Playtime returns to its roots with Gosford’s new “wild play” park

There’s unlikely to be any brightly-coloured plastic slippery dips at the new nature-inspired park to be built on the Leagues Club Field site in the NSW city of Gosford.

The $10 million transformation of 2.4 hectares of public space will include “wild play” areas for children, including a water play area. 

“These plans are next level – we are going beyond structured playgrounds with soft fall and slippery slides – we’re looking at a living, breathing bushland ecosystem that complements the park’s proximity to the waterfront,” Minister for planning and housing Anthony Roberts said when announcing the plans on Monday.

“There’s a strong focus on ‘wild play’ areas, where kids can splash around, get their hands dirty and explore a natural bushland setting,” he added.

At the centre of the park, there will be a community hub modelled on a Bungul (dancing) ground, which Minister Roberts said was designed in close collaboration with the Darkinjung Local Aboriginal Land Council (Darkinjung).

“We’re also continuing to work with the Darkinjung to ensure that the space is embedded with Indigenous culture, sharing their stories and connection with the region,” he said. 

The plans also include new trees, open green space for people to continue to play casual sports, walkways, picnic areas, toilet amenities, and lighting.

The announcement follows the success of the Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden at Centennial Park in Sydney, which encourages children to get in touch with nature among the park’s dry creek beds, water play area, bamboo forest, banksia tunnels, turtle mounds and treehouse.

Opening a little over a year ago, the play space has won the designer, Aspect Studios, the Landscape Architecture Award for Play Spaces at the 2018 AILA National Landscape Architecture Awards.

Welcoming over 200,000 visitors in its first year, the playground has been deemed such a success that the Centennial Parklands Foundation has decided to create another nature-inspired play space nearby that will be three times the size and will cost around $10 million. 

The new space will include an education precinct for children to learn about nature, according to the SMH. 

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