History

The Forrest Centre, first opened in 1986, was designed by renowned architects Robert Cann & Associates.
 
ALEXANDER FORREST

Alexander Forrest was a great explorer, surveyor, politician and investor. Born 22 September 1849, the fourth of nine sons of William Forrest (a miller by trade) and Margaret Guthriew, he worked at his father’s mill until 1868 when he advertised himself as a surveyor. In 1870, he served as second-in-command for his first transcontinental expedition along the edge of the great Australian Bight. On 1 January 1871 he was appointed to the survey department as surveyor-in-charge of the Albany district and later became an independent licensed surveyor working by contract for the department.
In March 1879, accompanied by his brother Matthew and a team of six, Alexander began a six month exploration which resulted in the discovery and naming of the Kimberley district, the Margaret and Ord rivers, and the King Leopold ranges. Alexander finally led them safely through to the overland telegraph line near Daly waters, earning himself the name “Father of the Kimberley’s”.
 
Alexander married Amy Eliza Barrett Lennard on 15 January 1880 at her father’s home in Western Australia. Their first born was daughter Sylvia, followed by four sons, Kimberley, Anthony, John and William. In 1887 Alexander became the first member for Kimberley in the legislative council and easily retained this seat until his death. His business interest were diverse including several stations in the Kimberley region, gold mines, newspapers, timber industry, retail butchering and shipping cattle.
 
Alexander held the office of Mayor of Perth for six years (1892-95) and was unopposed for a second term 1897-1900. As a keen committee-man of the Western Australia turf club he moved for running of the first Perth Cup in 1887 and even imported a horse called “First Prince” and a professional jockey in the hope of winning it. In August 1897, six months after arriving in England for medical treatment, his wife Amy died aged 45 and Alexander was left to care for five children aged seven to sixteen. It was during this year he was reappointed as Mayor and his only daughter, sixteen year old Sylvia (affectionately named “Pettie” by her friends) officiated with him on many occasions as Lady Mayoress.
 
Alexander was quick to seize investment opportunities created by the Western Australian gold rush years and was one of the first speculators in 1888 to float a company on the Yilgarn goldfield.
 
When the Duke of York opened the first federal parliament in 1901, Alexander was awarded a C.M.G (Companion of the Order of St. Michael & St. George).
 
Alexander Forrest died 20 June 1901 and was aged 51 years old. He had accomplished a great deal including the provision of parks, reserves, tram ways, surface drainage measures, roads and footpaths and as such had modernised the City of Perth during his lifetime.