Mukanthi playspace Morialta

Design Feature
Type of Project
South Australia

Morialta Conservation Park is located ten kilometres from the Central Business District of Adelaide, with approximately 300,000 annual visitors. Its centenary was celebrated in 2018. The Mukanthi play space at Morialta Conservation Park was developed as part of a commitment to upgrade metropolitan national parks and reserves, to meet the growing demand for outdoor recreational spaces.

The nature play space uniquely and positively contributes to sense of place and provides children with the opportunity to be active and learn through adventure and unstructured play.

Designing a perfect national park

The project commenced with targeted community consultation in late 2014, concept designs in 2015, and the new play space opened in early 2017. Consultation on this project was taken both as part of the larger State Government commitment to upgrading visitor facilities in parks across the region, and as specific consultation on the play space.

One of the key consultation elements on this project was the incorporation of a Minecraft competition, in which school classrooms were encouraged to “design their perfect national park” on Minecraft. The winners of this competition, a class from Linden Park Primary School, were then invited to work with the landscape architect designing the play space, to develop their ideas into usable concepts.

The landscape architect then took these ideas and developed some truly novel concepts, which at first stumped the project managers tasked with arranging for their construction. But eventually they were able to find someone with the skills to construct these stunning features. The builders were even able to make use of fallen limbs reclaimed from recent large storms. Involving primary school students in the design of the play space was an important consideration for this project.

Birds nest at Morialta playspace
Birds nest at Morialta playspace

The play space encourages children to be physically active through play, while additionally educating the community about local Kaurna culture. It contains five unique play areas: Frog Island, Eagle’s Perch, Great snake, Bird nests and Climbing boulders, as well as paths, lawns, creeks and climbing trees.

Frog Island and creek
Frog Island and creek

The play space is dispersed among existing facilities and stands of River Red Gums. At the Bird nest play area, giant lifelike nests of different heights can be climbed and explored; at Frog Island children can explore an Aboriginal fire pit, search for animal carvings in the bush and use stepping stones to cross a creek.

The dispersal of the play nodes across the area encourages children to move across the landscape, through the existing trees, discovering small statues and carvings on the way. This in turn encourages more spontaneous play through the area, and teaches children to trust their imaginations to provide exciting and novel play scenarios.

The park creates a sense of place, encouraging children be active and explore their natural environment while engaging and connecting with other children. The park is accessible via public transport from the city, a destination surrounded by natural shade and the beauty of nature and wildlife.

Project Team

  • Project management - Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources
  • Designer - Peter Semple Landscape Architects (with assistance from the children at Linden Park Primary School)
  • Builder – Climbing Tree Creations
  • Ongoing consultants - Kaurna community members

Project Cost

Approximately $900,000  

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