In 2014, Alec Duncan from Child’s Play Audio wrote two superb and memorable blog site posts about Katanning All Ages Playground. You can browse them in this article and in this article. I was mesmerised. The buildings are one of a kind and quite different from anything at all else I experienced at any time observed.
In 2015, when I realised that an old school good friend lived just around an hour from Katanning, I knew I had to visit and see for myself what this playground was like. The weblog write-up down below talks about my knowledge of the stop by. It was a bittersweet pay a visit to with so significantly superior and so considerably sadness that it had been neglected over the several years.
Nonetheless in 2020, the playground was fully refurbished. I have not been to see it, but the web site incorporates some particulars and the video clip beneath demonstrates that the refurbishments have taken account of the legacy of the site and original participate in features. For example, there is a modernised spiral slide and a huge wavy slide which nevertheless has ladders that will supply a “spacey” feel to access it. The video is very limited and it’s truly worth stopping and starting off it to get a seem at all the options inside of the web-site.
Right after some reflection, I’ve resolved to depart the primary weblog write-up untouched as I really feel the commentary captures both equally my ordeals and some essential factors in relation to playgrounds which are even now worthy of reflection. Take pleasure in the journey down memory lane…
The first All Ages Playground was modelled on the Grant Park Playground in Monash, South Australia. A Fb website page has a lot of favourable reminiscent feedback remaining by the 300K visitors per 12 months that made Grant Park a go-to playground in the Eighties. The Participate in Scapes blog site has a wonderful publish and the YouTube clip is definitely worth watching as is this 1:
Katanning is a smaller sized version of Grant Park and it is unclear who really built it, when, or how it came into remaining. My gut sensation is that it should have been nicely-ahead of the Nineties which is when issues around playground protection and litigation burst onto the scene. The smell of the steel and sweat on my palms reminded me of my childhood ordeals taking part in on the zig-zag, the witches’ hat and climbing frames of the Seventies. The narrowness of the structures and heights also took me back down memory lane.
The constructions that haven’t been taken off are suitably strong. Sadly, it seems that year-on-year the playground is getting dismantled. As the structures turn into unsafe, they are staying cordoned off or removed entirely.
For instance, in the photo over, the big rope with a knot at the conclusion, has not been changed. It is a steel equivalent of a large tree swing and very similar structures can also be located in adventure playgrounds – a very good instance being the swing platform at Glamis.
Naturally, one particular does not travel midway all-around the earth only to look at the playground and consider a pair of pictures. I took my time to try out all the distinct slides, rockers and seesaws and swings. The scariest bit is climbing the ladders. These days, in fashionable playgrounds, you feel protected and safeguarded when climbing to a height. At Katanning, the degree of exposure is complete. So although I was only climbing to possibly two-thirds of the peak of the Macquarie Lake Variety Playground Mineshaft slide on any a person composition, it felt a great deal more demanding. Put it this way, there was NO WAY I was likely to permit go or mess about.
As time went on, I started to change to the exposure and it commenced to truly feel a lot more usual. What this advised me is that when we force ourselves we can acclimatise. Just like remaining on a rock facial area, you adapt to the environmental ailments in which you come across by yourself. It did make me chuckle as I realised that even the 30ft constructions would be considered “hazardous” by some overzealous safety officers and would almost certainly call for helmets and getting roped up.
As I wandered close to, testing, discovering and photographing, I was intrigued by the patterns. Each slide was a little bit unique. For example, in the picture beneath you can see the overlapping metal plates. This is like a rumble strip. Higher than you can see gentle waves. The largest slide, which is out of use, was a double a person that persons could go down side–by-side.
The constructions were misleading. Normally speaking the major ones were like gentle giants. Despite the fact that the measures have been uncovered, the actually incline of the slides was remarkably gentle. I imagine applying hessian (burlap) sacks would make for more rapidly rides. I’m sure at minimum a single person will have attempted sitting down on a skateboard to go down 1!
The “satellite” above looks like a person of the fast playground rides exactly where you are whizzed about. The obstacle here is not working on it to make it go round. It’s not a notably rapid experience. It’s performing out how to get into the construction. There’s no gate and no ways. You have to hoick your self up and in as a result of the horizontal bars. Or simply keep onto the outside… which I saw a group of youngsters executing.
The big tractor tyre swing was a large ambling composition. It will take a good deal of ability to get it shifting and swinging significant. I could not get it to swing much additional than a foot both side of the A-frame – and that was standing up and going for it. As a result there is a lesson here about the arc of a pendulum and its oscillation.
Nonetheless, some of the most innocuous looking structures ended up a great deal wilder. The gate put up underneath is a terrific case in point. It whizzes all-around incredibly rapidly and in total flight, you want to hang on quite difficult.
A curious quirk is that the structures were definitely tricky to photograph with my Apple iphone. The scaffolding-like design means that they mix into the landscape fairly very well. There’s no garish colors.
All-in-all, this was a thought-provoking take a look at, tinged with disappointment. I was reminded once once again, we have packaged and canned so a lot of activities – regular adventurous ones or if not – that any element of bodily chance is massively diminished. I felt Katanning Playground reminded me of the want for variety of playground encounters and to concern conditions such as “safety”, “danger”, “risk” and “hazard” and all those people other unfavorable connotations that are routinely uttered together with engage in. Perhaps its time to evaluate the playground benchmarks, not in terms of basic safety language but in conditions this kind of as “freedom”, “positive memory creators”, “space to be”, “enabling”, “empowering” and “fun.” That may possibly assistance us rethink what the goal and purpose of a playground actually is.
This web site write-up was at first published in April 2015.
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