On Wednesday the 9th of November it’s our birthday! Although the Park was founded in 1929, it did not open to the public until 1937. With over 90 years of history, this 85th birthday is a momentous occasion for Araluen and the local community.
In 1929, founder J.J. “Boss” Simons purchased the land now known as Araluen Botanic Park on behalf of the Young Australia League. The Park was named Araluen, an Aboriginal word meaning “singing waters,” “running waters,” or “place of lilies.” YAL members created pathways, roads, steps and terraces. Over 30 structures were designed by leading Perth architect W.G. Bennet and built from local stone and timber.
When Simons established the Young Australia League in 1905, his mission was to promote education through travel, and to foster ideal of tolerance and friendship. Interstate tours and international sporting tours took place from 1911 until 1929. Over Simons’ lifetime an estimated 50,000 people toured with the Y.A.L. This indicates the profound impact and influence Simons’ had on West Australian youth.
Simons also had an interest and expertise in media and journalism. Simons and Victor Courtney had founded the weekly Call in 1918, where Simons managed advertising. Simons and Courtney also published the weekly Mirror, from 1921, which outsold the Call. With clear success in these publications, Simons, Courtney and others purchased Perth’s Sunday Times for 55,000 pounds in 1935. Simons became the managing director of the Sunday Times, and Western Press Ltd and Country Newspapers Ltd expanded, with three metro newspapers and over 30 country newspapers.
Simons’ contribution to the West Australian community is significant on a personal level and as a legacy. He was involved in politics, in the local community, and a significant figure in one of Perth’s most well-known publications. Araluen is proud to be a part of this history and honoured to be celebrating 85 years.