By Bonny Burrows
Pakenham’s bumper all-abilities playground is one step closer to fruition.
Works will soon begin on Cardinia Shire’s largest playground, spruiked as a tourist destination for children with and without disabilities, after council on 16 October awarded the project’s tender.
The $1.9 million playspace, to rest within the under construction Deep Creek Reserve, will be built by Victorian company Red Centre Nominees after the company presented the most “beneficial” tender to the council.
The playspace, which will form the centrepiece of the 42-hectare reserve, will include water and sand play, swings and mounds, a slalom course, sensory garden trails and an immersive maze.
A building next to the playground will be a Changing Places facility – a specialist area for those with high needs and their carers to relax in a comfortable and modest place.
It will be funded through contributions from the State Government’s Growing Suburbs Fund and council’s capital works program.
Councillor Jodie Owen said the playspace would be one of the biggest and best of its kind in Victoria.
“Families will be able to plan functions and fun further out (of Melbourne),” Cr Owen said.
“I think Cardinia Shire is really up there with this one.”
Mayor Brett Owen said the playspace would attract plenty of use from locals and visitors alike.
“This will be a tourist destination, particularly for those coming from Gippsland,” the mayor said.
The council expects Deep Creek Reserve to become one of the shire’s star attractions.
Along with the playground, the site – which backs on to the Pakenham Golf Club – will house an ecological centre, indigenous nursery, lookout points, barbecue areas and wetlands.
The mayor said works were progressing well.
“This is the second contract (we’ve awarded) in two months for Deep Creek … this project is up and going,” he said.
The project has been hailed by the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews as a great opportunity to “provide a playground and other facilities for people with special needs and a great redevelopment of a space that hasn’t been properly utilised”.
“It’s a great outcome for the (neighbouring) golf club, and a great outcome for the environment and those who advocated so strongly for it,” Mr Andrews said during a recent site visit.
“And to think those people who have disabilities will be able to access to those playground facilities, that’s a terrific outcome.“
The playground is expected to be open in early 2019.