It’s World Heritage Day! In the late 1920s, the founder of the Young Australia League JJ “Boss” Simons was drawn to this valley in pursuit of his dream to create a weekend retreat where YAL members could experience the outdoor life. The YAL took over the Park with little to no infrastructure apart from tracks left as a result of timber clearing during the 1800s.
Over the course of 20+ years, the YAL constructed more than 30 buildings and structures, using locally-sourced materials. These buildings and structures, including log cabins, water features, and pergolas, highlight the spirit of community and dedicated efforts of the YAL. Today, interpretive panels throughout the Park complement these historic landmarks.
Some of the notable heritage structures in the Park include the Margaret Simons Pergola, which was established in the late 1930s and remains one of the largest pergolas in the southern hemisphere. The Chalet Healy Tea Rooms, built in Canadian log cabin style using granite foundations and chimneys, was established as a tearoom in 1937 and now operates as a café in spring, overlooking the Stinton Creek. The Totterdell Cottage, built in 1931, serves as the administration building and was originally built for Jack Italiano, the stonemason who helped Boss Simons build the stone colonnades for the Park’s original structures.
Additionally, Aspro Cottage, built in the 1930s, is complemented by an original terraced garden cut into the hillside north of the head of the Grove, built from funds donated by the Aspro family. The Round House, originally the cookhouse for the Arlauen pioneers, has since been renovated and restored with a tile roof in keeping with the consistency of the other buildings.
There are currently more than 30 heritage buildings and structures in the Park. These are a magnificent collection of West Australian history and always spark awe and interest to the many visitors who flock to the Park. The log cabins and structures are a reflection of the spirit of the community and years of dedicated efforts of the YAL and the Araluen Botanic Park Foundation, its staff, and volunteers. We encourage you to take time to read the interpretive signs around the Park on your next visit to learn more about our rich history.
Top image: Log Cabin 1935
Centre left: The Sheperdson Cottage 1935
Centre right: Margaret Simons Pergola (date unknown)
Bottom left: YAL Band c1930s
Bottom right: Totterdell Cottage 1954