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When the City of Marion invited me to write about their new Glade Crescent Reserve, I expected to see something that was a clone of other new play areas I had been to recently - but I was to be rather surprised.
Arriving on the first warm day of spring I found that many other people had beaten me to the reserve, and I had to park a little way down Quailo Avenue.
The reserve area is large and attractively landscaped against the side of a small hill, with trails winding through the play areas and connecting to the Coast to Vines trail. This trail starts near the Marino Rocks railway station and travels through Hallett Cove and McLaren Vale all the way down to Willunga.
There are a series of play areas with shelters, BBQ and toilet facilities overlooking a large attractive open green space, where Waterfall Creek passes through a valley on its way down to the sea. When I arrived the entire area was buzzing with children enjoying the play facilities while adults congregated in the shelters and picnicked on lawns under the trees. Being a dog friendly location, several families had brought their pooch along for the ride too.
I was initially surprised that I didn't see one of the multi purpose play structures that seem to be in almost any playground now. Instead I saw a variety of new equipment - there are a series of parallel slippery dips for children to race against each other, all built against the side of the hill with soft safety material around them so that risk is low if there are any falls.
Several mature trees provide welcome shade on sunny days, with many more young trees planted around the playground. A large train is available for younger rail enthusiasts to climb around, or just to sit inside and take a break.
For older children I found a flying fox, something rarely seen except at the St Kilda Playground. It's popularity was proved by a large crowd of kids waiting to take a ride, with an adult adjudicating any arguments.
The Mural on the Toilet Was Painted by School Children
The playground and reserve cost nearly $800,000 to upgrade, with a great deal of community consultation and planning being done to ensure it provided what residents wanted. Local children were involved too - for example students from the nearby school painted the brightly coloured mural on the toilets.
In the future it's planned to build a series of three wetlands in the valley north of the playground where Waterfall Creek winds its way down to the sea. With the introduction of more trails in the area it will provide even more amenities for adults at Glade Crescent Reserve, and the wetlands will help strengthen the local ecosystem and its viability for flora and fauna.
For more information about the wetlands proposal, read the Glade Wetlands Concept Plan on the council website.
Glade Crescent Reserve & Playground is worth a visit even if you don't live locally - it's only a short way off the Lonsdale Road and kids clearly love it. You could bring your lunch and make a day of it, as lots of other people are doing now. It's also dog friendly - dogs are permitted off leash but must be kept more than 3 metres away from play equipment.
If you like Glade Crescent Playground, you may also enjoy visiting the Minkarra Park Playground and Dog Park too. It's quite a different style, and also caters for older children with a skate park too.