In this day and age of public liability insurance nightmares and larger than life lawsuits it was refreshing to see the main attraction in a playground at Brisbane’s Southbank Parklands – a tree.
Not just any old tree, a very old tree, I’m guessing several hundred years old.
There was some other great playground equipment to try out – a new take on a slippery slide and an unusual climbing contraption.
But the Moreton Bay fig was the massive star (and regular readers will know just how much I looove trees).
The day before (this being School Holidays) we’d been to our favourite Gold Coast park (Pratten Park, Broadbeach), where children of all abilities are catered to.
They have an all abilities swing – a deck-chair that is safe to just lie back on and swing lazily through the air, and a new seated flying fox in which kids can be strapped in a modified car seat, providing freedom for less able-bodied children and safety for younger ones.
The metal slippery slides are long and wide and feel very safe as they are built into the slope of a recycled-rubber covered hill, complete with bumps that form footholds so that even three year olds (come to think of it he managed the climb when he was two) can scale back up the ‘mountain’ to slide back down again. And again, and again. Yipee. Such a simple concept that engenders confidence in younger children as they scurry up the mound (look Mum no hands!).
It’s a wonderful park, hugely popular and I was most impressed with two older kids who supervised the younger ones on the spider swing, which takes up to five kids and lets them swirl around and around and around until they are dizzy on life. The supervisors were patient and pragmatic, and I watched parents take a step back and just let their kids PLAY.
The Gold Coast City Council went through an extensive process in designing the park to suit a range of needs, as their website says.
“The playground incorporates sensory, motor, imaginative and educational aspects of play and was designed to enable children with disabilities to play outdoors and side by side with their friends and siblings.
The playground’s design features three zones – Sandcastle, Undersea and Hill – all connected via a network of pathways and six interactive community art projects, created by 70 special education students from six local schools.”
But back to Southbank and that tree.
The cousins all climbed it, of course, even Little Yang and girly girl Miss Yin. It begged to be climbed, even if the children on the school holiday program weren’t allowed to. So sad.
This tree is clearly meant for climbing – the Southbank Parklands people haven’t fenced it off – instead the playground has been built under the shade of its big branches. Its mass of roots are meant to be used as jungle ropes that agile kids can monkey up or slide down or swing on, Tarzan style. Its crossed boughs just naturally form little hidey-holes were whispered secrets can be shared. Its long strong limbs can’t help but entice braver climbers higher and further so that children can say that they have truly climbed a great big tree.
It is truly wonderful that we have great parks offering playgrounds that are safe and fun and suitable for all ages and abilities.
But still nothing beats nature’s playground. Why not let your kids climb a tree, or climb one yourself, just for the heck of it.
And let it be a metaphor for your life – don’t just play it safe, climb out of your comfort zone, seek a new perspective whether it be from the top of a tree or out on a limb somewhere else in life. Or you might like to read a previous post and just go jump!
Linking up with With Some Grace for FYFB. Yes, sisters of the BIG HAIR.