The highly anticipated nature-focussed playspace at Wilfred Taylor Reserve in Morphett Vale is now open for families to enjoy.
Work on the Wheatsheaf Road site began in late 2019 following council’s extensive community engagement process to develop a concept plan for the project.
The playspace has been designed and built to provide opportunities for children and caregivers of all ages and abilities to explore the equipment and activities on offer. Places for quiet time and sensory experiences are balanced with active areas that encourage more play, challenging children to wander and test their skills as they go.
The $2.2 million upgrade to the reserve was made possible by $1.3 million of funding from the state government. The City of Onkaparinga invested $900,000 on supporting infrastructure such as a new access road, additional bus and car parking, lighting and park furniture. Irrigation has also been installed for the expansive grassed area and landscaping that will be further developed in the coming months, ready for events, ball games and picnics.
Children can also enjoy whizzing along the looping walkways and new plaza area on bikes and scooters.
New bike racks, accessible barbecues, drinking fountains, seating and picnic shelters will help families have a great day out at the reserve. The site has been designed to make use of the natural shade provided by existing trees including majestic river red gums, in addition to more than 100 newly-planted trees.
Christie Creek runs through the reserve. The playspace highlights its natural features in a cultural nature trail incorporating sculptures and signage. Children and families are invited to explore the natural areas of the reserve and its extensive network of trails.
“There’s a great sense of peacefulness and freedom in the playspace. I love the connection to the wider reserve, particularly the natural environment and linkages to the Morphett Vale Railway Club,” says Project Leader Janelle Arbon.
“We encourage visitors to explore the amazing trees along Christie Creek.”
The Rotary Club of Morphett Vale donated a generous sum of money that enabled the installation of a wheelchair accessible carousel, offering a multi-sensory play experience for all children. The carousel is located near a two-bay swing featuring a basket swing, strap and toddler swing.
Adjacent to the carousel, the children’s sensory garden offers activities encouraging the exploration of textures, sounds, smells, visual cues and loose parts to create a new experience. Pathways around the playspace are made using asphalt or compacted rubble to ease mobility for wheelchair users and caregivers.
For adventurous children, the Eagle’s flight double zipline provides an exhilarating ride. Over at Possum’s Hangout, older children will discover rope climbing and balancing, swings and slides from a high tower.
When the kids need a rest, they can relax in the hanging nest overlooking the playspace.
For families’ peace of mind, 1.2m high fencing surrounds the junior nature play section as well as the Hills to Beach creative play area featuring sand and water exploration, and the Farm Village. The Farm Village play area commemorates the reserve’s namesake, prominent local farmer Wilfred Taylor, and gives a nod to post-European settlement in the area.
The importance of the site for the traditional owners of the land, the Kaurna people, is reflected in art created by local Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna and Yankunytjatjara artist Allan Sumner and his team at ACA Studios. Carvings and seating areas for storytelling and social interaction feature as part of the cultural trail, the central walk through the playspace and in areas such as the sensory garden, connecting visitors with Kaurna culture. Interactive artwork by The Cheese Factory Studio Gallery also features.
“We have already had really positive comments from people passing by throughout the project build and since opening. There is a sense of excitement and residents and visitors are enjoying exploring the space,” Janelle says.
Dogs are welcome in Wilfred Taylor Reserve and can be off-leash if under the effective voice command of the owner.In accordance with council by-laws, dogs are not allowed inside a fenced playground or within three metres of any unfenced play equipment.
An official opening of the playspace is planned for later this year, dependent on government restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic.
The playspace was designed by Peter Semple Landscape Architects and constructed by LCS Landscapes.