If ever there was a park to satisfy the whole family, then the brand new Jo Wheatley All Abilities Play Space that opened last week in Nedlands has to be it. After all, are we ever too old to enjoy swinging, climbing, spinning, hitting and balancing?
This spectacular, state of the art play facility is located on 10,000 square metres of prime riverfront real estate and as an avid park goer and critic, there is nothing like it in Perth. This is a huge statement given the calibre of West Australian parks. Made possible through the combination of some visionary local residents, combined local Rotary Clubs and grant funding from Lotterywest, it's a park that has been seven years in the making.
It's the aesthetic of the park as a whole that really needs to be commended. The planning is exceptional. From the beautiful stone masonry bridge and the stone walls with inbuilt wooden benches at perfect vantage points (next to the flying fox for example), to the herb garden in the senior's playground and the table tennis and basketball arena. This park has left no demographic out of a play option.
Speaking of demographics, it's the specialist senior's playground that speaks volumes for the "all inclusive" nature of this space. Given the area and knowing that there are a large number of retirees living locally, I know this space is going to be enjoyed and used daily. I spoke to a lovely lady using the stairs in this play area. She told me that she is now going to come into the park on her daily walk to do something different for her exercise. She's going to build up to the seated bike pedals. How fabulous is that!
As for other new and different pieces of equipment, the swings set includes some funky orange banana lounge type reclining swings that I haven't seen before. As well as a tandem swing that allows parent and baby to swing together. There is a clever optical illusion, a musical playground, and an obstacle course that is again something I haven't seen of its type. All the more regular park features are done well too. It's fully fenced for starters, meaning I could relax knowing that the carpark and river were off limits to my little ones. Toilets are also located close by, just outside the gates. The fort with slides is not too high for little people and there is plenty of space underneath for shop and cubby games. The flying fox has great breaks and is set away from the areas where smaller children might like to play (though my 26-month-old was straight on). There is a huge climbing frame structure with a nautical feel and generous allocation to facilities for water and sand play.
One feature I did notice missing, probably quite deliberately, was there are no barbecue facilities within the park. I'm not phased by this, I feel this park is really about everyone playing, and perhaps not so much for social gatherings like parties and big groups. I like this idea. There are plenty of spaces for shared picnics though, and the river bank is also being redeveloped as the next phase in this project.