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A New Haven for Adventure: The Children's Forest Nature Playground at Fagan Park

In an exciting development for outdoor education and nature play, the Children’s Forest was officially launched today, April 11, 2024, at Fagan Park in Galston NSW and a fitting week as it is Nature Play week. This landmark event saw significant figures, including Stephen Bali MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Public Spaces, The Hon Matt Kean MP, Member for Hornsby, Mayor Philip Ruddock AO, and representatives from Galston Public School and Arcadia Public School, come together to celebrate this innovative venture.

The Children’s Forest Nature Playground, designed by renowned landscape architect Fiona Robbé, who serves on the Outdoors NSW & ACT Nature Play committee, stands out as the first of its kind on Australia's eastern seaboard. Robbé’s visionary design incorporates an array of features that promise to transform children’s play experiences and connection with nature.

Reflecting the diverse elements of nature, the playspace includes fascinating areas like a yarning circle and outdoor classroom, discovery pods, a large tree on the ground for imaginative play, and intricately designed stepping stones and walkways. The use of natural materials like timber, sandstone, and boulders compliments the park's lush environment, creating an immersive natural playspace.

Special attention has been given to incorporate a variety of tree species, including the Grey Gum, Queensland Bottle Tree, Mulberries, and many more, adding both educational and aesthetic value to the space.

The Children's Forest is more than just a playspace; it's an educational and sensory adventure. It encourages exploration, learning, and a deep appreciation of the natural world. The playground's design elements, such as the yarning circle and discovery pods, are crafted to engage children in environmental education and indigenous culture, fostering respect and knowledge about the land and its history.

"This is a call to other councils to consider such an important asset for their residents in reconnecting children with nature" says Lori Modde, CEO of Outdoors NSW & ACT. This innovative project is not just a landmark for Hornsby but a model for other councils across Australia. It demonstrates how nature play can be integrated into urban settings, enhancing children’s development and fostering a lifelong connection with the environment.

“Not only is it important for children to fall in love with trees as they grow up, but it is vital that they learn the critical role trees play for a more sustainable future”, say Ms Robbé.

The project’s success is a testament to the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders, including Fiona Robbé from Fiona Robbé Landscape Architects, the Hornsby Council, Friends of Fagan Park, Galston Garden Club and the community. This teamwork has resulted in a playground that serves as a beacon for progressive outdoor learning and play spaces across the country.

The Children's Forest Nature Playground, while impressive in its current state, holds even more promise for the future. The long-term vision includes additional elements like a treehouse with a spiral slide, a cable ferry, and a treetop canopy walk, ensuring that the park continues to evolve and inspire for years to come.

This marks a significant milestone in promoting nature play and outdoor education. It's a step forward in creating spaces where children can freely explore, learn, and grow in a natural environment. The Hornsby Council’s initiative serves as a shining example for others to follow, hopefully leading to many more such spaces across Australia.

Pictured: Stephen Bali MP, Fiona Robbé, Lori Modde at Fagan Park 11th April 2024.

Image: Cutting the Ribbon, 11th April 2024, Children's Forest Fagan Park.

Image: Students of Galston Public School & Arcadia Public School finish off the landscaping at the Children's Forest opening 11th April 2024.

Image: Steven Head, GM of Hornsby Council with Uncle Neil welcome guests to the opening of the Children's Forest on 11th April 2024

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