NEW Nature-based Play Space opening this Spring


Something special is taking shape in the Warrnambool Botanic Gardens.

It’s a playspace out of the ordinary.

Opening in Spring it will be, says Friends of Warrnambool Botanic Gardens president Pat Varley, a place where kids can seek adventure, a place where they can risk a bruised shin and a bumped elbow.

It will not have the usual array of playground equipment.

Instead it will feature the sculpted remains of several salvaged Monterey cypresses lost from the gardens some years ago but carefully stored away.

It will also include some large basalt shards.

“It’s a local material that represents the Western Districts,” Mrs Varley said.

The nature-based playspace has been a while in the making.

It was the popular choice during the Victorian Government’s Pick my Project initiative from 2018.

The project was held up while concerns from Heritage Victoria over whether the playspace was at odds with the vision of the garden’s designer, William Guilfoyle, were addressed.

In the end, 150 individual letters of support from Warrnambool residents helped convince Heritage Victoria that the play space was not only complementary – it was very much wanted by the community.

“We’re so grateful for the overwhelming support of Warrnambool residents,” Mrs Varley said.

“We hope parents will let kids loose on their own. There will be a mound of earth that parents can sit on while they watch their children.”

The playspace comes with its own high-level design pedigree. It’s the work of Laidlaw and Laidlaw, the landscape architects behind the children’s garden in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

Mrs Varley said the project group was very appreciative of the work done by volunteer project manager Neil McLeod, along with Council staff including Manager Facilities and Projects Paula Gardiner and gardens curator John Sheely.

The on-ground work is being carried out by Warrnambool contractor Gary Drake and, weather permitting, it is expected the project will be complete in early spring.

Here's a behinds the scenes look at the space being built: 

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