The history of Araluen Botanic Park
The history of Araluen begins with Australian businessman, politician and founder of the Young Australia League, J.J. “Boss” Simons, establishing a holiday camp for this youth organisation in 1929.
He bought 59 hectares of a north facing valley in Roleystone as the site for his camp. Creeks run through the valley creating a cool moist climate, making it an ideal site for a garden. Simons called his valley Araluen, an Eastern States Aboriginal word meaning “singing waters,” “running waters” or “place of lilies.”
League members and volunteers created paths, roads, steps and terraces. The buildings and structures throughout Araluen were designed by leading Perth architect W.G. Bennett and built from local stone and timber in a Canadian Log Cabin style.
J. J. Simons’ Legacy
The Grove of the Unforgotten still remains today, built in memory of 88 Young Australia League members killed in World War I. The Grove is a series of terraces, framed by pencil pines that form the shape of a lyre, the international symbol of music. Water cascades down the terraces to the pool of reflection.
In spring, Araluen was (as it still is) a sea of colour from the tulips planted on terraces and The Grove of the Unforgotten. Araluen became a popular place for Western Australians and the gardens thrived in Araluen’s unique micro-climate.
In 1985, the Young Australia League sold Araluen. The Araluen Botanic Park Foundation (ABPF) with strong community support persuaded the State Government to purchase the Park in 1990. Over the next 20 years the ABPF worked with the Government to restore and revive Araluen.
Much was achieved in this time, particularly in the restoration of heritage structures, gardens, paths, steps and terraces, as well as in the completion of new capital works programs such as the green central lawn, new carparks, the Forest Deck function area, better communication systems including public Wifi and a Telstra Tower.
Since 2010 Government management responsibility transferred to the Department of Conservation, Biodiversity and Attractions, Parks & Wildlife. ABPF are still managing Araluen on a day to day basis. The ABPF continues to direct it's efforts towards restoring the Park, it's gardens, and planning for the future. With the community’s support, Araluen is fast achieving it's mission to become a Botanic Garden of Excellence.