To some it might seem like the opening of an envelope but when the gates to Tumbulgum’s innovative new nature-based playground swung open yesterday there is no doubt children in in the riverside village were in seventh heaven.
Tweed mayor Barry Longland told families attending Tuesday’s opening the playground was a ‘wonderful example of how a community can come together to work with a number of levels of government to help themselves’.
The playground, on a previously unused parcel of land on Government Road behind the community hall, has been designed, according to Tweed Shire Council, to activate a small, restricted space for a wide range of age groups.
Cr Longland said ‘it may not be a large space, but there is ample opportunity here for nature-based play as well as fun with the fixed playground equipment.
‘Nature-based play is more about engaging with nature, digging around, moving rocks and logs, wandering through garden beds, where children have to make up their own games and are encouraged to be independent, all within a safe environment,’ he said.
The Tumbulgum Playgroup took the proposal to council to build the new facility two years ago, and council in turn encouraged them to seek out government funding to help with park costs.
$15,000 govt grant
The Tumbulgum Community Association and Tweed MP Geoff Provest also pitched in and the group was successful in its application for $15,000 from the Community Building Partnership program.
Cr Longland said the village community then also raised over $3,000 towards the project through trivia nights and lamington drives, and a local donation of $10,000.
‘This funding and the local groups’ dedication and motivation was the starting point for a playground design,’ he said, adding the playgroup members had a major input in the design.
The playground’s undulating forms allow for a small scooter track which runs the perimeter of the playground and will test children’s stability and confidence as they manoeuvre up and down the pathway, avoiding the pitfalls of garden beds and large rocks.
A council spokesperson said the plantings in the playground area also reflected a move towards sustainability in playground design, with the use of fruit trees to show children where fruit comes from.
‘As they watch over time, the fruit trees flower, then turn to small seeds, before producing orange edible fruit,’ the spokesperson said.
Rosemary and other fragrant plants have also been used to work on the five senses, to be more tactile with nature and understand the sense of smell.
It is proposed the new playground be called ‘Junction Park’, after the original name of Tumbulgum village.
Image: Saige Stringer enjoys the new swing at Tumbulgum, watched by her mum Tammy Richardson (right). Photo Jeff Dawson