New space for kids

L to R: Cranbourne MP Pauline Richards, Deputy Chairman of The Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Penny Fowler, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Steve Dimopolous and Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria Director and Chief Executive Tim Entwisle. Picture: SUPPLIED

Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne launched its new Woodland Picnic Area playground on Friday 30 June, designed to inspire the next generation of nature lovers.

Minister for Sport, Tourism and Major Events, Steve Dimopoulos MP, officially opened the new playground, alongside Cranbourne MP Pauline Richards and Gardens’ staff.

“We are thrilled to launch the new Woodland Picnic Area Playground, which combines the best of nature play with the picturesque surrounds of Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne,” said Chris Russell, Executive Director Cranbourne Gardens.

The playground is located in the Gardens’ Conservation Zone and is made from recycled materials from the Gardens as well as locally sourced materials.

“Under the shade of native trees, the playground merges with the surrounding bushland,“ Mr Russell said.

“Children can look out for wildlife in the trees and may even come across wombat tracks in the sandpit.

“We wanted to create a playground where children could safely explore their skills and abilities, and fall in love with nature.“

The playground’s features include sandpits, giant logs, swings, climbing ropes, a fallen tree, giant banksia cross-sections which collect puddles, basalt stone seats/tables, possum prints and “insect doors and hotels”.

The playground was designed by Andrea Proctor Landscapes with unique features such as a “Gifting Basket”, which teaches children to leave feathers, stones and seeds behind, and Aboriginal Weelam Poles, where children can build their own cubby houses from recycled branches.

“We consulted the local community including children, the Aboriginal community, the Learning team at Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne, and its staff more broadly to develop the playground of their dreams,” said Ms Proctor.

“This playground reflects how Gardens staff loved to play as children and what inspired them to become passionate about conservation and nature today.