Suspended in the gum tree canopy of Cowarra State Forest, Australia’s biggest net suspension playground is set to open in Port Macquarie on September 19 2022.
Designed for all age’s entertainment, Wildnets is a massive network of interactive, interconnected spaces made of taut netting securely fastened between the trees. There are colourful ball pits, slides, interactive toys and giant inflatable balls that cast rainbow shadows on the forest floor. Bounce, run or walk over the vast play spaces and suspension bridges. Swing in hammocks or climb into the treehouses for a bird’s-eye view of the mid-north coast koala habitat.
Koalas are the star of the show. Wildnets is located at the Guulabaa tourism precinct, which means “place of koala” in the Gathang indigenous language. The precinct is built around the world’s first koala breeding program by Koala Conservation Australia, and half the profits from Wildnets go towards conserving the endangered marsupial.
“It has been wonderful to see the precinct gradually take shape, first with the road and bridge and now with Wildnets’ nets and rooms in the treetops,” says Sue Ashton, Chairperson of Koala Conservation Australia. “Wildnets will offer visitors places to jump, slide, play and laugh in amongst the trees and help people to appreciate nature, the outdoors and wildlife including our unique koalas.”
Hung with 39 kilometres of rope and cable, the unique suspended playground champions sustainability with minimal environmental impact, allowing anyone from one year olds to fit adults to play in the forest without disturbing a habitat that’s home to a vibrant ecosystem of Australian native plants and animals.
In the spirit of celebrating the beloved koala, Guulabaa is home to The Big Koala, a two-and-a-half-metre tall fibreglass sculpture. This is the latest and most spectacular Hello Koalas sculpture, designed on a large scale with striking effects, to join the Hello Koalas Sculpture Trail of 83 one-metre-high koala sculptures, hand painted by 69 artists whose designs encompass arts and culture, land and the natural environment. Port Macquarie artist Pauline Rood used the Big Koala as a canvas to showcase koalas living in their native forest habitat. The tourist precinct will include a café and Aboriginal art gallery run by Bunyah Aboriginal Land Council.
Wildnets’ partnership with Forestry Corporation of NSW, the land manager of the Cowarra State Forest, made the project possible. The aim is to create an award-winning tourist precinct providing nature-based experiences that focus on koala conservation, sustainable forest management through traditional Aboriginal practices, as well as treetop adventures and education.
“We are so proud to bring Wildnets to the forest for the enjoyment of locals and visitors. This is just the first exciting stage of our new tourism hub at Guulabaa, and we look forward to many more,” says Kathy Lyons, Senior Manager of FCNSW.
Wildnets, Guulabaa, Cowarra State Forest
Corner of Oxley Highway and Burrawan Drive, Lake Innes NSW 2446, Australia