Home - Chermside & District History


Kidspace - the Concept

The original idea for Kidspace came from Leslie Karantonis who lived at Kalinga, a northern suburb of Brisbane. She had heard of a children's playground in Ballarat, Victoria and the idea of a similar playground in Brisbane appealed to her. After trying unsuccessfully to encourage the building of a playground in Kalinga, she and two friends took the idea to Terry Hampson, Brisbane City Councillor for the Marchant Ward. He was also approached by Simon Honywood, a Community Development Officer with the Council.

Kidspace site on 21 November 1996.

The Preparations

At first there was some opposition to the project. Chermside has a very large elderly population but there are several schools fairly close to 7th Brigade Park where the proposed playground was to be built. The Brisbane City Council allocated $192,0000 towards the project. Other major sponsors were Westfield Shopping Centre, Kedron Wavell Services Club, Coles and Myers.

Kidspace was the project of an American firm, Robert Leathers & Associates who conducted research in the various schools to find out what children really wanted in a new playground. The space ship theme was the overwhelming favourite. A major element in the design was to recognize the need for shade in the Queensland climate.

The Council accepted the tender from Robert Leathers & Associates. It had an international reputation in playground design and the business encouraged community involvement and sponsorship. The Chermside Community Kidspace Committee was formed and over 1000 volunteers worked on the project which was managed by a paid co-ordinator and volunteer office staff. Aspley Lions Club members were very enthusiastic and appealed for donations of materials - timber, nails, cement - anything useful to build a playground. There were other groups who organized the food for the volunteers, child minding facilities.

After the storm with heavy machinery brought brought in to overcome storm damage.

The Building

Volunteers working against time to repair storm damage on site.

The U. S. visitors supplied the plans and the management of building activity. A private operator dug the holes and the Brisbane City Council supplied special equipment and operators to erect the poles. The community organisations supplied the muscle to put the thousands of pieces together.

The volunteers set to work to nail, glue, bolt, screw, saw, plane, level, lift, hold in place while someone else did one of the above, to dig holes, fill in holes, to make the tea and coffee, cut the sandwiches, patch up the cuts and grazes of the workers, to supply sun cream, cool water and a good lie down if someone over did their exertions. This sounds like chaos but it was carefully organised and everything got done.

A Storm Complicated the Progress

The project was planned to take 10 days - and it did. On the first night, there was a typical Brisbane thunder storm and the holes for the posts filled with water. The organizers then had to find heavy machinery operators who could drain the holes and reset the poles - for free. Volunteers worked from 7am to 10-11pm, under floodlights. Students from Geebung School painted for hours, only to have vandals destroy their work. A local paint firm then donated anti-graffiti paint.

Some of the materials used to build Kidspace. It looks more like a jigsaw than a playground at this stage. The photo was taken before the roof was built so there is much less light coming in now.

The Building Progresses

Kidspace Early Visitors
Kidspace was being used even before it was finished which shows just how keen the people were on the structure.

The Finished Building

Kidspace Ten Years On 2009
Kidspace south side ten years old with trees growing in and around. Still as popular as ever, this must rank as one of the most successful community assets in Chermside and District

The Army Reserves did the landscaping at the end of the project, using machinery to level the ground and place the bark chips. It was finished on 1 December 1996, all except for the roof which was added in 1998. Vandals destroyed a toilet block in 1999. This was replaced by a building which, it was hoped, was vandal-proof.

It has become a very popular playground for children (and their parents.) Weekends and school holidays are crowded with families who often stay to picnic or barbecue. The area is enhanced by cycle tracks useful for little children learning to ride bicycles and learn road rules. Free band concerts encourage older members of the community to visit the parklands. The track is also the beginning of Avenue of Honour leading to Newman Road, Geebung. A side track leads to two bridges crossing Downfall Creek with large plantings of indigenous trees sponsored by Greening Australia during the Mountains to Mangroves Festivals over the last few years. These maturing trees have encouraged a wide variety of birds and animals to live in the area. The remarkable aspect is that the site is very close to a major arterial road and intersection and a very large shopping centre.

Kidspace has been so successful that the Council has installed "mini Kidspace" playgrounds in many Brisbane suburbs.

Vandalism - Toilet Destroyed

Kidspace Toilet Fire 1999
The caption on the front page of the Northside Chronicle expresses the feelings of the people of Chermside. The toilet cost $60,000 to replace and it was only a few years old.

Excerpt from the Northside Chronicle,
Wednesday 21-3-1999
By Niki Widdowson
BUCKLED roofing iron, charred timber and twisted plumbing was all that remained of the Kidspace toilet block after it was torched in the early hours of Thursday (25th March 1999).
Regular visitors to the unique children's playground were left stunned on Thursday morning at the wanton destruction of a much used Community asset.
Kidspace in Murphy Rd, Chermside, was built jointly by the Aspley Lions, Brisbane City Council and the community. It is visited by hundreds of people from the northern suburbs and surrounding areas.
Aspley Lions member Earle Rawlings, who works voluntarily at the playground every day, said he was devastated by the destruction of the $60,000 toilet block built to complement Kidspace's timber style.
"It was custom built. It had wheelchair access and fittings for the disabled and baby change tables with harnesses," Mr Rawlings said.
Councillor Terry Hampson (Marchant Ward) described the vandalism as "pure bastardy".
"I am just so angry. There is s no logical reason to do something like that," he said.
Cr Hampson said the toilet block was insured and would be replaced as soon as possible. In the meantime, portaloos would be installed.
Boondall Senior Sergeant Kevin Phillips said police wanted to speak to four young people who were seen at the Murphy Rd entrance of Kidspace at 2am.
A description of two of the older children was provided by a passing taxi driver.
Chermside fire officer Brian Coates said one engine attended the fire after the alarm was raised at 2.28am. The blaze was under control by 2.35am.