Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
Picture this: the year is 1919 and you’re standing on the white sandy beach of Lucky Bay on the Eyre Peninsula coast in South Australia, looking up at the first beach shack to be built on the beach. The sun is warm, the water is perfect, and Lucky Bay is the idyllic holiday spot for the surrounding communities of Cowell, Kimba and Cleve.
Now in the 21st century, there are 125 beach shacks, and families from all around still come to visit the Bay!
The Lucky Bay Shack Owners Association (LBSOA) was established in 1950, and its role is to improve the environment and lifestyle of the Lucky Bay settlement for all residents and visitors to enjoy. This includes making sure the beach and local facilities are ship shape and ready to go for incoming holiday makers who are able to rent the beach shacks, as well as local fishermen and caravanners who use the facilities.
With an active role in the community, LBSOA wanted to do something that would bring some joy and a smile to the faces of the visitors to their little town. After prolonged drought, many locals were finding that holidaying with the family was simply a luxury not afforded, especially with livestock to attend to. But Lucky Bay is only 15 km north of Cowell, which makes it a perfect location for farming families to escape to, while still being able to tend to their farms.
Safe play = laughing children and happy parents
LBSOA sought funding from FRRR through the Tackling Tough Times Together (TTTT) program to support their ‘Laughter at Lucky Bay’ project, which would see a three staged plan to make the holiday destination more enticing by developing a child safe playground and surrounding facilities for parents and adults to enjoy.
Funded by the Australian Government, LBSOA received a $51,597 TTTT grant towards stage one of the plan: the purchase of new playground equipment, shade structures, soft fall sand, and fencing.
LBSOA’s President Sue Chase said they were overwhelmed by the community response, once they saw the works underway.
“What we were most astounded by is people’s enthusiasm to participate in working bees, and I think this stemmed from them seeing the playground come to life. Many people in the community provided their time to get the playground up and running. We are also proud of the funds we have raised. Our first ambition was to raise enough funds to contribute our share to the ‘Laughter at Lucky Bay’ playground project. However, we were amazed at the success of our fundraising, which, together with the other grants we received, allowed us to construct a shelter and install a BBQ shed and storage area near the playground,” she said.
The official opening of the playground in January 2021 was attended by hundreds of people who enjoyed the food stalls, jumping pillow, face painting and crab racing activities on offer.
These events not only raised vital funds to support the upkeep of the facilities, but also reinforced a real sense of community participation, lots of fun and helped people get to know one another better.
When asked what they were most proud of, LBSOA said the sheer number of children and even teenagers taking full advantage of the new playground made them so pleased. Extra facilities like a table and chairs and the BBQ have also encouraged parents and adults to spend time together and socialise, giving them a break from the ongoing pressures and stressors that drought can bring.
Woolomin is a rural village located in North West slopes of NSW. It’s home to just 279 residents, including many families, but there is no public playground for the children to play at.
Many young families in Woolomin have limited capacity to travel to larger centres for sport and recreation, due to the costs associated and lack of public transport. Children were increasingly using the streets to play in, and this was problematic, with the main road through the centre of town being quite busy with traffic (connecting Tamworth to popular tourist destinations including Nundle and Chaffey Dam).
It was clear that developing a safe place for children to play, and along the way helping to combat social isolation in the village, was a community priority.
Tamworth Regional Council, in partnership with the Woolomin Recreation Reserve Committee (WRRC), took on the challenge, working together to come up with a plan that would make their community stronger and more socially connected.
Consisting of 12 members, supported by an additional 10 passionate volunteers, WRRC was established in 2004 to develop Woolomin Recreation Reserve as an important hub to the Village, and they’ve since made a range of improvements for the community – the playground project was next.
The two organisations applied for FRRR’s Tackling Tough Times Together program, and were thrilled to hear that they had received a $59,000 grant, thanks to generous funding by the Australian Governement and Stockland CARE Foundation. At the time of applying, Woolomin was fully drought-declared.
With the new funding to install a playground at the local recreation reserve, they got to work, but not before consulting with those who would benefit most from the project – the local kids.
Woolomin Public School children played an integral part in designing the play area through their input into the type of equipment that would be installed. They actually started drawing up plans in mid 2018! The children’s requests were limited only by their imagination, and can be read in their letters to council here. While not every request was possible (zip lines, merry-go-rounds, monorail, a fairy floss fountain, mango trees, skate park and a Beyblade stadium were all put forward, as well as more traditional playground equipment!) it was clear that they put a lot of thought into their submissions.
One student wrote:
“In the park I would like to see a lots of trees, plants, shade shelters, seating, a bike rack and things that can help the environment.”
The final design includes components which encourage fine-motor skill play, gross-motor skill play and imaginative play as well as promoting an accessible and inclusive space for children of all abilities.
There’s nothing stopping these creative Woolomin kids from adding to the playground in the future so that it’s all they desire. For the meantime, it’s clear from their letters that it will bring important benefits.
“A park in Woolomin would make me very happy because it would give me a place to go to calm down and stuff.”
“Thank you for building in Woolomin as it will help the kids be active.”
“Thankyou if you build it. It will be so much fun and help people meet others.”
A number of visitors to the community are accessing the playground, and the local community feedback is very positive. A neighbouring land holder commented that it is “just lovely to hear the children laughing and having fun, I have seen mum reading the paper in the sun and the children on the play equipment.”
The playground has created the opportunity to draw family and community members to a central spot in their community, to spend time together, play and provide a sense of connection and wellbeing.
Well done Woolomin!