It might have been a cloudy day on Sunday but no one's spirits were down because of it at Booran Reserve, corner of Booran and Glenhuntly Roads, Glen Huntly. One of my favourite parks/playgrounds close by, just a 12 minute drive away from mine, I do believe every council in Victoria needs to take a leaf out of the book of this award-winning park located in the City of Glen Eira. Do note that Booran Reserve is an on-leash park, which means you must keep your pooch on leash at all times.
Whether you have kids or don't, or you just want to relax on the grass and watch the world go by, or just have a social gathering, it's the perfect place for it. For those who just want to exercise and walk the perimeter of the park, it's expansive enough to get your heart rate up after a few laps. As a bonus, you get to gaze at a good length of a wall of artworks as you walk past. You can stop and read details of the art and artist when you're done while catching your breath. Bring a book and you can sit by the water play feature as tinkling water jets spray upwards in various patterns at different times. You have to be there at the right times, of course, as in the winter period, it operates for a shorter length of time in the day. Kids can be found chasing these jets of water, especially on a warm day, so you might have to put up with some squeals of delight.
Did you know that Booran Reserve was created from the decommissioned 1.6Ha Caulfield Service Reservoir? The reservoir was constructed in 1883 and held up to 38 million litres of water - the size of nearly 20 Olympic pools! Booran Reserve was built using more than 99% of the old reservoir materials. It looks like from the very beginnings of this build, sustainability was at the forefront, reusing materials where it could. Other sustainable features include water storage that captures half a million litres of water that is reused for toilets and irrigation; a control system that monitors lighting levels and timers; LED lighting with sensors and timers to minimise energy use; solar panels delivering 28,700 kilowatts of power per hour and an enhanced biodiversity through the native urban forest that acts as a habitat corridor for native fauna.
On one side of the park, along the eastern perimeter wall, flowing on from the wall of paintings and artwork - is a wall with markings and facilities suitable for many sports eg. basketball ring/netball ring that lends itself suitable for many sports like basketball, netball, soccer, cricket and tennis. It's where teens or young-uns can practice their skills along with this multi-purpose hit up wall, have a fun match (or perhaps serious match) or simply bounce the ball off the walls in singular play. Keep following the wall and you get to the dual flying fox, with an all-abilities access seat; a favourite with kids.
Good news if you have kids old enough to hop on it by themselves, get to the other end of this decent length of cable, long enough to give you a good ride, and do the return trip on your own. Bad news for the parents with very young kids who can't do it on their own but would love a ride! Let me just say you'll get a super good workout running with your kid for the return trip. Three return trips and that was me done, but of course the fitter young mums and dads could get a longer workout out of it. That's the good news about exercise. Playing with your kids actively gives you as much exercise as it does them, so you don't have to put aside extra time to exercise.
One end of the park is calmer, as it slowly builds up speed shall we say, in play equipment. The other end is full-on with so much going on, it's enough to drive any kid crazy with delight. The play space at the busy end features a giant 10 metre-high double dome rope climbing net with slide. This climbing net is the first of its kind in Australia. The net provides climbing challenges to provide expansive views of the play space and surrounding areas from the highest lookout platform. This viewpoint provides a birds-eye view to appreciate the water theme and patterns within the overall park design. You are of course responsible for the safety of your own child as you know best what their abilities are. This particular piece of engineering is a wonder to behold and a standout feature at the reserve.
Other unique play equipment includes a giant bird's nest swing that usually finds a few kids on it at the same time, having fun times. There's also many other swings, an oversized mouse wheel, imaginative sensory play areas and cubbies, a two-tiered sandpit, and two in-ground trampolines (one of which wasn't working on Sunday and needs fixing) and more. The in-ground trampoline is a favourite and such a clever idea. Every backyard should have one. It's only a small trampoline big enough to hold one child or two very small children, with just enough bounce not to harm themselves under the supervision of parents. The design enables the parent to stand along the edge of hard ground, while they hold the hands of their children, bouncing in glee.
There are lots of smaller accessible paths that weave and explore through the playground and among shrubs, plantings and so on. With so many sensory, engaging and interactive pockets on the reserve, this is truly a playground for all ages. I wish I had one in my council, the City of Stonnington, so I could just roll out of bed and land in it - hah! The reserve has been operating since it opened in 2014 and has retained many unique elements of the old reservoir, adding a bit of history to it. The perimeter walls, bluestone plinths and central sluice gate are all a part of the reservoir's history. The art wall around the perimeter walls tells the story of water in a local context, from the tale of Tiddalik the Frog and indigenous people's connection to the land through to the development of water infrastructure in Melbourne.
There are two impressive-looking picnic shelters at the Reserve with both having access to free BBQ and toilet facilities. Of course, the toilet facilities are for all who use the reserve. The Picnic Playground shelter has a solid roof with two large picnic tables located next to the playground and the tables can be booked if you're planning a big gathering (when we're able to according to government guidelines), or you could simply rock up and use the facilities and take your chances, which are generally very good as far as I can see, from the many times I've been to the reserve. However, you might have to be on the ready to move if unbeknownst to you, the tables have been booked.
If the reserve is within your travel radius currently allowed, do go check it out. Take in a breath of fresh air and the freedom and benefits of exercise. You'll be more than pleasantly surprised at how wonderful the surrounds are, and how much there is for the kids to enjoy. There is a designated parking area as well as street parking. All Councils do take note. We all want one in our vicinity and council area, and it's definitely a playground to aspire to. The only slight criticism I have would be that the area becomes even more inclusive for those with disabilities with a couple more special play equipment like special needs swings, steps that go up to slides, and interactive sensory play areas where there are inbuilt sound-making contraptions when you step on them. They have these three pieces of equipment I mention at the Frankston playground by the beach, another wonderful playground too far away for me. Find more wonderful images of what's at the reserve on the Facebook page.
Thanks for the info on this attractive and excellent equipped reserve. Next time I have my grandchildren we will certainly pay a visit. Liked the history side about the previous use of the site. Keep up the nice articles as we need some good news these days. David