Get in Step Shoalhaven
New South Wales | Regional
Led by the City of Cockburn, the project concept was to develop a play space that introduces and connects children of all ages and abilities to the natural environment, providing the community with a variety of ways to learn, play and explore their local area. To achieve this, the space has been created as a regional destination, featuring interactive public art, shelters, barbecues, drinking fountains and themed vegetation for the community to access and enjoy.
The unique space has utilised existing tree canopies, recycled materials, and additionally drawn on the flora and wildlife, through the inclusion of features such as long neck tortoises, dragonflies, butterflies and native plants. The cultural significance of the area for local Aboriginal people has also prompted the inclusion of features that celebrate the heritage of the site as a food source and place of mythological importance.
The park was initiated and sponsored by City of Cockburn Human Services. The design and development of the park was directed by various Council departments and local organisations, and extensive community consultation was conducted via the City of Cockburn Children's Reference Group and Aboriginal Reference Group, ensuring it met community and cultural needs of the area. It includes features for children, adults and those with disabilities, to ensure inclusivity and promote diversity.
The playground features a multitude of creative play elements that cater to the needs of different ages and abilities. Key play equipment includes:
In prioritising inclusivity, the playground also includes:
Regarding functionality, the playground features amenities that allow the community to actively engage with the public space, promote passive surveillance and safety, and support social connection. This includes
Through key elements in its design, the playground adds Aboriginal influence and reinforces a strong sense of place by acknowledging Bibra Lake as a significant site for the Nyungar people. For example, the play space features a yarning circle, a traditional space for gathering and learning that will teach the community about Bibra Lake and its importance to Nyungar people. The yarning circle is enclosed within a group of six three-metre-high standing stones. When touched, the stones ‘speak’ Nyungar words in a variety of young and old Aboriginal voices. The rocks also produce seasonally appropriate sounds - bushfires in summer, rain storms in summer and in spring the mating calls of local waterfowl can be heard by walking through the yarning circle.
The play space also includes large basket-like climbing frames, which were inspired by Aboriginal fish traps, and a family of highly detailed giant long neck tortoise sculptures. The mother tortoise is 9m long, and her nest of hatching eggs explain to children the life cycle of this important local environmental indicator.
New South Wales | Regional