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Stunning new playground at Sunshine Beach State School

Over four years in the making, with countless hiccups and challenging terrain, Sunshine Beach State School has turned an underutilised sandy hillside into a stunning tiered playground for its junior students. We couldn’t wait to go over for a play!

Sunshine Beach State School’s idyllic setting is indescribable. Located in the tranquil bushland of the Noosa Biosphere, the school is a perfect example of growing around the environment, not over it. It’s easy to get lost in the serenity as you wander through the expansive school grounds, the network of paths winding through the bushland, connecting low-set buildings that work harmoniously with the hillside.

Aerial View of the New Junior Playground at Sunshine Beach State School

Aerial view of the new junior playground at Sunshine Beach State School. Credit: Honeywill Consulting

 

However, this natural setting also brings its own challenges, and when the time came to upgrade their junior primary play area, the school team knew it would not be a walk in the park.

“The first plans began in 2020, and there were times over the last four years when I never thought we’d get to this point!” Says Maree Thomson, business manager at Sunshine Beach State School.

“Because of our location, we needed several additional environmental plans. Before conducting earthworks, there was a koala plan, a tree management plan, and even a UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) investigation because the area was used for military training and live firing during World War II. Also, being located on a water table meant extensive drainage and piping issues to contend with.

This was all on top of planning and contracting such a considerable project during the additional challenging times of COVID and the construction industry’s volatility over recent years.”

“So, to see it all come together is amazing,” says Maree.

Playing on the Stepping Stones at the New Junior Playground at Sunshine Beach State School

Playing on the stepping stones at the new junior playground at Sunshine Beach State School.

 

Amidst the soaring paperbark trees and protected flora and fauna, the new Year 1 to 3 playspace is an impressive blend of natural elements, creative play, space to run, and outdoor learning.

The new space features a small soccer field, perfectly sized for Year 1 to 3 kids. It also has a selection of musical instruments, including five muted drums of different tones, a xylophone and chiming bells—all of which the school’s music teacher already plans to use for outdoor music lessons!

At the top level, they have included a sheltered outdoor area with bench seating around a small stage, ideal for small plays, reading activities and outdoor learning. Then, softball stepping stones, bouldering rocks and a slide leading down to a level area with hopscotch and a 100s number board.

The kid-sized basketball buckets are a lovely addition, with numbered sides offering multiple opportunities for various games.

the Basketball Buckets at Sunshine Beach State School New Junior Playground

The basketball buckets at Sunshine Beach State School’s new junior playground are a huge hit!

 

“It’s a very gentle space,” says Maree. The whole area is designed for all abilities, so our school’s kids with special needs can enjoy it. It also offers sensory activities for those who have sensory needs.”

Following the playground’s opening, Honeywill Consulting, which managed the work, spoke about the project.

“Sunshine Beach State School briefed us to provide a new outdoor learning area to serve as a multi-disciplined play space. We incorporated quiet areas for passive activities, open spaces, and play equipment for action-packed free play during break times.

“Located at the front of the school campus, the new playground has rejuvenated a once sandy and underutilised area, providing a space that inspires greater exploration, activity and opportunity for students.”

“A great outcome overall for the School, The Department of Education and the local community!” From the new handball courts in the shade of the rainforest to the beautifully carved Indigenous totem poles designed to spark imaginative play, the hard work and the wait was all worth it.

Playing on the Drums at the New Junior Playground at Sunshine Beach State School

The drums are a popular addition to the new playground at Sunshine Beach State School.

 

And that’s not all—there are still two further stages for the junior outdoor space!

Stage 2, with an estimated finish date of mid-term 3, will see the addition of nature play elements, stepping stones, and a creek bed with water play, all within the shade of the paperbark trees, in the second tier of the playground. Then, Stage 3, coming in early 2025, will add further climbing and play equipment and more space for free play and outdoor learning to the lower tier.

“All the groundworks are done for stages two and three, so we hope they will go much smoother than this first stage!” says Maree.

Of course, the true judge of a playground’s success is whether the kids like it, so we couldn’t wait to ask them.

“I love the stepping stones!” — Grace, Year 1

“It’s really fun!” —Berlin Year 1

“The soccer space is the best!” — Ben, Year 1

The new playground has also become a hit with the local community. The Sunshine Discovery Playgroup and childcare centre Jelly Babies, that feeds into the school, are already using it.

“Our weekly playgroup has started to play here, and children from the local early learning centre Jelly Babies come and visit regularly for a play,” says Maree. “This helps with the transition of little learners into Prep here at Sunshine Beach,  too, so it will make a difference to families joining the school in the coming years.


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Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids events, attractions & things to do with kids, schools and education, school holiday guides, health & wellbeing for families, parenting and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

 

 

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By Angela Sutherland
After spending many years hustling stories on busy editorial desks around the world, Angela is now mum of two little ones and owner/editor at Kids on the Coast / Kids in the City. She is an atrocious cook and loves cutting shapes to 90s dance music. Angela is the editor of Kids on the Coast - a free family magazine whats on guide for Kids: things to do, school holiday fun and free activities for kids... Fun attractions, family food & travel, kids health & wellbeing, kids parties venues, parenting, pregnancy & babies, guide for parents. Servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and beyond, Kids on the Coast is an online guide for parents with kids things to do with kids, schools and education and lifestyle news located on Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast & Brisbane, QLD.

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