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Our warming capital needs a free splash park, say Liberals

By Ian Bushnell 11 January 2019 72

The Long Gully Splash Park in Bendigo is a free, zero depth water splash park with a dry play area, shaded seating, barbecues and extra all season play areas. Photo: City of Greater Bendigo.

As Canberra heads towards another week of soaring temperatures, the Canberra Liberals say that the national capital should splash out on a free outdoor water park or two that would provide cooling relief and family fun during our increasingly sizzling summers.

The parks – in all shapes, sizes and designs – have popped up across the country in recent years, built and run by city and town councils as part of the public amenity. But Canberra, strangely, seems to be the odd one out, given the latest climate report.

There are dozens of them across Sydney, with 14 in western Sydney alone, and a 15th due to open in February. The Liberals are also pointing to Brisbane and country centres such as Bendigo, Mildura and Hervey Bay.

Opposition Leader Alistair Coe has visited many with his children. He says there would be many people in Canberra who have travelled interstate or come from interstate, who also would have given their family a fun respite from the heat at a splash park.

He says a water park could be had for about $500,000, which in a budget of $7 billion is ‘doable’.

“A lot of councils have budgeted about 500,000 for splash parks so I think it’s a pretty reasonable investment,” he said. “It’s not prohibitive, it just needs a bit of willpower.”

It’s likely the Liberals will take the proposal into the Assembly this year but at this point, they are sounding out Canberrans on the idea and where they would like to see one, or several.

Mr Coe says a water or splash park could be located in the city centre, Glebe Park, West Basin or on national land around Commonwealth Park, or alternatively in one of the town centres.

Better still in several locations, he says.

Mr Coe says there are many different designs, ranging from shallow paddling pools to play spaces with fountains, jets and slides, and suggests a design competition to select the most appropriate one for Canberra.

“Hopefully you have it in a way that every few years you’re able to mix up the modules and refresh it,” he says.

Pools can be more problematic, but many just have fountains and water immediately drains away to be recycled so there aren’t any safety issues, such as the one at Glenelg in Adelaide.

Mr Coe says that during the winter, the water would be turned off but the park would still provide a play space.

“You just wouldn’t have water going throughout but have other play equipment for kids and families. It’s the same for facilities around the country – outdoor pools only get used for a few months of the year,” he said.

“I think it would get used heavily from October to March, and then depending on how adaptable it is, potentially used in winter as well.”

The Government is currently conducting consultation for the design of three nature play spaces but Mr Coe does not see the water park idea being incorporated.

“It’s a pretty simple proposal that dozens of cities and councils around Australia have already put in place. We don’t need to over-complicate it,” he said. “All over the country they’re very popular, and if they’re designed well they’re relaxing not just for the kids but for the parents and friends while the kids are playing.”

Could Canberra benefit from a water or splash park? Where do you think one should be built?


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63 Responses to
Our warming capital needs a free splash park, say Liberals
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Mathew Ryan 11:34 pm 11 Jan 19

Great policy by the Libs. Seriously, is this all they've got? Lib voter my whole life, but i tell you what, moving to ACT has nearly changed me. Their policies i've seen in the last 3 years are "no trams" and now "splash people".

Cheryl Zehentner 11:08 pm 11 Jan 19

There's a small one at the boundless playground too in the city

Ava Lyons 10:44 pm 11 Jan 19

There is one at Weston Park though.

Crystal Darmody 10:01 pm 11 Jan 19

Dubbo city council has done this well at Elston Park. It's on a large block of land that also has many BBQ's tables, 2 lots of equipment, flying fox and lush lawn for ball games.

Brydie Kelly 9:52 pm 11 Jan 19

A water park of any kind would be a great idea in Canberra.

Lianne Halling 9:48 pm 11 Jan 19

We need lakea with water safe to swim in like a generation ago.

    Alison Britton 4:03 am 13 Jan 19

    Lianne Halling you can swim in the lake. Water is tested regularly

    Karen Austen 1:56 pm 13 Jan 19

    Shepparton stopped using their lake as a swimming pool because (among other reasons) the water was not crystal clear and it made supervision of swimmers too hard.

Bernadette De Riva O'Phelan 9:42 pm 11 Jan 19

Where the container food place was on LBG. Make it like Muddies in Cairns. So so so good.

May Day 9:29 pm 11 Jan 19

The underused commonwealth park could benefit from this... recycle the water on to the plants 🌱

Fiona Lovegrove 9:18 pm 11 Jan 19

Casuarina shopping centre in Darwin has a kid's splash park within their centre. Such a great idea!

rodgerdodger 7:58 pm 11 Jan 19

Perhaps also school competition for the best coal inspired theme.

Ursula Gamal 7:38 pm 11 Jan 19

I know by 2020 the oldies are more than the under 65s. You need to keep the younger generation entertained if you want Canberra to prosper.

Patrick J Pentony 7:36 pm 11 Jan 19

Wow people say that parties in opposition should have positive ideas. Then when they do they get attacked. I think it’s a great idea. I’d love to see some of the huge rates bills I pay going to something fun for my children

Kathryn Nolan 7:21 pm 11 Jan 19

Isn't there a water playground at Weston park?

Annie Wyer 7:18 pm 11 Jan 19

They should put them very close to each satellite town centre. They are very popular overseas.

Taryn Langdon 7:14 pm 11 Jan 19

I am a regular advocate for quality community facilities and love splash parks - but can’t really agree with this as a priority. The cost to provide a safe facility with properly filtered water and regularly maintained surrounds would be enormous (someone should refer to the actual costs of the installation alone for modest splash parks in the existing ACT Government pools for a better reference) for what would realistically be a short period of time that coincides with warm weather and holiday periods. As an alternative, for $18.70 a family of five can spend a whole day at the Dickson Aquatic Centre. Splash Park, 3 x pools, bathrooms, BBQS, amenities, manicured lawns & trees, Lifeguards. I realise this is still a cost however pretty great value when you can supply all your own food and drink.

Matt Donnelly 7:12 pm 11 Jan 19

Please define “free”.

Prakash Prasai 7:01 pm 11 Jan 19

We need something similar to southbank parkland Brisbane

Debs Reno 6:56 pm 11 Jan 19

Both South side and North side should have one, some where near the lakes maybe.

Samantha Robertson 6:44 pm 11 Jan 19

Garema place/City walk - that might increase vibrancy a bit

Simon Alston 6:17 pm 11 Jan 19

The cotter

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