I have the good fortune to walk past the new play area in Ryrie Park each day. I marvel at the use that is being made of the play space. It is everything I hoped for in the positioning of play at the heart of our culture. The playground was officially opened on 1 November (link).
Recently, Paul Cockram wrote “the new playground at Ryrie Park is a great example of successful cooperation between the community and the council” (link). Alex Rea summarised the changes to the playground “the old playground replaced with new a climbing and sliding structure, resembling an Australian rural windmill. It also includes a carousel, a flying fox, an inclusive rocker, a basket swing (to add to the existing set), a slide and a rope bridge, shade (pergola) over swings, a cozy dome, spinning elements (wheelchair accessible), spring rockers, rope bridges, portholes in any solid walls, climbing walls, monkey bars, rubber soft fall and a ‘traveller’ or flying fox” (link).
Whenever I walk past, I see grandparents, parents and children and learning together. The flying fox is a great example of the learning that goes on. There are two travellers and parents can go down the fox parallel with their children. It is in constant use and I have been delighted to see the patient turn taking that takes place in its use. Polite queues form. The dominant sound at the fox is one of laughter. It appears to be an exciting place to be.
Elsewhere in the playground, parents are climbing with and swinging with their children. There is a mother and baby swing that receives constant use. The last time I was there I heard a grandmother and granddaughter duet on the xylophone and then they joined together in the swing seat.
This is for me the essence of inter-generational play and the heart of what I hoped Ryrie Park would be … a proud statement about the importance of play in our community.
In 1944, Johan Huizinga wrote “we find play present everywhere as a well-defined quality of action which is different from “ordinary” life”. He adds that play “is played out within certain limits of time and place. It contains its own course and meaning” (link). I do think Ryrie Park is that kind of time and place.
I congratulate the designers and the builders of the park. I am delighted there is no fence within the playground. This to me supports and makes possible the inter-generational learning and play that goes on. Wherever you look in the playground there are opportunities to be together.
In Ryrie Park we have a community at play. I think it is what we hoped for in a vibrant town that is negotiating its identity.
Flying Fox (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)
Opening the playground (About Regional)