YEARS of collaboration between Rochester community groups and Campaspe Shire Council have paid off with a Rotary Park revamp getting the go-ahead.
The Rochester Community Playspace got the stamp of approval from councillors at last week’s ordinary meeting, provided a grant from the Murray Darling Basin Authority is approved.
Council is seeking to allocate a grant of more than $300,000 from the construction of a walking/cycling track to the construction of the natural playspace.
And if it is successful, work is expected to be finished next year.
Speaking as the item was presented before councillors, Rochester Community Playspace committee co-chairperson Heather Darbyshire said the revamp wouldn’t be just another park.
“A playground in Campaspe generally consists of plastic and metal equipment such as slides, climbing structures and swings,” she said.
“Our playspace covers the whole of Rotary Park. It consists of different areas for quiet, natural, creative, active and stimulating play allowing children to learn while they are using their imagination in a natural environment.”
The plans include three major play areas, as well as a picnic lawn and regular park amenities, while also using the existing toilet block as part of the new look.
The play area has been designed to be heavy on the use of natural materials, and will incorporate a number of indigenous elements to celebrate the culture of the first Australians.
“For example in our forest play area there are opportunities to make a den or a cubby, to make your favourite food in a hollowed out log, to climb up high to see over the fence, to explore the vortex net or to find a quiet area to observe nature up close,” Ms Darbyshire said.
“We are creating open-ended ‘invitations to play’ where the play of the child is extended by the natural environment leading to longer and self-led play.”
The playspace was passed unanimously by councillors.
“I want to thank Heather and her team for their hard work. And it has been hard work to get to this point,” Cr Leigh Wilson said.
“At the heart of all communities lies hardworking people with determination. This project is born not out of tragedy but out of great economic disappointment in the dairy sector, the availability of water and the closure of Murray Goulburn.
“This is a culmination of a huge amount of work. It can’t go underestimated the amount of traffic that goes past this site.
“It’s in an incredibly visual part of town, close to the CBD and has incredible support from the community.”
Councillor Vicki Neele said children in Campaspe would be the real winners of the project.
“It is so exciting in our shire we have got a group of people who have put the time and effort in, collaborated with other groups in Rochester, negotiated and the group have come up with such an imaginative play area for our young people, Cr Neele said.
“It will be not only Campaspe Shire children that will benefit from this but also visitors.
“For all families in Campaspe it will be a reason to go visit Rochester and it will have this imaginative playspace.
“We are so lucky to have a dedicated group of volunteers that have worked with our recreation staff.”
The full plans for the Rochester Community Playspace are available at facebook.com/rochyplayspace