Published on 21 October 2019

The even greater outdoors

Anticipation is growing for a new southern hub for outdoor nature play and fun at Morphett Vale.

Imagination, exploration, creativity and excitement will be off the charts when a new regional nature playspace at Wilfred Taylor Reserve becomes a reality.

The $2.2 million project is the first stage of a broader plan to upgrade the reserve and expand opportunities for the community to get involved in sports, play and recreation at the site. Located on Wheatsheaf Road, the 60-hectare reserve is already home to many sporting groups, a dog obedience club and the Morphett Vale Railway Incorporated, offering bi-monthly model railway rides.

The playspace, dubbed the ‘Morialta of the south’, will provide opportunities for children to connect with the natural environment around them. It includes a junior nature playspace, a sensory discovery garden, ‘hills to beach’ sand and water play area and a cultural nature trail that incorporates artwork and encourages exploration of Christie Creek. Plus, more than 100 trees will be planted to provide plenty of shade for visitors.

Equipment for children to explore will include a possum hangout with rope climbing and balancing challenges, slides, swings, an accessible carousel and a double flying fox. A huge open grassed area will be ripe for events and informal ball games, while there’ll also be walkways suitable for children’s bikes and scooters.

A special feature of the project is collaboration with Allan Sumner, a Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna and Yankunytjatjara artist. His work — including carvings and seating areas for storytelling — will feature as part of the cultural nature trail and within the playspace, to connect visitors with culture and recognise the traditional owners of the land, the Kaurna people.

The Thrush Grove Farm Village play area is a nod to the site’s recent history as a working farm from the 1840s to the 1960s and prominent local farmer Wilfred Taylor, after whom the reserve is named.

Families will be able to make a day out by using the new bike racks, barbecues, picnic facilities, drinking fountains, seating, and shelters.

The design incorporates inclusive play options for children and caregivers of all ages and abilities. It follows nature play principles, with places for quiet time and sensory experiences around more active play to encourage children to explore, roam and seek challenge.

“We’re trying to break the mould of traditional playgrounds,” says Matt Buckell, Manager Construction and Projects from City of Onkaparinga.

After receiving enthusiastic support during the consultation process, the City of Onkaparinga signed off on the project in August. Pending a successful tender process, work could begin onsite in late 2019, with the playspace expected to open mid-2020.

The state government has funded $1.3m for the playspace and the City of Onkaparinga is funding up to $900,000 for the large irrigated grass area, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure including lighting, car parking and road access.

Further improvements to the reserve could be on the way, with community engagement on the Draft Wilfred Taylor Reserve Master Plan undertaken during August 2019. The feedback is being collated and is expected to be presented to council toward the end of the year.

The master plan is built around the concept of three zones: the sports zone to the creek’s north, the creek zone, and an informal recreation zone to the creek’s south. An improved path network would connect each of the zones and facilities.

The sports zone would retain all the major existing sporting facilities which would be progressively enhanced over time. The master plan proposes the possible expansion of the netball courts and basketball stadium and the upgrade of soccer facilities to allow for new senior soccer and training pitches, a new clubroom facility and parking. All projects are subject to further planning and the securing of council and state funding over the years ahead.

Improvements to the creek zone include signage, seating, nature play opportunities and art.

In addition to the new playspace, new picnic grounds, a relocated BMX track and other youth focused facilities are proposed for the informal recreation zone. These will complement current facilities such as the dog obedience club, model railway track, model car club, archery club, horse riding club, playground, public toilets, car parking and walking trails. There is also potential for this zone to host community events.

For updates on the playspace and draft master plan, visit

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The Wilfred Taylor Reserve is home to MV Rail and its popular miniature train rides; nature play is a key focus of the reserve’s upgrade.