Nature Play Space - War Memorial Park


War Memorial Park - Gates




What has been undertaken?

The Rural City of Murray Bridge has invested nearly $300,000 to deliver improvements to War Memorial Park and the creation of a nature play space. This has been funded by contributions from the Council’s Open Space Fund and the OPAL project. OPAL commissioned the design and oversaw construction before their project ended on 30th June 2016.

Why did you put a play space there?

The War Memorial Park was a playground that had fallen into disrepair over many years. The space was barren and did not present the desired entrance appeal alongside Diamond Park and Edward Square. We wanted to return the space to its former glory and provide the respect which the park was intended to provide to the veterans of WWII. We also wanted to provide something for the community in line with the original use of the land.

What is a Nature Play Space?

Nature play spaces are designed with the intent to bring children back to nature using: fallen logs, tree stumps for seating, vertical logs for forts, slides embedded in the side of hills etc. Natural Playgrounds offer a wide range of open ended play options for children while remaining safe.

Why not a traditional play structure?

Playgrounds are commonly associated with children's areas occupied by a play structure. Although there is a place for play structures compared to nature play they offer very little in terms of imaginative, open-ended play. Play structures are a way of prescribing and standardising play for children.

Information sourced from Adam Bienenstock http://www.naturalplaygrounds.ca/

Benefits of Nature Play spaces

Natural environments have advantages over purpose built playgrounds because they stimulate more diverse and creative play.

Fjortoft and Sageie - Landscape and Urban planning, 2000

It is the attention to fine motor activity that the natural playgrounds stand apart. Gardening, music, sensory bins and varying textures are all incorporated to develop fine motor skills that are valuable to child development. These playgrounds encourage children to touch, feel and collect creating a sensory experience. Gross motor skills are strengthened using natural elements like fallen logs, boulders and varying topography; challenging children of all abilities.

Gardens for living Inc.. Children’s Natural Playgrounds 2008

A case for natural play spaces vs. plastic play spaces:

  • Children who play regularly in natural settings are sick less often. Mud, sand, water, leaves, sticks, pine cones and gum nuts can help to stimulate children's immune system as well as their imagination
  • Children who spend more time outside tend to be more physically active and less likely to be overweight.
  • Children who play in natural settings are more resistant to stress; have lower incidence of behavioural disorders, anxiety and depression; and have a higher measure of self-worth.
  • Children who play in natural settings play in more diverse, imaginative and creative ways and show improved language and collaboration skills.
  • Children who play in nature have more positive feelings about each other.
  • Bullying behaviour is greatly reduced where children have access to diverse nature-based play environments.
  • Symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder are reduced after contact with nature

Information sourced from Kids Safe WA website www.kidsafewa.com.au/naturalplay.html

What are the raised beds for?

Discussions have taken place with the adjoining kindergarten and Independent Learning Centre who may use the raised garden beds to grow vegetables and other plants.

Who designed it?

The nature play space was designed by WAX Design. Wax won the contract through a competitive tender process. Wax is a leading Nature Play Space designer in South Australia; they have developed many fun and exciting play spaces across the State. Their assistance was critical in providing the quality play space at War Memorial Park.

Why did you cut the tree down?

The tree that overhung the play space was diseased and had to be removed for safety reasons. The significant branches from it were used to make some of the play equipment and the smaller pieces were used as mulch. The remaining stump will be turned into a carving at a later date.

What have you done with the War Memorial?

The War Memorial and Gates have been repaired, the area repaved and the memorial relocated. The general feel of the area has been lifted.

What about lighting?

As the area is a nature play space, lighting was also intended to be low key. As such there is no additional lighting, although a streetlight is located in the park.

Where can I found out more?

You can find out more about the Council’s open spaces using the search facility on our website at:


There’s also a leaflet available about reserves in Murray Bridge at:


You can find out more about nature play at:  https://natureplaysa.org.au/.

Who should I contact with any other questions or feedback?

Please contact Andrew Meddle – General Manager for Sustainable Communities by email at a.meddle@murraybgridge.sa.gov.au


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