You would be forgiven for thinking you had been teleported back to days before the Internet as you walked past the Irvine Street greenway space in Watson.
Kindergarten children sway along with exercise wheels on small gravel paths, while teens compare tricks on big jumps; parents picnic, young couples walking hand in hand as retirees with their dogs on a leash rearranging their afternoon walks to make use of the new space.
There is no iPad in sight and phones are just used to take the big leaps, first trips and new friends.
But the area was an almost pristine and unused lawn just weeks ago, Father Tom Corra said.
And then he started digging — just a little trail to let his six-year-old son Noah get some exercise near home. But his imagination turned out to be very small compared to the neighborhood children.
“Most of the kids were probably between six and ten years old, they all come out, and they all got their rake or their shovel, and pretty much the kids ended up taking over the project,” he said.
“They just all chop and build … dig away in dirt, make their own tracks, and it escalated a bit and kept going up the hill.
“It’s started from something small and escalated to a much bigger, much bigger thing.”
The community has embraced the course, which Mr Corra said proved to be a more COVID-19 safe solution than gathering on playgrounds.
“The other day there were four or five families all sitting and having a morning picnic while the kids had a few laps on the bike path,” Corra said.
“I was thinking what a beautiful Sunday afternoon. And then I actually thought it’s four o’clock on a Thursday afternoon … [but with] all these families out and enjoying the sun and the kids running around, it just felt like a perfect Sunday afternoon. “
Corra said the course is only designed to be temporary, a postponement for both children and parents as they struggle with lockdown and homeschooling.
“[My son] goes out for a quick nice bike ride, then comes back in time and still gives me some freedom to get some work done. And it is also across many families in the area, ”he said.
However, the course has not loved the whole community. A couple of neighbors complained about the noise, but Mr Corra said they have been turned around.
“It would change anyone’s mind when you see a four-year-old girl learning to ride — she gets to the bottom and she high fives her mom or a dad. It makes it all worth it,” he said.
The community believes the track’s popularity highlights the lack of resources put into communities in Watson and Hackett.
Sir. Corra said that while new suburbs are getting “amazing playgrounds and connecting bypasses,” the older inner suburbs were left with old playgrounds that were not popular with children.
He said that while the bike path could be a pop-up space for lockdown, he wanted the ACT government to invest in playgrounds, “kids actually want”, that are nature-based and creative, instead of old-fashioned playgrounds.
“In the Watson, Hackett area, there is not really anything for the kids. There are a few playgrounds that were built in the 1970s, 80s,” he said.
“[There’s] no kids on the playground, there are just kids doing laps and laps and laps and laps around on their bikes.
“It really highlights the direction we’re going. What kids want [is] outdoor play, nature-based kinds of things. “
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