On our recent trip to the south coast of NSW we popped into Berry. It’s a regular stop for us anytime we head south because I have a couple of die-hard donut fans who simply can’t be in the vicinity of Berry’s famous donut van without stopping for a treat. We were lucky on this trip because we travelled through Berry just after the first stage of the Boongaree Rotary Nature Play Park opened. Having a keen interest in accessible and inclusive play spaces and after contributing to the NSW Government’s Everyone Can Play guidelines, I was really keen to see what had been built. I can honestly say that the Boongaree Rotary Nature Play Park is one of the best accessible and inclusive playgrounds I’ve seen in many years.
Boongaree Rotary Nature Play Park, Berry
I have been fairly critical of many of the playgrounds that have opened in the last few years. They have accessible and inclusive elements but I’d call them token inclusions. So I was thrilled to find lots of lovely inclusions at the Boongaree Nature Play Park.
It’s pleasing to see the inclusive elements incorporated into a nature play setting. Although there are logs to climb there’s also an accessible pathway which links the various areas of the play space
Specific accessible elements include a wheelchair accessible carousel with seat and various swings.
It’s always pleasing to see a variety of equipment integrated into a playground in the hope of catering to different abilities including the layback Jenn Swing (orange one pictured above), and a basket swing.
A tractor for imaginative play is reflective of the country surrounds and allows for a wheelchair user to roll on up to take a drive.
I love that the tractor is wide enough for a wheelchair user and others to ‘ride’ at the same time. I’m always thrilled to see anything that encourages side-by-side play.
Speaking of which, there’s also a dual flying fox, one with a bucket seat with harness. I still remember the joy when Braeden had his first go on a flying fox. It was really special to have the more supportive seat as there was no way he could access a disc seat on the usual flying foxes.
Inground trampolines allow children the opportunity to burn off some energy and these trampolines can be used with a wheelchair. I like the size and shape of these trampolines at Boongaree Nature Play Park as they makes it easier for anyone assisting a person in a wheelchair to join in or help.
Water and sand play is encouraged in various ways. The pump and diggers are both located so they can be accessed from a paved area of the playground making for easy access.
The large playground could be overwhelming for some visitors but there are plenty of corners to escape the busyness.
The little cubby is one of my favourite spots with rainbow coloured musical features and a distortion mirror.
A second basket swing is located in another area of the playground.
To one side of the main play area there’s a fantastic fenced bike course which encourages road safety.
It includes road signs, speed humps and a misting tunnel.
This area has some natural shade under the trees and tables and benches for picnicking. This would have been a great spot for Braeden to learn to drive his power wheelchair back in the day. It may not have been safe for others to be around him mind you as he had no idea when he first got it.
A raised sand play table was something which missed the mark. Where it is located it would be hard for a young wheelchair user to reach it with a step down created by the playground edging.
Accessible facilities at Boongaree Rotary Nature Play Park
A Changing Places bathroom is located at Boongaree Rotary Nature Play Park which is good for visitors to the park but also fantastic for anyone driving up or down the coast that needs an adult-size change table and hoist. It’s not far off the highway to detour for this facility and did I mention, donuts!
A MLAK key is needed to access the Changing Places bathroom.
Picnic tables throughout the park have a cut out to ensure easy access for wheelchair users.
Barbecues also offer easy access.
Wheelchair accessible parking is provided.
If you find yourself in the area, or if you’re looking for a family-friendly stop on a road trip, we highly recommend Boongaree Nature Play Park.
And if you have a donut lover in the family don’t forget to stop off at the Donut van in the main street. You won’t miss it as there’s sure to be a queue of eager donut lovers. Fun Jones family fact – when he was single Hubby used to drive the two and a half hours from Sydney to Berry with a friend, just for the drive and the donuts. So it’s been around a while!
Emily Forrest says
Hi Julie, It’s great to read a first-hand account of what is good in this inclusive playspace – what hits the mark and the near-misses!. I haven’t visited yet – but it does appear to have plenty going for it.
I was also part of the ECP Guidelines Advisory Group – what a great experience that was! I am currently delivering another 3 playspaces with my team – all with inclusivity top of mind.
Boongaree is going to have some negative media with the injuries that have occurred early on – but I hope overall the good shines through. Emily
Yes, I’m really impressed. It’s always frustrating when certain elements miss the mark but overall it’s really fantastic.