Illawarra children dream of playgrounds full of waterslides where you land in a pile of mud, or giant blue swings buffered by "cushions that smell like chocolate", a new Wollongong City Council report reveals.
While the council may not be able to deliver on these imaginative wishes, it is keen to make sure the 35,000 children projected to be living in the city in 2024 have access to quality parks and playgrounds through a 10-year play strategy.
The council maintains 155 play spaces from Helensburgh to Windang, but says some of its smaller, ageing playgrounds will need to be removed to make way for better, more evenly distributed parks.
It also says play spaces need to be designed to suit all ages and abilities, and include a mix of informal and formal play areas to encourage different types of play.
Additionally, the parks should be safe while encouraging risk taking and an active lifestyle, the strategy says.
Council staff consulted with children from primary schools across the city, who submitted ideas for their ideal playground.
"[I want] a big blue swing with a large net that lots of people can fit on at the same time [and] if you fall off you fall onto cushions that smell like chocolate," one Farmborough Road Public School student wrote.
"[I would like] a world atlas with iconic features in 3D in a pitch black room where all the different information about different countries would light up ... Australia would have Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef," a Woonona East student said.
The council's property and recreation manager Peter Coyte said the strategy would benefit future generations.
"One of the underlying principles in this draft is that the natural landscape is highly important in the way it offers a unique setting for children to gain valuable life skills through play that activates and allows them to explore the five senses," he said.
Submissions on the play strategy can be made until April 30.