Designers help student team bring the Caves Nature Playground to life

Last week saw an exciting leap forward in the Naracoorte Caves Nature Playground project. On their first site visit since being awarded the contract, members of the team from Climbing Tree Consultancy travelled to Naracoorte to meet with others involved in the project.

Climbing Tree are notable for designing the renowned Morialta Conservation Park Playground, which has received glowing reviews since it opened.

Of greatest significance was their collaboration with the STEM student ambassadors from Naracoorte South Primary School and Naracoorte Primary School.

This was an interactive process with opportunities for the students to share the themes that had consistently emerged through their consultation with younger students in the community as they identified what they would most like to see in a playground.

This timely partnership with the students allowed Simon Hutchinson (director) and his team to discuss ways to incorporate these ideas into their initial concept and work closely with students around any logistical, safety, and budgetary considerations that can impact on the final design.

Simon, who is a playground designer with a background in teaching, and Keeden Dobozy (graphic artist), reviewed all of the short listed designs in sketchbooks, designs from Makers Empire, as well as the 3D models.

There was learning on both ends in this process, and no lack of enthusiasm, as the group walked around the proposed site.

“Today has been an opportunity for the students to show what they’ve been working on,” Naracoorte Primary School teacher Angela Donnelly said.

“As a group they’re representing the children in the broader community, to share what they hope to see in the space”.

The students left quite an impression on Simon and Keeden, who acknowledged the richness of ideas that come about from engaging with children in this process. There was much laughter and anticipation as the consultation ended and the group speculated about the idea of being the first to ‘test drive’ the playground following it’s completion –  an obvious reward for their hard work!

During their visit, the Climbing Tree team were introduced to the abundant natural resources in Naracoorte and the Caves region, particularly limestone and timber, both of which will feature significantly in the playground. The project committee are thrilled with the generosity of individuals and businesses already, in identifying resources they can contribute.

“This community engagement and contribution will have a substantial influence on the standard of the playground upon completion. We want to have the community involved in this project, as it’s something that is for everyone, and something we can be proud of,” playground committee member Megan Heffernan said.

Any individuals or business interested in contributing to the project can contact Nick McIntyre at the Caves office or follow the progress of the playground on the ‘Naracoorte Caves Nature Playground’ Facebook page.

On Thursday December 6 the designers met with some of cave experts, including paleontologist Dr Liz Reed, bat experts, and friends of the caves to ensure that all of the extensive requirements surrounding construction were adhered to.