REVIEW

New Bowra playground the pride of the town

The new Bowraville playground has set the benchmark for playgrounds across the region.

As the mother of a toddler, I've become a connoisseur of adventure playgrounds around the traps. And it doesn't matter which one you go to recently, the conversation with other parents always comes back to how awesome the Bowra one is.

After a six-month build, the newly opened family space beside the preschool is a huge hit with both locals and those from afar.

People who haven't been to Bowra for years, even from outside the Nambucca Valley, are making the pilgrimage to try out the flying fox and the bmx track.

"This is unreal - we don't have anything like this in Kempsey," one impressed Dad said while taking a turn on the spinning wheel of death (my term, not the official one).

And whether it's the giant climbing course, the balance beams, the music circle with cajon, drum and handpan, the co-swings or the flying fox - there's something for everyone to enjoy, from the youngest tots to the young at heart, like me.

Penny Stadhams is part of Jaanymili Bawrunga - the community reference group which first agitated for something like this playground to be built in Bowra.

She said she's thrilled it's finally here, and is being well-used and well-loved, and she can already notice the difference it's making in the community.

"There's never been anything like this in Bowraville before," she said.

It changes the dynamics in the community - it gives us a sense of pride. It's such a wonderful feeling that Bowra has something so beautiful.

"And it's changing the way other people see Bowraville - now they come here to check out our park."

Two fellas trying out the flying fox yesterday told me they were visiting their Pop, but were from Nambucca Heads.

"Did you know, this is my favourite park. EVER!" one said.

"Mmmhmmm me too," the other agreed, earnestly.

And it's no accident that it's got the thumbs up from everyone we've come across.

Council undertook a comprehensive consulting process with the community, under the leadership of Naj Hadzic when she was the council's Community Development Officer.

Careful consideration was put into making sure it was a space that appealed to kids of all ages, and one that families felt comfortable to spend time in.

Council's Assistant General Manager Engineering Services Paul Gallagher said one idea was for it to be a nature play space.

Sandstone rocks rise out of tufts of lomandra, allowing a space to both sit and reflect or scale and leap from.

"We got a consultant in to incorporate the local environment, and we nurtured the plan to what we could afford," he said.

"For once the project was not something that we thought would go well, but something people wanted.

"It's certainly a project that we're all very proud of. And with the Eungai one, and Gordon Park almost done now, the love's been spread around the Shire."

Penny said that community input not only helped council deliver something Bowra wanted, but also something they were happy to take ownership of.

"All the key parties had a part to play. It all came together and it's such a great feeling," she said.

"People have been looking after it too - there's been no vandalism, and people have been picking up rubbish.

"It's such a positive thing for our community, and it really complements the new walking paths, bmx track and the basketball courts. And when the sporting hub's completed it'll be even better.

"It'll just change everything for us."

If there was just one gripe - and there always is - it's that the space could do with a few more tables and barbecues to cater to the dozens of families who are using the space on the weekends.

The other issue is toilet facilities. But Paul Gallagher said council is already onto that one - existing facilities at the football club will be upgraded, with work to start by the end of this month.

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