By Melissa Meehan
Hawthorn’s ‘Rocket’ playground is here to stay after residents got fired up about plans to remove the local landmark.
The rocket ship piece of the playground, located at the Central Gardens, will be saved and the play area will be redeveloped for another generation of children to enjoy.
Boroondara Council initially found the playground rocket to be unsafe and made plans to remove it.
But the community made clear their desire to retain the 1960s rocket.
A heritage study also found the rocket is of local heritage, being the last of its kind operating as playground equipment in Victoria.
The rocket will be removed temporarily while works are conducted on the rocket ship to ensure it meets safety regulations.
Those works will include installation of new concrete footings, replacement of all rubber surfacing, adding a new side ladder for better access, increasing standing space, modifying the gaps between some of the metal bars and increasing internal circular openings between each platform.
These works will minimise the risk of injury or fall, prevent limb entrapments and improve access to children. Modifications will not impact the well-known attributes of the rocket, or its local heritage value.
The new playground design, which is available for the community to view, centres around the rocket and utilises the theme of space exploration to create a playful narrative.
A petition to save the rocket park, on change.org, received more than 11,000 signatures.
“Council was delighted with the feedback received from the Boroondara community and beyond, feedback which influenced not only the retention and upgrading of the rocket, but a whole new playground design, now based on a lunar theme,” Glenferrie Ward Councillor Wes Gault said.
“While many councils in Victoria have destroyed these rockets or removed them from playgrounds, the City of Boroondara has found a way to keep its rocket for many generations of children to enjoy. The new play area to be provided will improve access for children and carers from many abilities.
“We believe we need to provide more exercise and play options in our open spaces for everybody to enjoy.
“Like many that have come before, I am looking forward to seeing more generations of children make memories to last a lifetime in this fun and exciting new playground.”