AN artist's impression of the post-Marcia redevelopment showing a proposed water play area.
AN artist's impression of the post-Marcia redevelopment showing a proposed water play area. Contributed

'Big backyard’ draft includes picnic spots, play areas

A SPACE celebrating Australian flora, filled with shady picnic spots, community lawns and play areas for families.

That's the vision for "Rocky's big back yard" following Cyclone Marcia's destruction in February.

The park was extensively damaged during the natural disaster, with syringes, asbestos and other rubbish from its time as a landfill unearthed.

The site wasn't correctly capped when it closed as landfill in the 1980s, allowing some material to resurface during Marcia.

Rockhampton Regional Council has previously estimated it would cost close to $12 million to clean the park.

In yesterday's full council meeting, the proposed redevelopment plans for the park were revealed and will now be open to four weeks community consultation.

The master plan was developed by consulting firm Urbis and takes inspiration from Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Scotland.

While they have looked at the space as a clean slate, plans revealed the waterfall, sensory gardens and electronic playground would all be incorporated into the new design.

Council plans to build the site back to being an Australian native botanic garden, with a diverse display of seasonal colour lining the Bruce Hwy.

The plans also include "sculptural landforms" which run the length of the park as well as natural play areas, including felled trees and unique play elements, and interactive water play areas.

While the monorail hasn't been included in the preliminary plans, Rockhampton Regional Mayor Margaret Strelow said she was open to community suggestions on where it could sit.

The sensory gardens will be expanded to include a maze and a larger dog agility and off-leash area will be created.

For the region's active crowd, there will also be a synthetic running track and large open lawns for fitness classes.

Cr Strelow said she was "really excited" by the plans.

"The draft plan keeps the natural 'Australian native' feel of the gardens while recognising the transformation wrought by Marcia," she said.

"We know we can't put it back to the way it was."

While the draft plans were unanimously accepted by council, some councillors raised issues they would like to see addressed before the final design.

Councillor Cherie Rutherford said she was concerned that the artist's impressions of the plans showed many big trees, something which may not be possible at Kershaw Gardens again due to the condition of the previous landfill.

Likewise, she said more investigation would need to be done into what water courses could be created.

Community consultation will run for four weeks.



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