Monday, 23 March 2015

Nature Playgrounds - a place for children and families

'This is a place to climb rocks and ropes, explore, create, climb trees and get dirty!' 

That certainly sounded positive!
I was on my way to Melbourne airport when I spotted what looked like a very busy playground. Did I have time to explore? I would make the time having developed an interest in adventurous playgrounds and more specifically .... what children and adults do in such public spaces.
Large logs and nets randomly placed into what created a major climbing frame - a place to climb, jump, balance, take risks, challenge yourself or run around with friends,

A slope with rocks, grass, native grass and sapling trees - a place to wait patiently for the trees to grow, to run down, to run up, to feel the different textures, to walk along the rope

A frame like a multi-legged beast, an invitation to play, to create, to build a shelter, to share and to solve problems. Sticks and branches needed were not readily available but mature trees along the park edge had plenty to build with.

A green hill in the background, the contrast between soft green grass and angular buildings striking. Swings and families gathering to chat, to share.

Rocks, many, many large rocks brought in to create levels for families to gather on, for children to climb and race each other to the top, newly planted trees and shrubs contrasting with the soft shades of brown and the hardness of the rocks

A 'spider's web to climb on, to measure and pretend, a high rope to balance on, to view the world from up high, a wide slide to slide down together

Circles, spirals or loops to walk through, to crawl through, to hang from, to follow, to meet a friend. Wooden weathered logs, sand stone rocks, arched bridge.

Sand and water belong together, mixing, stirring, baking and making. So very busy - children of all ages, old and new friends working together.

Splash, stamp, drips and drops. A wooden water trough, water running off a rock to be gathered and used by many little hands

Water spouts, ever changing, surprise! Big and small run, jump and roll over and through the ever changing jets intent on wetting everybody

A freshly mown lawn and a large slope - an invitation to climb, roll, run, ride or just sit. Families gathering, friends meeting and others watching.

 A structure, a stage, a cage, nobody playing in it. New growth, softly moving in sharp contrast to the rigid metal, maybe next time there will be play.

A view from the top, metal slides, small medium and large - sandstone rocks, different heights, different sizes, with green grasses tucked in to add to the mystery later

Hold on tight, climb up high, what a view. Concentration, perseverance, balance, risk assessing, problem solving - I did it!

A gathering of giant rocks or standing stones, large sun bleached wooden tree trunks creating a gathering space, new trees, platforms 

Garden beds with saplings and newly planted grasses in sharp contrast to the dead wood of the trunks, pathways to explore, invitations to explore

This was certainly worth my quick visit. Very few signs preventing or directing play. Parents playing or sitting and socialising. This is certainly a park I will visit regularly, to watch the progress on the landscape and to observe children playing.