The Journey Begins


The project so far

As you may be aware, the senior oval needs a bit of work. The school and P&C have both been fundraising and saving, and each have $50,000 to put towards this project. Last year, Tania and Maree met with the Education Directorate to discuss how we might reinvent this space. Having considered both natural and artificial turf playing fields, a new suggestion was made – multiple smaller grassy spaces, with lots of trees and other plantings, to create a lush, inviting playspace rather than a traditional sport field. This makes much more sense in the Canberra climate, with our low annual rainfall and extreme temperatures. It also better suits what we know about how children play, and what they need for mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. 

The P&C put together a Project Outline and a funding proposal, which was sent to the Directorate earlier this year. We also started work on defining the scope of the project, and finding the right Landscape Architect to partner with us on the design. We reached out to other P&C’s for advice, and realised that this project needed to be developed through a whole community co-design approach. We also realised that a large landscaping project with clear environmental objectives should be guided by Caring for Country principles, in partnership with the Ngunnawal people. 

Where are we now

We are thrilled to announce that we have now selected our project partners. These are:

Paul Barnett Design Group, a local Canberran Landscape Architecture company with lots of experience designing environmentally regenerative play spaces in schools. Their role is to bring all our ideas together to create a final design for the space, and check all the boring but important details to make sure we can build it.

Thunderstone Aboriginal Cultural Services, headed up by Uncle Tyronne Bell, a Ngunnawal elder with a big focus on learning, a background in landscape design, and experience delivering educational programs in schools. Uncle Tyronne will guide us to look at the space and the project from an Aboriginal perspective, considering the needs and stories of Country here, and our responsibilities to this place. 

Yurbay Consultancies, run by Adam Shipp, a Wiradjuri man who has worked with Greening Australia for many years. Adam has extensive knowledge about native plants in the Canberra region, their traditional uses, and how to share this knowledge with school kids and adults. Adam will work with our students to ensure they have an opportunity to better understand and connect with their space and the plants within it.

And , of course, the ACT Education Directorate , who have kindly agreed to fund the Landscape Architecture component, and are providing a Project Manager.

We have also just been informed that we were successful in our application for a Nature in the City grant from ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development, bringing an extra $20,000 to the project.  

All of these project partners are committed to consulting with the users of the oval and all of your views are vital to the success of this project. So how can you get involved?

Calling for your input

These first few weeks of Term 3 will be spent collecting  your thoughts as to what the space should be, and broadening all our minds on the possibilities for this space.

Already, the P&C have gathered lots of parent feedback over the last few years, and we’ve turned these into a set of phrases which might reflect our vision for the space. We need you to narrow these down, to simply and clearly articulate our whole school community’s aspirations for the space. This guiding “vision” will be used to ensure that the design team is focussed on the priorities of our community as the project progresses. You can read more here, and please fill in our quick survey here.  

Learn more about the possibilities

Our student Leaders are spending some time exploring the concepts below, and we look forward to sharing their learning with you in week 3. In the meantime, you can do some reading of your own. Start by exploring the following:

  • Aboriginal Culture in the Canberra region
  • What are the sacred and important spaces or meeting places?
  • How do we use our playground? What are the journeys or pathways taken through this landscape?
  • What do we learn through Nature Play?
  • What is a sensory garden?
  • Water Harvesting and swales
  • Biomimicry Landscapes
  • Regenerative Landscapes
  • Micro forests
  • Dry creek beds
  • Green Sponge cities

Go to our Knowledge Library for inspiration and further reading.


“Caring for Country is not only caring for land, it is caring for themselves/ourselves… Country holds everything including spaces and places. Spaces and places, even those in urban centres, are thus full of Country, and therefore need appropriate cultural care to ensure healthy landscapes”Dr Daniele Hromek

One comment

  1. Hello, this is wonderful. Well done all of you. When my kids were at North Ainslie, there was a passion for digging in the dirt – actual hard dirt, not sand – although the sandpit wasn’t as developed then – in various places. They created little worlds over time, in groups. It created problems because of safety – trip hazards, and possibly wasn’t good for the trees, but they really got into it. I don’t know if it’s feasible to incorporate dirt spaces where digging and freeform ‘landscaping’ is allowed?

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