New adventure park: Students from the Hands-On Learning program at Benalla P-12 College have constructed some of the furniture that will be used in the new playground.

New adventure park: Students from the Hands-On Learning program at Benalla P-12 College have
constructed some of the furniture that will be used in the new playground.

Work has started on innovative adventure park at Botanical Gardens. The construction of a $610 000 nature-based adventure playground in the Benalla Botanical Gardens has begun to replace the existing play equipment.

The adventure playground has been designed by Andrew Laidlaw, who designed the award-winning children’s garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne. The iconic rocket slide, which turns 50 this year, will remain, but will undergo conservation works.

Features of the adventure playground include a ropes course and hammock, a ‘‘hobbit cave’’, pathways and a meandering symbolic river course with a mud play area and a protected area for smaller children. Materials used in the construction will be natural and sympathetic with their setting in the gardens.

Some of the furniture to be used in the playground has been constructed by local students from Benalla P-12 College’s Hands-On Learning Program, supported by the Tomorrow Today Foundation.

The toilet block behind the existing playground will be demolished in coming weeks in preparation for the construction of a new family-friendly toilet and change facility at the same time as the playground redevelopment.

The new toilet block has been designed to be family friendly with accessible facilities, wider stalls and an outside handwashing area for cleaning up after play. The new block is set back closer to the barbecue area to allow more space for the playground.

The council anticipates the project to be completed by the end of November, weather permitting, and the existing playground will be closed during construction work. Through the council’s tendering process, local tradespeople will be used as much as possible.

The funding partners for the project are:

● Victorian Government, $400 000;

● Benalla Rural City Council, $165 000;

● Friends of the Gardens, $10 000;

● Tomorrow Today Foundation, $13 000; and

● In-kind contributions: Hands on Learning, Rotary, Lions, Friends of the Gardens, Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE, $20 000.

‘‘This is an exciting project that will bring a new dimension to the Benalla Botanical Gardens,’’ Benalla Rural City Mayor Justin King said.

‘‘The design of the precinct is around social inclusion and encouraging healthy activity, and our local families will also get a great benefit from having this redesigned children’s precinct.

‘‘The council has a commitment to making our community as accessible as possible to people of all abilities and this has been factored into the design.

‘‘The children’s playground with its unmistakeable rocket slide is a great drawcard to visitors.

‘‘We have around 2000 people a day come through the Benalla Botanical Gardens and this new children’s precinct will give people another reason to stop and look around.

‘‘The local economy will benefit not just from the added attraction to visitors, but also through the use of local businesses as much as possible to complete the project.

‘‘Thank you to the state government for the funds to make this project possible and the Friends of the Gardens who have persevered with their vision for this important and much-loved community asset.’’

– Benalla Ensign 2016