Riverside Park Playground

Project Name: Riverside Park Playground

Recipient: Rupert G H Milne Home, Landscape Consulting (Sole Trader)

Client: Kempsey Shire Council (KSC)

Project team: 

  • Brief and Direction: Trevor Dickson, Manager Technical & Civic Services KSC.

  • Design: Rupert G H Milne Home, Landscape Architect.

  • Concept and Safety design: Prue Walsh (Play Environment Consulting P/L). 

  • Implementation/Construction: KSC & some 18 local Trades businesses and suppliers. 

  • Community Input: Some 65 local community individuals involved in community consultation input and out-of-hours assistance with supply and construction.

Project address: Riverside Park, Eden Street, Kempsey NSW 2440

Kempsey Riverside Park Playground, designed and constructed in 2015, is a refurbishment of an aged/tired playground and forms the first part of a broader Riverside Park upgrade.

The Playground near the CBD and Macleay River is completely inclusive, open and accessible at all times and is adjacent to car parking, jetty, boat ramps toilet and park facilities.

The design focuses on adventure play for all ages and most abilities, while retaining the challenge but minimising the risk. Play facilities for the very young and supervising adults are shaded by existing Fig Trees and generally progress clockwise in increasing age-group suitability. This arrangement reduces potential problems of age group and circulation conflict such as, 'run-in' to moving items, swings, the double flying-fox and 6M 'Sky-climber' R. Low seat-walls and barrier planting act as further circulation measures. (Refer accompanying Sketch Plan.)

Refurbishment included widening of existing narrow paths to improve access for all and a perimeter bike/scooter trail, with disabled access from the car park and town centre to be constructed soon. A nest-swing and water play elements, provide facilities for all mobilities.

Through open accessibility, catering for all ages and inclusiveness of Kempsey's diverse community (often deprived of facilities that are taken for granted in city environs), the playground and adjacent recreation facilities has become a hub for community play and interaction for residents as well as tourists who break their journey here. Monthly community markets in the area to the south increase vibrancy, with the playground providing a significant drawcard during these events.

One of the State’s lowest socio-economic environments, the Kempsey community has embraced the playground at all levels of consultation and construction, making their contribution critical to its success and ownership. Local childcare workers, service clubs, parents and Arts Council contributed to design; Trade businesses and community services provided materials and labour; Public and Council staff donated after-hours labour. (Refer Attachment A, Council's acknowledgement of the many contributors.)

Materials sustainability is demonstrated by utilising readily available materials: Two items from the old playground were reused, refurbished and incorporated: Materials were recycled from quarry and Council stockpiles (boulders, logs, tyres, granite stepping stones and timber): Seats and tables were made from recycled materials: Existing picnic/BBQ facilities, and mature trees were incorporated into the site planning and design. Organic softfall has been used as a manageable renewable resource in preference to synthetic material. The design provided for ease of construction and ongoing maintenance, which falls to Council's work teams.

While permanent elements have been provided, it is intended the dynamic nature and ongoing interest will be maintained by incorporation of ever evolving and changing elements. This involving local artists and community/Arts Council sculptors to design some temporary and changing fun-play elements.

A Council hosted meeting of those involved, evaluated the design, construction and the success of the playground. All agreed it had become a significant focus for ALL and whilst modest in budget, it has truly become a 'community playground'.