Sitting in a rainbow
Over the past few years, in the wake of tragedy, a dusty Hackham West reserve has been transformed by the power and collaboration of a community.
The idea for the Vintners Walk Butterfly Garden was sparked in 2015 when a vigil for local woman Jackie Ohide, who was murdered by her partner, was held at the reserve’s pre-existing butterfly sculpture.
A group of local residents decided to create an Indigenous demonstration garden that would honour domestic violence victims and provide a place of sanctuary for wildlife and people.
Since then, community members of all ages and a range of local groups (spearheaded by People Matters Hackham West and supported by the City of Onkaparinga) have banded together to create an idyllic space, incorporating thousands of plants, a large public butterfly artwork, a butterfly species information display, pallet furniture, bee hotels and more.
Its latest addition is some multi-coloured octagonal seating and tables, built by the Hackham West Men’s Shed and installed in November, which has the capacity to seat an entire classroom of kids.
“When people come together and work on something, magic happens,” says People Matters Hackham West member Debbie Dunn, who kickstarted the idea for the Butterfly Garden with her son, Sam.
“People Matters includes residents, council, NGOs, the community centre, the school and Children’s Centre – everyone has contributed to making this project happen.
“Young offenders made the pallet furniture, the Kids and Dads project participants mixed concrete and made bee hotels, the Men’s Shed built the benches, the Hackham West Children’s Centre donates the water we need, school kids and residents have weeded, planted and done pebble mosaics.
“Council provided funding, arranged planting holes, helped on planting days with volunteers, selected the site for a pocket forest, provided technical advice as needed, brought logs to the site and supported us tirelessly with advice, and connected the people needed from council to make things happen and get the resources we need.
“Students from Christies Beach High School came every Wednesday for the first part of the year, doing a lot of mulching, using mulch supplied by council, and as a result we saw fungi for the first time this year in the reserve, which is a sign of biodiversity and soil health.”
The new rainbow seating was the brainchild of People Matters members Kimberley Golding and mum, Gill, who have lived in the community for 40 years.
“The process [of constructing the garden] has been ongoing, but the community response has been overwhelming,” says Gill.
“Working together, we realised very early on that we can make a difference. I have such a passion for Hackham West and it’s very special to me.”
“The children and families here fight for what’s right and what they believe in,” she says.
“When they get knocked down, they get up again.”
“Small birds and butterflies – especially species that are struggling to survive – need understory to provide protection and this is often missing in the landscapes of suburbia,” Debbie says.
Another of the garden’s aims, when the young plants and trees mature, is to develop the site into a nature play space that warrants being called a “children’s forest”.
Debbie hopes children will be able to enjoy nature in the heart of Hackham West, somewhere they can walk to and not have to rely on parents to drive them.
It’s good to know there’ll always be a seat for them, to take a break and soak it all in.
This is Hackham West
Scenes from the Vintners Walk Butterfly Garden and Hackham West Men's Shed