Botanic Gardens nature playground wins state award

The nature based playground in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens has was a state Parks and Leisure Australia Award
The nature-based playground in the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens has won a Parks and Leisure Australia Award.

The new nature-based playground at the Bundaberg Botanic Gardens has won a state award in the Parks and Leisure Australia (PLA) Awards of Excellence program.

The new playground, opened in December 2018, was announced joint winner of the Playspace Award for projects up to $500,000.

Austek Play, the company which successfully tendered to design and build the playground, received the award and now goes in the running for the national award.

Bundaberg Regional Council parks and gardens portfolio spokesperson Cr Wayne Honor said it was rewarding to see the project highlighted at a state level.

“There has been a visible increase in visitation to the Botanic Gardens since this playground was opened, with families staying longer to enjoy the playground and the gardens,” Cr Honor said.

“A key design element was to ensure the playground blended with its surrounds through the use of natural materials and nature play features.

“The design also allows for seamless integration of mainstream and all-abilities play, ensuring accessibility throughout the playground and to surrounding amenities.”

Cr Honor said the concept of risk and challenge was creatively incorporated into the design, including the towering tunnel slide accessible by rock-climbing platforms.

The Bundaberg Botanic Garden's new nature playground
The Bundaberg Botanic Garden's new nature playground.

Botanic Gardens playground takes out state award as ‘iconic destination'

In highlighting the award, PLA wrote: “The Nature Based Playground at Bundaberg Botanic Gardens is an iconic destination parkland, appealing to users of all abilities. An innovative and considered space that is complimentary to the natural setting, the layout is deliberately designed to incorporate inclusivity and accessibility.”

Austek Play's Simon Cawthorne said the company had embraced the direction given by Council to design an inclusive, nature-based playground.

“The playground includes four individual play zones and 17 free-standing equipment items which, combined, offer a total of 89 individual play activities,” Mr Cawthorne said.

“The layout is deliberately designed to incorporate inclusivity and accessibility. This is not solely limited to how children will use the equipment to play, but also extends to how parents and carers engage with the space as supervisors and spectators.

“The wide variety of tactile and sensory items used throughout the play space are dominated by natural products and combine to create a theme befitting of the location.”

The PLA Awards of Excellence aim to promote and encourage best industry practice and recognise achievements and outstanding work of individuals and teams employed in the parks and leisure industry.