Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park holds a special place in the hearts of many Perth families, and this month the pioneering play space marked ten years of connecting kids to nature.
The beloved urban wilderness was the first of its kind in the world when it threw open its gate in 2011. The play space encourages children to immerse themselves in Western Australia’s incredible natural environment, encouraging new experiences and a greater appreciation of the natural world.
When it first opened it broke through the prevailing mindset of the time that nature-play presented too many risks. Far from being a place of concern, parents and children embraced the opportunity to ‘get back to bush’ and the play space is expected to welcome its one millionth visitor in 2022.
Adventure and imagination is encouraged through free play with features including two large aerial walkways, a waterhole, cubby building area and a web of climbing ropes amidst bushland challenges.
Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority Executive Director Alan Barrett said the idea for Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park first originated from the need to encourage children away from staying indoors and on electronic devices.
'Playing outside in nature is vital for children's mental, physical and emotional development,' he said.
'By developing this nature play space we created an environment for children to explore the natural world while being challenged, learning and having fun.
'This experience at a young age will also help to create advocates for our environment in the future as the next custodians of our State's biodiversity.'
Since 2011 nature playgrounds and mini ‘naturescapes’ have popped up in local councils, new housing estates and schools all over WA.
To mark the anniversary, Rio Tinto Vice President of Health, Safety, Environment and Communities Cecile Thaxter announced a further $1.6 million over the next three years to support Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park and the early learning program Zippy’s Kings Park Adventures.
'Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park really has been a game-changer when it comes to nature play and has been a repeat destination for so many WA families over the years,' she said.
'Rio Tinto is proud to have supported this fantastic, ground-breaking facility for the past 10 years.’