Bringing families together naturally
23 July 2019

Bringing families together naturally

From the back garden to the beach and exploring reserves, Onkaparinga is a natural playground all year round.

There’s one thing in abundance during this wonderfully wet season — mud! You can mould it, hear it squelch and let it slide through your fingers like silk, and then bake your mud-masterpiece in the sun and decorate it with stones and leaves foraged from your garden.

This delightful childhood experience is one of many activities to make it onto the ‘50 things to do before you are 12’ list. Building a sand city and jumping over waves also made the list, and for adventure activities there are colourful maps with fascinating facts. These outdoor adventure-packed ideas are part of the ‘Our Big Backyard Christies’ kit.

On the Christies Beach map you’ll find an area called Little Forest, which is a haven for tiny critters. Here you can collect fallen gum nuts and twigs to make bridges for beetles and slides for snails. A stone’s throw away is the beautiful Christies Creek linear park, where you can let your imagination go wild with trees to climb and cubbies to construct.

Take off your shoes. Let the gritty soil tickle your toes and the stream wash them clean. Close your eyes. Can you hear the song of the trees? The sheoaks whistle? The eucalypts hum? That’s the breeze blowing through their leaves. And birds. Pay close attention to their chortles and you’ll be speaking magpie in no time and laughing like a kookaburra. Why not pretend to be one of the animals you see? Talk and walk like them and ask mum and dad to join in. Remember, they’re kids at heart too.

This is at the core of the ‘Our Big Backyard’ initiative: to get local families out and about playing in nature.

“Our aim is to encourage families to connect, to be together and to enjoy our diverse natural environment,” says Amanda Kemperman, City of Onkaparinga’s Community Connections Officer. “This region has a lot to offer with its beautiful beaches, waterways and reserves, providing low cost activities for children and families to enjoy their local natural environment. And if it’s raining, that could make it more fun. There’s a saying we like to quote, ‘there’s no bad weather just bad clothing’, so if you have a coat and boots an adventure awaits you.”

Amanda also encourages the community to stay connected through the Our Big Backyard Christies Facebook page. Share your experiences and ideas and keep an eye open for posts on upcoming events such as come-and-try sessions with environmental experts including local Aboriginal leaders.

“We also offer professional development sessions for people who work with local children and families, particularly in social services,” Amanda says. “We cover how to use the Our Big Backyard resources as well as the benefits of nature play, the significance of local places and how to host come-and-try sessions.”

Our Big Backyard Christies is a project supported by the City of Onkaparinga, the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, the Department for Education, 10 local primary schools and kindergartens, and Anglicare SA’s Communities for Children Onkaparinga.

The Our Big Backyard Christies kit comprises an A3 sized map of Christies Beach, Christies Downs, Lonsdale and Morphett Vale, a list of 50 things to do in Christies before you are 12, and six adventure sheets. A similar kit, with different activities, is available for the Sellicks and Aldinga districts.

View the kit, book tickets to events and stay connected at

Our Big Backyard kits are available at the Christie Downs Community Centre and the Noarlunga Library or contact Amanda Kemperman on 8384 0666 for details.


The beach is a playground all year round for Aaron Nieassis and his daughters Winta (2), Darci (4) and Summa (6). “The girls love the beach; can’t get enough of it, especially building sandcastles. We make them together, and that’s the fun part. It brings us together,” Aaron said.

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