Dam good job

Dam good job

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Cr Shaye Mack, President Rob Coales, Kylie Mullane, Linda Peyton, and Deputy President Tricia Duggin try out the new play equipment.

The new nature-themed playground at the Serpentine Dam has been serendipitously opened just in time for the winter school holidays.

Around 70 workers from Water Corporation – which oversaw the project – gathered last Tuesday to plant over 2000 native plants as a sort off ‘topping out’ ceremony.

Water Minister Simone McGurk and Member for Darling Range Hugh Jones coaxed the last remaining ‘Silver Princess’ eucalypt into its new home; burying the collective disappointment over schedule setbacks, and planting hope that the community will warmly embrace the new $2.5 million recreation space.

“I know there have been delays. But I think the community will see the benefits immediately, and for many years to come,” Minister McGurk said before praising Water Corporation for a “dam good job”.

Local member Hugh Jones and Water Minister Simone McGurk plant the last tree.

For Bistro By The Dam owners Linda Peyton and Kylie Mullane, the occasion was a moment of pure relief.

Fences went up on the project site in November 2022 – just six months after the pair opened up their new venture overlooking the dam.

The masses of cyclone fencing had a huge impact on business at the bistro, but the pair grinned and bore it, knowing the boon that would come their way once the playground was opened.

“People would just drive in and drive out all the time, thinking the place was closed,” Kylie said.

“It was really hard. And buses stopped coming because they just couldn’t easily get in and out – we used to have quite a few senior groups come and visit us when we first opened, but they’ve slowed right down.”

“And we’ve spent so much money on advertising, trying to let everyone know we were still open,” Linda said.

What was supposed to take months, has taken one-and-a-half years, after the original contractors went belly up during the construction phase. And the project budget blew out considerably too – what was once touted as a million-dollar upgrade more than doubled in price by the end.

“It didn’t go very smoothly, but Water Corp has been amazing and kept us informed every step of the way,” Linda said.

With a shiny new playground on their doorstep, Linda and Kylie are excited to watch their business take off.

“We often see more of the older crowd, so we’re hoping that this will encourage more families to come out,” Linda said.

“We’ve got the bird feeding which is already quite popular, but with this here too, we’re hoping to watch numbers grow.”

They’re investing in a new take-away window which will serve up coffees and hand-held goodies for people to enjoy in the new outdoor space.

The park upgrade also features new picnic tables, accessible toilet facilities and additional parking.

But the centrepiece is the playground, made up of a range of differently-skilled elements for sliding, swinging, climbing and balancing – all easily accessible via a gently winding path.

Project manager Dennis Chong said the natural landscape was front of mind when plans were being drawn up.

“We tried to blend in with the natural elements; make use of the local story and landscape, and the existing plants, trees and rocks,” Mr Chong said.

 

Jarrah has been featured heavily throughout the playground, and all plants used in landscaping efforts are WA species.

The playground is also fully enclosed, for parents’ peace of mind.

There are no shade covers, but Linda and Kylie said the trees on the slope beside the playground provide a lot of shade even during summer.

“It’s now just all about getting the word out there that this is here – it’s such a great day trippers’ paradise. We’ve got an abundance of birdlife, views of the dam, and the natural jarrah forest,” Linda said.

“We’re here for the long haul, and we’ve got lots of plans, so watch this space.”