We have renewed the playground at Central Gardens, Hawthorn, known by many as 'Rocket Park'. The new space-themed playground design was informed by community feedback we received during consultation in February 2021.

Status

Construction is now officially complete and the new playground is open to the public. An official opening event will be held in mid-October 2022. 

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Restoration of the rocket

During consultation, our community indicated a strong desire for the existing rocket play piece to be retained. We listened to our community and worked hard to renew the lifespan of the original 1960s rocket by taking it through a comprehensive restoration process.

The restoration has significantly improved the original rocket’s safety, structure and look for future generations to enjoy for years to come.

You can view the rocket’s restoration journey by viewing the photo gallery and video below.

Timeline

When Stage Progress update
February 2021 Community consultation We asked the community for their feedback to help inform the design of the new playground
March - April 2021 Further investigations undertaken into retaining the rocket  These investigations confirmed the existing rocket can be retained and renewed with specific modifications. 
June 2021 Playground design concept finalised The design concept for the renewed playground is shared with the community 
Late March 2022 Playground closed and works to commence The rocket is removed from site for refurbishment works while construction works are also undertaken for the wider playground renewal
Week commencing 22 August 2022 The rocket returns to Central Gardens playground The rocket touches back down on-site following restoration works
Mid-September 2022 Renewed playground complete The playground is reopened for the community to enjoy. 
Mid-October 2022 A small official opening event will be held at Central Gardens playground Formal proceedings with Councillor speeches, ribbon cutting and face painting will take place from 11am. Our community are invited to attend. Sign up to our mailing list below to receive updates about the event. 

More information

For more information, contact Council’s Landscape and Design team on (03) 9278 4444 or [email protected].

If you'd like to be kept informed about the progress of this project, sign up to our mailing list.

The restoration process included:

  • improving access by increasing the width of the circular internal openings
  • adding a side ladder access point
  • replacing both slides 
  • repairing the footings and the base of the rocket to address metal corrosion
  • infilling gaps to meet current spacing standards
  • replacing all rubber surfacing
  • treating and painting the entire structure.

A heritage assessment conducted before the restoration took place concluded that these works would not adversely impact the well-known attributes of the rocket. 

Project background

This project included new and renewed play equipment, nature play opportunities, shade, improved accessibility, renewal of some park amenities, and new landscaping.

Prior to consultation, external auditors assessed the safety of the playground and maintenance requirements of the existing equipment. These audits identified elements where the existing equipment no longer met current playground safety standards, as well as a number of structural issues. 

Community consultation was held in February 2021 to help inform the new playground design.

Following community consultation, we engaged additional independent experts to undertake further investigations on the rocket. This included another play audit, structural report and heritage assessment to determine if there was a way to retain it.   

These investigations re-confirmed previous safety and structural concerns, stating we could retain and renew the lifespan of the existing rocket for future generations to enjoy provided modifications were made.

Playground design concept

The renewed playground design is centred around the rocket, and utilises the theme of space exploration to create a playful narrative that supports this much-loved play piece. 

Key features of the new design include: 

  • a renewed rocket that has stood the test of time and holds strong connection to ‘days gone by’ and the power of human endeavour
  • new ‘traditional’ equipment such as monkey bars and a combination play unit combined with a partly accessible ‘mission control centre’
  • inspired ‘Mars landing terrain exploration’ with mounds, tunnels, rocks and craters for balancing, clambering and hopping challenges for all ages
  • water play zone
  • a variety of swings for young and old
  • increased playground access overall, with path connectivity and paved play surfaces suitable for users with limited mobility so all children and their families can play together
  • increased built and natural shade canopies, inspired by out of space constellations and UFOs 
  • upgrade of the adjacent drinking fountain.

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