The Roleystone Valley Website

Serving the Western Australian Roleystone Community


Araluen Botanic Gardens

JOHN JOSEPH SIMONS (1882-1948) was committed to social improvement, Australian nationalism and the Labor Party. A confident, charismatic figure he was an advocate of military and industrial self-reliance and an organizer of 'Buy Australian' campaigns. As secretary of the Western Australian National Football League in 1905-14 and founder of the Young Australia Football League (1905) he consolidated Australian Rules football in Western Australia.

Aided by Lionel Boas and others, John Simons established the Young Australia League in 1905 to promote 'education through travel'. It developed rapidly as a patriotic, independent, non-political, non-sectarian organization. Interstate and overseas tours were organised and other activities included literature, debating, band music, sport and theatrical performances. Whilst the Y.A.L. featured military trappings ie bands, banners, uniforms, and tight discipline on tour, relaxation was encouraged.

Simons was called the 'Boss'. After World War I he formed interstate branches.

The Araluen gardens, a memorial to members killed in action, were constructed in the 1930s. In 1929 the League concluded negotiations for the purchase of a 150 acres property in the Darling Scarp in the Canning River Valley at Roleystone. This property was named “Araluen” and dedicated to the service of youth in 1930 by the then Governor of Western Australia, Sir William Campion. The development of this property was undertaken with the help of members. “The Grove of the Unforgotten” was a significant structure that was dedicated to the memory of 88 members who paid the ultimate sacrifice during World War I. Altogether 500 members of the Y.A.L. volunteered for active service. Simons named the valley 'Araluen' an aboriginal word meaning 'singing waters' in acknowledgement of the many creeks that ran through the site. Accomodation featuring local stone and timbers was built and members engaged in building roads, paths and terraces and improving the permananent water courses.

A series of water falls and ponds fringed by a grove of trees forms one of the world's most beautiful war memorials, displaying the Australian flag set in tiles and the names of fallen YAL members on a plague.

Araluen is effectively a war memorial and a heritage area. It should be given protection by the State, but sadly we find the future of Araluen to be a matter of controversy despite it being a unique and popular tourist destination in Perth and the Roleystone Hills.

Araluen features wonderful rock and timber pergolas, reflection ponds and 1930s style timber cottages and buildings. All evocative of the time when Araluen was an exotic escape from the hot and sandy coastal plain. Set in a cool valley, with permanent flowing creeks, amongst tall jarrah and blackbutt trees the campsite in the hills must have enthralling. Approached by a winding road along the Canning valley the scenic values of this area are unequalled around Perth. You can walk the trails and view the dramatic rock walls and constructions and imagine the smell of campfires and camp cooking drifting through the forest and the chatter of excited campers mixing with the babble of the creek.

Araluen is maintained by enthusastic volunteers and features a mix of native and exotic plants which thrive in the cool valley location. The Tulip Festival held each year in spring is a truly stunning sight.

Araluen is a heritage site and garden treasure which must be maintained into the future.

Tulip Festival

Egg and bacon plant

Tree Ferns

Wattle Flowers

Grand old grasstrees

Flowering gum


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