A new inclusive playground for St Ives Showground


A playground upgrade at St Ives Showground is planned to address the lack of play facilities at this important site, and to enable more effective public use of the Showground which is regionally significant open space. 

The Plan of Management adopted by Council 26 May 2015 includes the playground as one of the initiatives to improve the St Ives Showground. This additional play area will improve the opportunities for inclusion and recreation for a wide range of visitors to the St Ives Showground, in response to increasing population growth. Funding for the playground upgrade has been assisted by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment through the Metropolitan Greenspace Grant Program.

The objective is to provide an inclusive regional playground in a suitably sized space for outdoor and natural play and value-add other existing recreational opportunities and facilities.

Set within the remnant edge of Duffy’s Forest bushland, the existing playground equipment will be replaced with a range of play equipment and nature-play experiences for all ages and abilities. This playground will sensitively blend with the Showground’s character, referencing its cultural history and indigenous vegetation. The play area will not only be a destination place for children and their families, but also add recreational value to the Showground’s diverse mix of existing open space opportunities.

The concept design has been prepared by specialist playground designer, Fiona Robbe Landscape Architect, together with Council’s landscape architects and other technical staff.


Playspace design

Council adopted a concept design for the playground in December 2016. The primary objective behind the design is inclusion - that there is something fun or challenging for everyone somewhere in the playground with plenty of opportunities to play alongside others and for social interaction.

A secondary objective is to enhance nature play opportunities to encourage children to spend more time playing outdoors using their imaginations in a natural setting. It inspires open-ended possibilities for self-designed play, creativity, learning and socialising.

The concept plan has evolved in response to detailed site investigations and design development. A revised concept design has been developed to combine inclusive play options with the requirements of both the available funding and site constraints. There are a number of sensitive complex site factors such as slope, the surrounding Endangered Ecological Community of Duffy’s Forest and associated soils, existing site drainage and infrastructure, cultural heritage from previous site uses and the rural character of the landscape. Supporting amenities such as accessible parking and toilet, picnic areas, seating and link paths will blend the new playground equipment and play areas into the natural bushland setting and complement the rural character and activities of the Showground. Funding limits may require some of the elements to be provided in stages when funds become available.

View the revised concept plan here. (pdf. 14MB)

The concept design includes a range of play areas for nature play and structured play experiences. A variety of inclusive play options are proposed, supported by site facilities linked via an accessible pathway network.


Nature play areas

Nature play areas are for unstructured play. They offer timber, rocks, loose materials (mud, dirt, pebbles, twigs, leaves and sand) intermingled with plants.

Natural settings enable children to explore beyond play equipment and use their curiosity for creative and imaginative play activities, to play without formal structure and within their own capabilities.

Structured play areas

Structured play areas are located throughout the playground and are targeted at key users.

Inclusive play area for everyone (all ages, all abilities)

This play area is for structured play involving a range of inclusive equipment. This area is relatively level and close to parking and amenities. There are swinging, spinning, balancing and rocking experiences catering for a variety of abilities and set within a planted natural landscape using existing shade trees.

There will also be some places for quiet retreat and a variety of sensory play opportunities in different locations that can be discovered and explored.

The inclusive play area has generous seating linked with accessible pathways to toilets and parking, bubblers, other adjacent play areas and surrounding bushland. This can empower children with varying abilities to find their own challenge and comfort level, and develop at their own pace and within their capabilities.

There is variety and choice catering to a broad user group with diverse needs.

Younger children's play area (6 years and under)

Play begins simply and grows more complex as a child grows. Designed specifically for this age group, this area offers a variety of play opportunities including cubby houses, a low slide, shop nooks, and an imaginative farm/showground play setting.

The scale of play elements is smaller but challenging for brain development, motor-skills and developing social, cognitive and emotional capabilities.

Older children's play area (6 years and older)

Fun and challenge are encouraged by rope climbing, high slides, elevated enclosed rope walkways, a double flying fox, and a giant birds nest swing.  Children can test themselves, meet challenges, expend energy and take risks, but always in safety.

st-ives-showground skywalk  

Other considerations


Natural slopes and existing barriers to bushland or heritage items prevent the whole site from being fully accessible, but barrier free access is provided for accessible parking, toilets, picnic areas, pathways and play space wherever possible.

Shade and fencing

The site is well shaded by existing mature trees with play areas integrated among them. Additional trees will be planted to maintain the forest character, within the constraints of bushfire management, and shade structures will be provided at key locations.

The entirety of the playground will be securely fenced with see-through fences to a minimum height of 1.2m high and gates with latches compliant with disability access needs.

Supervision by parents or carers will be a requirement in the playgrounds.

Support facilities

The design caters for children and their carers. Supporting facilities include parking, seats with backs and armrests, picnic tables that encourage social interaction, picnic shelters, toilet, bubbler and bottle filling tap, bins, bike racks, clear wayfinding, information signs, and sightlines for supervision.

Natural and cultural heritage

The Showground site contains remnant vegetation from the Duffy’s Forest Community EEC. The playground construction will retain and protect healthy trees and any removals will be off-set with additional tree planting. The existing playground is located in a mown area with no understorey. Areas beyond the site will benefit from protection and staged regeneration of forest trees, diverse shrub layers and grassy ground layer. The site works will remediate uncontrolled runoff and erosion.

The St Ives Showground’s cultural heritage has been carefully considered in the playground design. Play equipment such as windmills and timber animal sculptures will reflect the showground’s agricultural history. Existing army building remains remnants will be unaffected by the new playground.

The site’s potential for Aboriginal heritage has been investigated and none has been linked to the area. The playground is respectful of the natural landscape as well as responding sensitively to the history of the site.


St Ives Showground, 450 Mona Vale Road, St Ives

Next steps

The contract for the construction of the playground was awarded at Council's Ordinary Meeting on 26 March 2019. Works on the site has commenced and is expected to be completed in 2020.

More information

If you have any questions not answered by this web page, please contact:

Warwick Brown, Project Manager

Email: wbrown@kmc.nsw.gov.au

Phone: (02) 9424 0842