BIG PICTURE: Landscape designer David Hatherly from Vee Design at the Orion Lagoon.
BIG PICTURE: Landscape designer David Hatherly from Vee Design at the Orion Lagoon. Inga Williams

How Orion Lagoon went from no-swim zone to water playground

THE hugely popular Orion Lagoon at Springfield Central was originally a no-go zone for swimmers.

Vee Design director David Hatherly was involved in the masterplan for the entire parkland precinct from stage one of Robelle Domain in late 2008.

He said it was the popularity of the small water play area in stage one that inspired him to convince Springfield Land Corporation and Ipswich City Council to change the original design of a terraced waterfall and green space parkland into what is now the largest water play facility in south-east Queensland.

"We always had intentions for this area to be a series of urban cascades and spectacle gardens down the hill where the grass terraces are. It was never intended to be a swimming lagoon," Mr Hatherly said.

"As part of the stage one we introduced the water pay area and everybody was a little sceptical about how popular that was going to be. At the time it was quite unique. The Strand in Townsville had one, Southbank had just opened theirs. They had a little water activities area.

"Once stage one was opened the water play was just so popular, and we noticed the stepped waterfall even though people weren't meant to be in there, people were just gravitated toward the water. It was ankle deep water but people were in it, walking through it.

"The discussion started, and Cr (David) Morrison was a big advocate and saw the vision and opportunities to potentially look at putting in a swimming lagoon as an alternative to the water cascades."

Mr Hatherly said our parks had become more important as backyards disappeared and safety was more of an issue in neighbourhoods.

"The challenge we have as we try to fit more and more people into our city, our houses are getting bigger, but our blocks are getting smaller, so our backyards have disappeared," he said.

"Parks are more than just a barbecue and an open space kick-around, they need to be attractions where people can spend a day in."



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