Pictured above: The Wattle Park playscape is under construction, with an accessible pathway, slides and the structure of a double story tram fort in place.
Across greater Melbourne, Parks Victoria is delivering park upgrades and improvements to provide more opportunities for urban communities to unlock the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in nature.
At Wattle Park, works to deliver an all-abilities playscape, a walking and running track and an upgraded picnic area are nearing completion.
The Victorian Government has invested $4.3 million as part of the $315 million Suburban Parks Program, and a further $850,000 through the Urban Parks Active Wellbeing Program, to deliver these upgrades at this much-loved park on Wurundjeri Country.
Picnic area upgrades and sculptures
Accessible pathways are in place, winding through the shade of tall eucalyptus trees and leading to new spaces and facilities within the upgraded picnic area. The pathways will soon feature artistic stencilling which will include visual references to the Wattle Park area, including silhouettes of native flora, pawprints of local fauna, tram tracks and Kooyong Koot Creek.
Two new shelters are being constructed, providing additional protection from weather, and barbecues and accessible picnic tables will soon be installed. Water bubblers (for people visitors and canine visitors!) are also currently being installed.
Sculptures created by artist, Shlomit Moria in consultation and collaboration with Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elders Uncle Colin Hunter and Aunty Kim Wandin and Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung artist Lewis Wandin, will be installed on site in the coming weeks. These artworks feature animals native to Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Country including wombats, possums and owls, and two Acknowledgement of Country sculptures which will visually connect visitors with Country as they enter the new picnic area.
The nature-based all-abilities playscape is nearly finished, with the structure of the double story tram fort in place and construction of wooden climbing equipment underway. An accessible pathway winds up a steady gradient to level two of the fort, enabling visitors in wheelchairs to enjoy both the view from the top and the batter slide with assistance.
Finishing touches on the playscape will include swings, spinners, water play, a sensory garden, and the tram fort which will match the look and feel of the existing heritage trams in the park and provide young explorers with the opportunity to sit up front and ‘steer’ – they’re sure to be immersed in imaginative play for hours!
Pictured above: The playscape and surrounding picnic area are coming together, with pathways, large boulders for seating and the structure of a new swing set in place.
Tram restoration works
Unfortunately, during construction the site has been broken into and the heritage trams have been heavily vandalised. The project team are currently investigating options to restore the trams, and additional security measures have been put in place to minimise risk of further vandalism while project works are still in progress. During this time public access to the trams will be closed to ensure visitor safety.
Walking and running track
The 3.25km walking and running track is nearing completion, and over 500 metres of additional track has been formalised to form a loop around the oval. Once finished, these loops will provide more fitness and active recreation opportunities for the local community.
Ceremonial fire dish
The ceremonial fire dish, designed by indigenous architects, Greenaway Architects, will be installed following the opening of the playscape. The fire dish will provide a space for Wurundjeri Traditional Owners to hold cultural ceremonies, as well as a place for visitors to sit and connect to Country, finding moments of appreciation for the stunning bushland that forms Wattle Park.
To keep updated on project progress over these final months, visit the Wattle Park upgrades project page.
Pictured above: When finished, new pathways will wind through the new playscape and picnic area, beneath the shade of tall eucalyptus trees.