deep and designed for children to splash about in and cool off. We didn't have swimming costumes with us, but that didn't stop one of our daughters! Within seconds she had her shoes off and was in the water. Of course, she got her shorts wet, but it was so hot that day that wet clothes were a blessing. The rest of us were slower to join in but did enjoy dipping our toes in the cool water.
By the mini water playground is a covered picnic area, so you could spend a fair bit of time dipping in and out of the pool. Nearby is a covered traditional children's playground. By that I mean it's on dry ground! You can see it in the background of the lower photo on the right—it's under the yellow canopy. We could have happily stayed in this area much longer than we did, and it would be a great place for families. In fact, it would be a great place for extended families. The older generations could visit the museums while kids and anyone who prefers water playgrounds to cars and tractors could stay by the pool. Actually, that's pretty much what happened with us. Though we didn't make it to the Motor Museum, since the tractor museum is very nearby husband went off to it with his camera and took the photos below of some amazing vehicles and machines.
Our Rating for Whiteman Park
As you can probably tell, we had a great time in Whiteman Park. We didn't get round to visiting the Motor Museum and only walked a little way along the trails, so someday we will head back to Western Australia to enjoy those!
If you are visiting the Perth area of Australia I thoroughly recommend this park. There is such a variety of things to do here and it is a great chance to encounter nature, whether on the bush trails or in the kangaroo enclosure of Caversham!
Extra information about the map
The children's water playground is in the village, as are several craft shops and a café.