John Forrest (1847-1918)

John Forrest, surveyor, explorer and politician, was born on 22 August 1847 at Bunbury, Western Australia. He completed training as an assistant surveyor and joined the WA Survey Office [Landgate since 2007, after five previous name changes] in late 1865.

Forrest led a number of expeditions of exploration to the interior. In 1869 he was selected to lead an expedition in search of the lost Leichhardt 1846 expedition. He led an expedition of six men with twenty horses from Geraldton in 1874 to make a much lauded journey from Geraldton to Peake Hill on the Adelaide to Darwin overland telegraph line.

In 1883 Forrest became Surveyor General, a position that entitled him to a seat on the Executive Council. With responsible government in 1890, he became Western Australia’s first Premier, representing the seat of Bunbury. His time in government was notable for its program of public works. Forrest was knighted in 1891. He served in various additional ministerial roles while Premier until he entered the Federal parliament in 1901 where he was the inaugural Minister for Defence. Forrest served in various ministerial positions, including acting Prime Minister, until 1918 when he journeyed to England to be elevated to the peerage however, he died off the coast of Sierra Leone. His body is interred in Karrakatta Cemetery.

Forrest located and named numerous geographical features during his explorations and numerous features were named after him including:

  • Forrest, a land district in the East Pilbara
  • Forrest Rail Siding and Airport, on the Trans Australian Railway
  • Forrest, a locality named after the Forrest Rail Siding
  • Forrest Beach, in the Capel Shire
  • Forrest River, in the Kimberley
  • Forrest Park in Bunbury, Cottesloe, City of Swan and Town of Vincent
  • Forrest River Mission, in the Kimberley
  • Forrest Rock, an off shore rock in the East Kimberley
  • Forrest Soak, in the Dundas Shire
  • Forrest Spring, in the Busselton Shire
  • Forrest Ward, City of Armadale
  • Forrest Well, in Shires of Ashburton, Wiluna and Menzies
  • Forrestania, Shire of Kondinin
  • Forrestania Group, a mine in the Shire of Kondinin
  • Forrestdale, a town site in the City of Armadale
  • Forrestdale, a homestead in Shire of Beverley
  • Forrestdale Lake, in the City of Armadale
  • John Forrest Senior High School, in Shire of Bayswater
  • Glen Forrest, in the Shire of Mundaring
  • Glen Forrest Primary School, in the Shire of Mundaring
  • John Forrest National Park, in the Shire of Mundaring
  • Mounts Forrest in the Shires of Menzies, Ashburton and Ngaanyatjarraku.

© Kim Epton 2023
438 words, two photographs.
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