Parks Popping up in Halls Gap and Stawell

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Northern Grampians Shire Council has implemented two “Pop Up Parks” in Halls Gap and Stawell that will provide new spaces for locals and tourists to gather in the shire. The Victorian Government provided $250,000 to Council through the Local Councils Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package for the development of these parks.

The parks are located at 71-75 Main Street, Stawell and 99 Grampians Road, Halls Gap.

The Stawell pop up park is a joint project with Stawell Regional Health who have temporarily provided a portion of their carpark for the purpose. An anonymous philanthropist has provided the land for the Halls Gap park on a short term basis.

Both parks are conveniently located on the main shopping strips in Halls Gap and Stawell to encourage locals and tourists to rest a while in the towns and visit traders to stimulate the local economy.

With a capacity of 30 people seated or 100 people standing, they are large enough to host small events. The Halls Gap park layout suggests potential for hosting a small music gig, cinema night, pop up art shows or other community led events with council permission.

The parks were designed by Felicity Brown of Laimiga. Mrs Brown is a local landscape designer and sensory garden specialist.

The design brief for the parks specified that they must be wheelchair and pram accessible and provide an inclusive environment that encourages the community to gather in a CovidSafe manner outdoors. They include refectory style dining furniture, large, market-style umbrellas and sensory gardens.

Dementia supportive elements have been incorporated into the landscape design of the Stawell park to boost cognitive functioning through the triggering of memories from the heritage and sensory planting choices.

To reduce waste, the parks have been built from upcycled and recyclable natural materials with an emphasis on incorporating the natural environment such as the raised earthen stage for events at Halls Gap. Council staff were involved in the fabrication of the planter boxes, furniture and plantings.

A mural has been incorporated into the design of each park.

St Arnaud artist Kyle Torney, renowned for his realistic portraiture murals on silos and town walls is currently painting the Halls Gap mural. The mural features local Aboriginal youth and emerging leaders.

Wimmera artist Nichola Clarke, known for her community art projects and upcycling sculptures, is working on the Stawell park mural. She worked with students from Skene Street Specialist School who provided drawings to Mrs Clarke to incorporate into the mural. To meet the brief of dementia friendly art, Nichola has designed the mural to feel like an “I Spy” challenge.

After completion, these parks will remain in use for several years.

The parks are currently open to the public. Council is planning an official launch for the spring school holidays; information will follow.

Council conducted a community survey for suitable names for the temporary parks and this will be announced via social and print media in due course.

Cr Emerson said many locals have been curious to know more about this project and he thinks the outdoor spaces will be very well utilised.

“Thank you very much to the Victorian Government for funding this community focused project,” Cr Emerson said.

“The funding has helped to provide an uplifting and all abilities accessible area that promotes connection and encourages us all to be social outdoors again.

“I encourage residents and tourists alike to consider adopting these pop up parks as regular meeting places and outdoor event venues: they look very welcoming, restful and harmonious in their settings.”

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