Naturescape at Kings Park
5 July 13
Take a natural bushland area, add some industrial accessories designed to entice city kids off the footpath and into the wild, and you end up with Naturescape. Today we spent a couple of hours exploring this award-winning addition to Perth’s famous park.
At over 1000 acres, Kings Park and Botanic Garden is one of the largest inner-city parklands in the world. Within walking distance of the CBD, it overlooks the Swan River and contains grassy parklands, botanic gardens and native bush. It also has a number of play spaces, and this one (whose name has been sold out to a multinational metals and mining corporation) looks the least like a traditional playground.
Great ironstone boulders, stony paths, giant logs, water courses, piles of rocks and cleverly crafted hidey-holes are nestled among Australian native trees. The site was originally planted as an arboretum in 1962 and only opened as a playspace in late 2011.
The steel nests frames remind me of the papasan-chair frame that I rescued from the road-side and turned into a giant nest at our friends’ house in Brisbane. Their son obligingly posed as the cutest little bird, and my creation was complete!
Although there are water-ways within Naturescape, the water quality is not monitored and thus swimming or drinking is forbidden. It’s easier to forbid something than to actually act to make it safe (as a parent, I still fall into that trap). But at least the sign-designers display a sense or humour.
Our girls were interested in the different areas of Naturescape, but not thrilled by it. We’re used to playing in the real bush and in this playspace, the artificial elements were more appealing than the natural features. However, Naturescape is an excellent addition to Perth’s botanic gardens and certainly provides an opportunity to correct young urbanites’ “nature deficit disorder” (the term popularised by Richard Louv) and cited as an inspiration for the project.
Please note, Naturescape is not open on Mondays. We’ve already been there twice — on Mondays — and have had to look for other options (not so hard in Kings Park). Aisha’s theory is that the play area is so good that they close it weekly so that the people who work here can enjoy it! She may be right!