Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park is a place for children to connect with nature. It is also the home of Kings Park Education. Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park will be closed in 2017 for the construction of a Stage 2 development.

Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park Stage 2 plans.View image slideshow

From 2018, visitors can expect the gates to re-open with a new rockpool and a larger creek to paddle in, a 7 metres high 'sky scramble' aerial walkway, a rocky scarp to scramble over, more climbing ropes and nets and a new cubby zone. New outdoor teaching facilities will also be added to keep up with demand from schools for our education programs.

This super-exciting $3 million upgrade is made possible thanks to our partner, Rio Tinto. Rio Tinto has been a strong supporter of this world-first nature space, contributing almost $9 million to the project since it opened in 2011.

Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park is a place devoted to connecting children with nature and learning about the Western Australian environment, local Aboriginal culture and the natural sciences.

Covering 6 hectares and surrounded by natural bushland, the facility includes a  popular elements including a running creek with rocky banks, log bridges, climbing ropes, tree hides, a cubby building zone, bridges and meandering paths. Two thirds of the precinct is open to the general public and one third is a dedicated Education zone. Each section offers a unique experience, designed to appeal to children of different ages, personalities and abilities.

When it opened in October 2011, the project was the first of its kind in the world. Since then, we have welcomed around 80,000 visitors each year and many other organisations have started to deliver similar projects around the globe.

A second phase of development is set to take place in Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park in 2017. You may like to download an information sheet on the Stage 2 project: pdfRio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park Stage 2 plans3.34 MB

Philosophy

The idea for this project arose from growing community concerns that urban children are spending less time outdoors exploring nature and, as such, are increasingly disconnected from the natural world.

This prompted us to ask the question:

'How can we expect children to care for something they have never experienced?'

Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park delivers a practical response to this issue. The purpose of this space is to encourage young Western Australians to love and protect our unique and precious environment by providing a hands-on experience of nature.

As a conservation organisation, this is an important priority for Kings Park and Botanic Garden. The benefits for unstructured outdoor activity for children on mental health, social and cognitive skills, problem solving, physical fitness and healthy development are also clear.

Background

Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park has established itself as a leader in connecting children with nature since it opened in October 2011. Since then, around 80,000 visitors have come each year, including 18,000 students for Kings Park Education programs in our outdoor 'living classrooms'. It is one of the first facilities of its kind in the world and has paved the way for changing attitudes to designing outdoor areas for children and the value of 'nature play'.

This project was originally made possible through a large cross-sector partnership with Rio Tinto, the Friends of Kings Park, Lotterywest, Solar Cities and the Water Corporation.

Rio Tinto remains the major partner for this project, contributing significant funding and in-kind support until at least 2020.

Volunteers

A team of amazing volunteers operates in Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park.

Naturescaper volunteers assist with education programs for schools, nature activities, welcoming visitors and ensuring a safe experience for all.

These volunteers receive training and ongoing development opportunities. We encourage interested people from all walks of life to apply to become a Naturescaper. We seek volunteers who are willing to take part in training and provide a minimum commitment of six months to the role.

Contact the Volunteer Coordinator for further information.

Useful resources

References

  • Louv. R. (2005). Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.
  • Rinker, H.B. (2002), The Weight of a Petal: The Value of Botanical Gardens. An ActionBioscience.org original article.

    A sketch of the new rock pool area that will be added to Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park in 2017. A sketch of the new aerial walkway that will be added to Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park in 2017. Living classrooms in Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park. Photo: J. D'Arcy. Paddling in the creek. Photo: J. D'Arcy. Log walking