Pokemon Go: Kings Park under siege from avid Perth players
29th July 2016
Managers of Perth’s much-loved tourist drawcard Kings Park are pleading with Pokemon players to look up from their phones after record numbers have damaged lawns and threatened spring wildflowers.
- Lawns and gardens damaged at Kings Park from huge visitor increase linked to Pokemon
- Thousands of visitors are coming to the iconic park to play the game
- Authority is asking players to be careful, some have injured themselves walking into trees
Thousands of players have descended on the park during the day and night to try to capture virtual critters in the augmented reality game craze that has swept the world.
A Botanic Gardens & Parks Authority spokeswoman said while it was great to see more people, particularly young people, visiting the park, the increased traffic had already killed off large swathes of lawn and damaged garden beds.
“We’ve certainly noticed people’s eyes are glued to their phones, a lot of the time so they’re not necessarily aware of their surroundings, and we’ve unfortunately had a few instances where they’ve walked through garden beds,” she said.
“If there’s a Pokemon just waiting for them on the other side, they’re tempted to go straight through it, or not quite aware of where they are.”
She said the difference to previous high-traffic times of year was players were coming day and night, trying to trap the “nocturnal” pokemon, which change in an area depending on the time of day.
The authority believes last Sunday may have been the highest-traffic day, outside of a major festival or event, the park had ever seen.
Traffic was backed up the whole length of Fraser Avenue to Crawley, and the park brought in extra security to try to manage the influx.
Sections of lawn will remain roped off until October, to allow them to regenerate, Ms Maddern said.
The authority has posted some “pointers for Pokemon” on their website, asking people to take public transport and take care of the fragile gardens and themselves.
“We have seen people walking into trees and onto roads without knowing because their eyes are glued to their screens,” the note says.
“With the spring wildflower season only a few weeks away, we’re preparing for our most spectacular time of the year.
“Tiny seedlings are vulnerable. Even if you can see there is a Pokémon just a few steps away, please do not walk into any garden beds.”
The 400-hectare Kings Park, perched atop a hill overlooking the CBD, serves an important biodiversity function in the area.
There are 324 species of local native plants growing in the bushland, which represents about 15 per cent of the native flora of the Perth Region, according to the authority.
The bushland also acts as a corridor for local birds and animals, and is home to over seventy bird species, twenty reptile species and hundreds of different invertebrates.
Crowds a boon for local business
Some local businesses have welcomed the increased crowds.
Stickybeaks Cafe Proprieter Roy Ketjer said he had seen a small increase in trade as a result of players.
“I know up at the main entrance of Kings Park they are in their hundreds, blocking up Fraser Avenue and that, they’re sort of parking and walking all over the place,” he said.
“It’s helped a little bit, it’s made people a little bit more aware of where we are in the park, because we’re a little bit hidden away.”
He said while he had not played the game himself, some of his younger staff were getting on board.
“One of the girls has shown me, she got all excited because we had one in our kitchen,” he said.
Perth woman Emily Ng was out playing the game with her boyfriend in the park on Thursday.
She said she found herself spending more and more of her free time on it.
“I’m just hooked on it, there’s no way to get away from it,” she said.
“Because it’s part of our childhood, when you get something new about your childhood, you can’t stop. There’s no way to stop.”