Member for Kiama Gareth Ward MP has today officially turned the first sod on the Rotary Nature Play Park at Boongaree in Berry after securing $4.4 million funding from the New South Wales Government for this project.

Mr Ward was joined by representatives from Berry Rotary and the Rotary Nature Play Park Steering Committee for this milestone and official sod-turning event in Berry.

“This concept is a first for our region and is very exciting for all involved. Like many adventure playgrounds, the Rotary Nature Play Park at “Boongaree” will provide a range of activities for all ages and levels of ability, but set within a nature theme,” he said.

“Berry Rotary has been working hard to raise funds for this project since 2014 with the project adopted by Shoalhaven City Council as part of the Berry Strategic Plan in 2016.

“Similar playgrounds in other parts of the country are not just popular with local families, but these facilities become tourism attractions for younger families that may want to play and stay in Berry.

“A community stakeholder workshop to commence the development of the Master Plan for the whole of Boongaree (formerly the Berry District Park) was held in April 2017.

“After considerable input by all user groups and the community, the final version for this Master Plan was endorsed by Shoalhaven City Council in late 2018.

“I was absolutely delighted to secure $4.4 million funding from the NSW Government to make this project a reality as it will become a real community asset for the Berry township,” Mr Ward said.  

The Chair of the Nature Play Park Steering Committee Grahame Sweeney said that today’s sod turning was a very important milestone for the local Berry community.

“Back in 2014 when the bypass of Berry was looming, it was realised that the children of Berry were traveling to other townships just for their playgrounds, as Berry only had a basic set of play equipment. And Berry also offered little for young families visiting the area so the Rotary Club of Berry wanted to do something about it,” Grahame said.

“This new Nature Play Park will change all of that – it is very welcome news and a real win for the local Berry community,” Mr Sweeney said.

Berry Rotary Club Treasurer Bill Seelis said:

“The Berry Rotary Club is grateful and fortunate to have received magnificent support from our local Member Gareth Ward MP for Kiama and the NSW State Government as whilst the establishment of the Nature Play Park was a vision for the Club it could simply not have been realised without the substantial financial support we have received,” Bill said.

“The Club has entered into a tripartite agreement with the NSW State Government and Shoalhaven City Council and has been charged to ensure proper acquittal of the funds received,” Mr Seelis concluded.

The Rotary Nature Play Park will include:

  • A diverse range of settings, physically accessible, socially inclusive and welcoming for all young families regardless of their level of ability;
  • A wide range of attractions to allow favourite mini-spaces, with graded challenges to help children develop their physical skills and gain a sense of satisfaction as they develop their confidence;
  • Flying foxes, climbing nets, water channels and tunnels, the area will encourage children to ponder over details of nature, to play creatively with loose materials, to imagine, to role play and engage socially with each other in games of their own; and
  • A ‘learn to ride’ roadway track to enable learning of road rules for local school students, along with senior’s fitness and exercise stations, BBQ picnic areas, garden landscaping and toilets.