Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park (RTNKP) is proving to be a much-loved destination for families and school groups, with 100,000 visitors passing through its gates in the past twelve months. An average of 8,000 visitors per month, peaking at around 14,000 during school holiday periods, includes many first-time visitors as well as a growing number of ‘regulars’.
The first formal visitor survey in RTNKP revealed 94% of respondents were either very satisfied or satisfied with their visit. The most common highlights of their visits included Paperbark Creek, the water bodies and the upside-down trees in The Tangle. The survey builds on the substantial ad hoc feedback received from families, teachers, grandparents and other visitors.
Now in its second year, RTNKP has continued to refine its operations and harness opportunities to engage further with visitors and the wider community to build on its early success.
The Nature Activity Officers in RTNKP actively engage with the visitors guiding them with nature related activities to enrich their visit and enhance their connection with the local environment. A range of planned activities were trialled during school holiday periods. Children took part in decorating trees in the Prickly Thicket in December 2012 and during the May 2013 school holiday period a series of activities were held in conjunction with the Threatened Species Network. Kanyana Wildlife and Birds of Prey WA were engaged to promote a ‘Love your Local Wildlife’ theme and these activities were in high demand from visitors.
A significant increase in visitation from school groups occurred in the first half of 2013, with at least three classes per day coming though the public area of RTNKP following participation in a Kings Park Education program in the outdoor bush classrooms in the Education zone. During these visits, the Nature Activity Officers run activities designed to complement the particular education program the group has undertaken. The mix of formal education programs and ‘free time’ for students is proving to be highly successful. Refer to the Education and Interpretation section for more information on the activities of Kings Park Education.
Funding partners Rio Tinto and Water Corporation contribute to the annual operating funding for RTNKP which assists the BGPA to deliver education programs and site maintenance.
All RTNKP sponsors, including Friends of Kings Park, Lotterywest, Perth Solar Cities Program, Rio Tinto and Water Corporation work with BGPA staff to implement the communications strategy for the site. In 2012/13, communications activities included implementing a social media strategy, holding a stakeholder event to mark the first anniversary of the landscape opening (November 2012), ongoing proactive media and a family day for the employees of each corporate partner (June 2013). Refer to the Community Engagement section for more information on BGPA sponsorships.
The BGPA has implemented an intensive site maintenance program. Planned closure of the site on Mondays and throughout February allowed BGPA to identify issues and undertake necessary maintenance which included replacement of cubby building materials and soft-fall mulch and re-painting of timber structures and the toilet block.
Risk management continues to be a focus for this unique facility. Regular maintenance and frequent review of the site have identified areas for improvement and where active management is required. Specific risk management activity in 2012/13 included:
Ongoing monitoring of water quality in each of the water bodies with weekly samples tested by an external laboratory. Paperbark Creek was excavated to remove surplus sand and maintain water depth, stocks of river rocks were replenished and advanced water plants were planted on the creek margins.
Successful mosquito control through the introduction of native Western Pygmy Perch to the water bodies.
Site access – improvements with a new limestone pathway installed in Paperbark Creek, existing limestone pathways re-graded and top-dressed.
Replacement of all ropes in ‘The Tangle’.
Installation of an aerial harness system was installed on Illyarrie Shelter to allow safe access to the roof for maintenance.
Yearly inspection of trees and structures.
Refer to the Risk Management section for more information on BGPA’s risk management activity.
A total of 367 trees representing 64 species were planted throughout the Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park site, with 4,285 local native tube stock also planted to enhance existing conservation areas in this site. The initial plantings of 120 tree species the previous year proved to be very successful with these trees establishing well. Rewarding displays of the State’s floral emblem, the Red and Green Kangaroo Paw, flourished during the spring of 2012.
A joint project with BGPA Science staff enabled Horticultural staff to trial the establishment of water lilies from the Kimberley region in the Water Corporation Wetland. The plants performed well once young plants were protected from predation by ducks, flowering and producing seed for collection and further propagation. The future objective is for these plants to be established and displayed in other water bodies within the site and elsewhere in Kings Park for visitor enjoyment and interpretation.
The success of the RTNKP site to date is highlighted by a series of notable awards in recognition of the landscape design and construction. More information is available in the Achievements and Recognition section.
2012 Kings Park Festival
The 2012 Kings Park Festival ‘Wildflowers in Focus’ was from 1 September to 7 October 2012. This Festival showcased the spectacular displays of spring wildflowers throughout Kings Park and especially in the Western Australian Botanic Garden with a particular focus on wildflower photography.
The financial support received from major partner Santos and from Lotterywest through the Friends of Kings Park, was critical to the Festival’s success. A media partnership with The West Australian newspaper assisted with targeting a family audience and increasing community awareness of the Festival.
Six of the popular Santos Live Sundays events were held during the 2012 Festival featuring an exciting array of local musical talent including swing bands, acoustic, folk, jazz, funk and blues bands. The live music performed during the month created the perfect atmosphere for visitors to enjoy the beautiful spring weather in the Western Australian Botanic Garden.
Kings Park’s signature wildflower characters the Adorable Florables, once again featured at the Festival with a new stage performance ‘Say Photo-synthesis’. The Adorable Florables also provided roving entertainment during the ‘Santos Live Sundays’. The characters showcased Western Australia’s magnificent flora and fauna through dance and narration, delivering important conservation messages.
The Connect with Kings Park series of public workshops have again proven to be successful. For the first time in 2012, the workshops were run in conjunction with UWA Extension. These events offered a variety of experiences to encourage visitors to develop their environmental skills and creative talents. The program comprised lectures, hands on workshops and interactive walks and talks.
As part of the 2012 Kings Park Festival, a number of special events were hosted by the Kings Park Education team. The Festival Poster Exhibition attracted entries from both primary and secondary schools and nineteen posters were selected and exhibited in the Western Australian Botanic Garden. Schools’ Art Week saw students join artist-in-residence Dee Jaeger to create unconventional flower sculptures.
Quiz On Legs was held on 26 September 2012 with 1,150 primary school students participating in the event. Thirty leading environmental educators created interactive stations at this expo-style event, with a range of activities, performances and displays for the students to enjoy. Extremely positive feedback was received from the schools and organisations that participated.
More than 620,000 visitors participated in a variety of family days, educational and interpretive opportunities including workshops, outdoor exhibits, guided walks, live theatre and hands-on activities on offer during the 2012 Kings Park Festival. A visitor survey revealed that 81% of visitors rated their overall Festival experience as very good with scores of 4 or more out of 5. The entertainment program was one of the most popular (4.2 out of 5) highlights of the Festival, with the ground cleanliness being the highest rated service for the Festival (4.6 out of 5).
Planning has commenced for the 2013 Kings Park Festival celebrating 50 years of Wildflower Festivals in Kings Park and Botanic Garden.
Bold Park Car Park Upgrade
Two of the main carparks in Bold Park, Tuart and Camel Lake, were upgraded during the year to improve visitor access, clearly define the entry points and protect the mature remnant trees from the impacts of erosion and compaction.
After being deferred the previous year to enable higher priority activities to be completed, these works were completed in April 2013 for a total cost of $350,000. Works included rationalisation of the layout, bituminised surface with over 50 marked bays, upgraded fencing, bicycle racks and other visitor facilities. Camel Lake Carpark also incorporates a dedicated bus drop off zone to improve access for schools and other groups. Local native trees were planted around the car parks to enhance the sites.
Kings Park Nursery and Depot Upgrade
Planning was progressed on an upgrade to the Kings Park Nursery and Depot area with the appointment of a design consultant team led by Armstrong Parkin Architects in December 2012. A concept design was prepared for a comprehensive scope of works but had to be revised to enable staging to match the $2 million construction budget for stage one.
A revised scope and concept design was endorsed by the Board in June 2013, with proposed works including a new road to improve access and safety, separation of the nursery and depot functions, revised layout to improve functional relationships and access and replacement of some of the ageing sheds and other facilities. Construction is scheduled to be completed during 2013/14.
Saw Avenue Picnic Area Stage Two
Planning has commenced for the second stage of improvements to the Saw Avenue Picnic Area in Kings Park. A concept masterplan was endorsed by the Board of Management in June 2013, which includes an expansion of the existing adventure play elements and themed artworks, additional universal access paths through the area, upgraded barbecue and picnic facilities on both the western and eastern sides of Saw Avenue and a new link path from the bus stop on Thomas Street through to May Drive. Additional planting will also enhance the area and provide future shade.
This project is generously supported by Variety WA and is planned to be largely completed during 2013/14 and launched around August 2014.
The BGPA continued its international consultancy projects in the Middle East with the major focus on ecological restoration and landscape conservation in Saudi Arabia.
In what is the largest arid lands restoration trial of its kind in the Middle East, irrigation infrastructure was installed over a 16 hectare area, followed by planting of 45,000 seedlings native to Saudi Arabia and direct sowing of over 50,000 native seeds into the trial area. The trial was designed by BGPA staff based on leading principles of horticulture and restoration science developed by Kings Park with trial monitoring implemented using state-of-the-art physiological equipment. All works were overseen by BGPA staff who also conducted on site training for trial and nursery staff in Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the BGPA provided advice on the establishment and fit out of a seed centre for restoration purposes in Saudi Arabia and developed a concept plan for a new nursery.
In a parallel project, BGPA staff have completed a major report for the Riyadh Province government on management of native plant cover across its 412,000 square kilometres jurisdiction in central Arabia. This Scoping Study is Phase One of a plan to develop an integrated strategic program to deliver: a biodiversity conservation reserve network, sustainable rangeland management, ecosystem restoration, urban conservation planning, and environment awareness, training and education. BGPA has since been invited to lead a second phase, strategic and implementation planning, for ultimate delivery of this ambitious and wide-ranging vision.
Achievements and Recognition
The BGPA received recognition from several highly regarded sources in 2012/13. These achievements are attributed to the BGPA’s commitment to delivering a high calibre visitor destination and long-term sustainability.
2012 Infinity Award – This was awarded for a Kings Park recycling program that has reduced the park’s green waste to zero, acknowledging the BGPA as a leader in innovation and waste reduction.
The initiative produces high quality composted mulch from bulk green waste generated in Kings Park. The product is recycled as mulch throughout the park, eliminating the need for off-site disposal of green waste. More information about the green waste management program can be found in the Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration section.
Green Flag Award - The Green Flag Award is recognised internationally for the highest standard for parks and green spaces. The scheme has been recently introduced to Australia, and recognises well-managed, high quality green spaces that are managed in environmentally sustainable ways. Kings Park and Botanic Garden was commended for its leading practices; in particular the outstanding volunteer program, high standard of safety, welcoming facilities, excellent management of the environment and historical features and innovative sustainability practices.
2012 WA Tourism Awards – Kings Park and Botanic Garden received the Silver Award for Major Tourist Attraction. These awards are highly competitive amongst Western Australia’s top tourist attractions and services and this award is a significant recognition.
TripAdvisor – For the second consecutive year Kings Park and Botanic Garden has been voted Perth's number one attraction on global travel website, TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor reviewers gave Kings Park an average rating of 4.5 out of 5, the highest of the 74 Perth attractions listed on the site.
Of the other 73 Perth attractions, a further five are also located within Kings Park. The State War Memorial ranked in second place and the views from Fraser Avenue were in fourth place. The Lotterywest Federation Walkway rated 21st, the Pioneer Women's Memorial 25th and new entrant Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park entered the top 50 Perth attractions this year at number 40.
Kings Park and Botanic Garden also ranked as the 12th best park world-wide and the State War Memorial in Kings Park and Botanic Garden ranked within the top 10 Australian Landmarks.
Recent Kings Park and Botanic Garden projects have also resulted in awards for design and sustainability, recognising the commitment of the BGPA and project collaborates to deliver world-class facilities.
Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park – Landscape architects Plan E received two awards from the Australian Institute of Landscape Architecture (AILA):
AILA National 2012 Project Awards: Design Excellence – Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park.
AILA (WA) 2012 Project Awards: Landscape Design - Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park AILA Western Australia, Landscape Architecture Award 2012.
Landscape architects Plan E and construction contractors LD Total jointly received an award from the Landscape Industries Association Western Australia (LIAWA):
Landscape Industries Association Western Australian, 2012 Awards of Excellence: Winner Sustainable Landscapes – Commercial - Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park (LD Total and Plan E)
Construction contractors LD Total received an award from the Landscape Industries Association Western Australia (LIAWA):
Landscape Industries Association Western Australian, 2012 Awards of Excellence: Winner Contractor – Commercial/Civic – More than $1m (LD Total)
Place of Reflection – The Place of Reflection in the Botanic Garden has received global recognition for its innovative design, featured on World Landscape Architecture website, and awards for excellence in design including:
AILA (WA) 2012 Project Awards: Design Excellence – Place of Reflection, Kings Park, Plan E.
IES Lighting Awards 2012: Award of Commendation - Engineering Technology Consultants (ETC) and Plan E, for The Place of Reflection’s unique lighting installation.
Friends of Kings Park – Friends of Kings Park volunteer Dr Tony Scalzo, won the prestigious Members of Parliament 2012 Volunteer Award for the Environment and was honoured as Volunteer of the Year.
The awards were presented by the Hon. Julie Bishop in a ceremony recognising and celebrating the remarkable dedication of volunteers in the Curtin Electorate.
Dr Scalzo has given eighteen years of volunteer service to Kings Park, a significant contribution to both community and environment. He is co-leader of the Kings Park Bushland Carers, editor of ‘For People and Plants’ magazine and an active member of the Growing Friends.
The Friends of Kings Park were recognised as one of ten finalists in the inaugural Orange Seed Project in 2012, which provides financial and marketing support to not-for-profit organisations in Western Australia.
More information about the activities of the Friends of Kings Park and other BGPA volunteer groups can be found in Appendix 2.
BGPA Staff Achievements – Two senior BGPA staff received important acknowledgement for achievements in their respective fields:
The BGPA’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Webb, was a recipient of a Public Sector Medal in the 2013 Australia Day Honours for “outstanding public service to the Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority in Perth, Western Australia”.
BGPA’s Director Science, Dr Kingsley Dixon, received the Linnean Medal from the Linnean Society of London (awarded for service to science).