Fair Dinkum: Park Ingenuity

Fair Dinkum: Aussie slang that means true, real, genuine.

In 1998, I lived in Tasmania, Australia as an exchange student. I was 14. During my year abroad, I went on a two-week trip with 30 other exchange students through the center of Australia to Uluru (the big monolith). We drove and camped during our tour through the Outback.

On this trip, one of the tour leaders was an emerging videographer—in 1988—and hauled with him a VHS cam recorder. You know, the gigantic boom box sized recorder that was all the 80’s rage. This tour leader edited over four hours of foreign teenagers being, well, teenagers on a once-in-life time adventure.

At the time, a $100 was a lot to purchase the VHS Australian tour tapes, and then more money in the early 1990’s to convert the tapes to U.S.VHS.

For 27 years, the tapes collected dust in some drawer, in the basement, at my parents. Earlier this year, I blew off the dust and converted these tour tapes to DVD.

Oh the memories.

I’ll spare you all of them except one—the crazy playground. I never forgot this playground because the “equipment” was not your normal park equipment. For 27 years, I could not remember the name or the location of the park, until this past weekend.

Last Saturday, my husband and I joined Robin Boyle, my  Wayne State University urban planning professor, on a lovely dinner party to welcome his guest visiting from Melbourne, Australia. Rod is a retired Aussie city planner.

Naturally, I asked Rod about my memories playing in this park, and then came home to convert the former VHS to DVD to Youtube video. Here is the brief info I assembled from Rod and the Googles:

Seagull Paddock, Geelong, Adelaide, Australia

In the 1980’s, the Ford Motor plant, located across from Deppler Park or Seagull Paddock, had financial troubles and laid off workers. Including welders.

The newly unemployed welders used their welding skills to create play equipment—or rides, whatever you think they are. The park location seems a natural fit for former workers to display their skills, directly across from the auto manufacturing plant in Deppeler Park. It’s clear safety standards were an afterthought, and probably why the park equipment was eventually removed in the early 1990’s.

deppler park

Also known as Weir Deppeler Park

seagull paddock

Seagull Paddock, www.geelongaustralia.com.au

I’m curious how local folks came to erect structures of this magnitude in a public park and with clear safety issues. Nonetheless, the park was impressionable for any visitor climbing or riding on a play structure and clearly attracted tour groups to explore the park, like ours.  Great parks attract people!

Check out the metal arts creativity and innovation:

(sorry, the video quality is a bit fuzzy. She’ll be right, mate) I’m in the video, albeit briefly and you cannot see my face.

Another unemployed welder, turned metal artist and made a outdoor park museum for all to enjoy: visit Lakenland in Marquette, Michigan. It’s a nice time to visit during the Fall colors. Never underestimate the artistic skills of a welder!


Art in Lakenland. Piana 2012.

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