Kings Park plays such an integral part in my memories of growing up in Perth: playing in the adventure playground with its wobbly tree trunk stepping-stone across a lake to an island (the stepping stones are long-since gone), picnics with my family when I was on day-release from boarding school, ‘jogging’ on the tracks for fitness while I was at Uni (ha! the only reason I run is if I’m being chased by a bear), climbing the steps of the DNA tower, champagne and chicken breakfasts overlooking the city, New Year’s Eve for the millennium at the restaurant in the park, trying to walk home from that evening and realising the park was bigger than we thought it was…
Perth’s early settlers showed great foresight in setting aside 1000-odd acres of bushland on the edge of the city for public open space. If it hadn’t been designated as such, this area would definitely be Perth’s prime residential real estate and would probably be covered with multi-story apartment buildings, each competing for what are truly outstanding views over the Swan River, the city and east to the hills which form the Darling Escarpment.
Anyway, as we walked back to the car from the walkway, we passed the Pioneer Women’s Memorial fountains.
This particular area of the park has hosted many of the picnics I remember. And yes, the lawn is always that green and flawless. I have no idea how they manage to do that?
I have a feeling this pond is also site of one of my younger brother’s unauthorised swims as a toddler.
I’ve always known the history of this fountain but this time, as I wandered by it I had a renewed admiration for what it stood for.
Over the past few weeks I’ve started researching the lives of the women who settled our nation voluntarily, as background for a vague idea of a writing project. I’ve been trying to understand what would it have been like to leave the comforts of your home and extended family in Britain to board a ship for a long voyage around the world, not knowing what waited for you at the other end.
One of the sources I’ve been reading is a collection of the letters of Eliza Brown*, an early settler to the Swan River Colony. Most of the letters were written to her father at home in England and they convey in detail the trials and tribulations of her new life all written in a formal and considered manner.
Of course, the timeliness of correspondence was at the mercy of shipping schedules. One line from a letter to her father which affected me in reading it was:
We have now been four months in the Colony and not received a line from home, the only letter that has come to hand from a relative is one from Mr. Brown’s Brother Wm. which communicated the tidings of poor William’s death, the circumstance was touched upon more in the way of a passing remark that with any idea that it would be the source from which we should first hear the melancholy intelligence.
And thus, she learnt of her brother’s death.