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Sir John Forrest (Forrest Party)

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Sir John Forrest29 December 1890 - 14 February 1901

1st Barron Forrest of Bunbury (1847-1918) was a surveyor, explorer, Western Australia's first Premier and later a minister, acting Prime Minister and first Treasurer in the newly formed Federal Government after Federation.

He was the third son of ten children. He was a large man, reputedly weighing 127 kilograms, and famous for the girth of his waist which was reported to be 54inches - or 137 centimetres. Forrest was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1882 for his valuable services in exploring the interior of the State. In 1883, he was appointed Surveyor-General, the first West Australian to be appointed to an Executive Council office.

He was State Premier and Treasurer from 29 December 1890 to 14 February 1901. Forrest spent 17 years in politics, nine of them in the federal arena. He was one of the founding fathers of Federation and was actively involved in the drafting of the Commonwealth Constitution late last century, seeking to ensure WA did not lose too much power to the Federal Government. WA was the last State to join the Federation after Sir John called a referendum on the issue on July 31, 1900.

As a politician he was not a good speaker but he loved public life and its associated pomp and ceremony. He was a strong supporter for strengthening the bonds that tied the dominions to Great Britain. After a long illness, Forrest resigned as federal Treasurer on March 27, 1918. He set sail for London in June that year to take up his seat in the House of Lords.

However, on September 2, he died while the ship was anchored off Sierre Leone. He was buried there but his remains were subsequently brought back to WA and placed at Karrakatta cemetery on May 7, 1919.


Acknowledgement of Country

The Government of Western Australia acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.