Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is it so hard to design a decent park?

Yesterday I took the kids to Sydney Park. I'd love to be able to show you lovely photos of children frolicking, but I simply didn't have time to pull out the camera. So here is Scorpio Queen's excellent photo of the bike track

Photo credit: Scorpio Queen

Those are working traffic lights, and there was about 100 kids on all kinds of wheels using it yesterday. The boys had a fantastic time, and Ben very proudly told me that he had learned and obeyed all the road rules. Unfortunately, there is nothing else in this part of the park, and Elissa got bored of wandering around the grass and attempting to cause traffic jams on the bike track long before the boys got bored of riding.

Nevertheless, I convinced the boys to go to the new "All Abilities" playground. My first impression was that it was very cool. I really liked the huge slippery dips embedded in the hill. So we found another family we knew and sat down. Very, very briefly.

This photo is from the website I linked at the top. The fact that you can't see much basically sums up my first complaint. The visibility in this place is a nightmare. There are bumps and hills and children disappear in an instant. And see that really big hill with the slippery dips I liked? Behind that is a very tempting looking hill for sliding down - straight into an unfenced car park which then opens onto the Princes Highway. So not only can you not see your kids, there isn't even any chance that someone else will.

And then there is the "All Abilities" tag. I presume this refers to the kids, because while I am no expert on assessing accessibility, I am guessing that anyone with a mobility impairment would have the option of sitting on the grass opposite the playground. It is all narrow, windy paths with uneven surfaces. And then paths peter out to nothing, but kids can happily dart through the gardens to other places you can't see and can't easily reach - even on two good legs.

The boys loved it. If your kid can be relied on to stay in the designated area, it is a fantastic park. There is a raised sandpit with water to make it even more fun. There's a big range of things to do and places to explore. However, unless your idea of a fun trip to the park is always being within 8 feet of your child, I'd recommend you steer well clear of it with toddlers.


  1. It certainly looks fabulous but when my lot were younger the first thing I wanted in a park was for me to be able to sit in the one spot while they played.

  2. Pool fencing and one entrace with shaded seating near it! When will people learn? Apparently people with disabilities aren't supposed to be parents or carers of children... we've heard _that_ one before.

    The Ivey Watson playground in Kings Park, Perth has it right - with fairly good visibility and an al fresco cafe next to the entrance - but I don't think I've seen any other playgrounds that have.

  3. p.s. - would you consider posting this to accessibility_fail?

  4. @Lauredhel Yes, I would - but I don't know how. I don't have a dreamwidth account.

  5. Oh, I have a bazillion invite codes! Drop me a line.