Jun 17 2011

Great Playgrounds we have been injured in

We were talking recently about the playground equipment of our youth – much of it undoubtably sponsored by the Australian Orthopaedic Association. My favourite was the Rocket at Dobroyd Point.


Dick West is the godfather of fancy playground equipment in Australia. In 1961 he acquired some plans from America and built a 30 foot high ‘Moon Rocket’ slippery dip, which was erected in Blackheath, Blue Mountains. It was so popular that over the next few years he built 37 more all over Australia – including Elizabeth, Mooree, Broken Hill, Taree and ‘our’ one at Dobroyd Point. Over the years Dick built a variety of interesting shaped play equipment including a stage coach, submarine, old woman’s shoe, elephant slippery dip, HMAS Endeavour, a space capsule, a Tiger Moth biplane, a vintage car and a dinosaur. A number of these were sponsored by the Blackheath Rotary and started life in the Rhododendron festival procession and then would be installed in the Blackheath Memorial Park. Go Dick!


Mike was pretty keen on the Maypole – a medieval looking set of chains and handles attached to a tall pole. If you wound one chain around and around the others, and then everyone ran out in a coordinated way, you could just about launch someone into space.


At the school  bus stop under the harbour bridge was a roundaabout. 20 boys sprinting clockwise could create much more centrifugal force than the Coney Island ride at nearby Luna Park.


It was a monkey bar like this that lead to my broken arm in 2nd class.


Trampolines are the greatest source of serious backyard injuries. Perhaps unfortuantely, they themselves are almost indestructible. This one is going strong at our house 16 years down the track.


These standard slippery dips had two weapons at their disposal. If the child didn’t fall off quickly, on a hot day they would invariably get 2nd degree burns. We could often get 15 kids per slide.


Swings were made of hard wood. Perfect when lined up in a row. Watch out innocent bystanders walking by.


Addendum: Cathy reminded me about the seesaw. The standard NSW issue had a fulcrum that could be moved, which meant you could balance with your little brother. Bad news for him, however. The favourite trick was to edge back on the seesaw until he was at the highest point, and then to slide off the back. A spine tingling crash to the ground would result. Sorry Damien!

What’s your favourite memory of playground equipment? And your greatest memory of the injuries it caused?


What I Learnt On 17th June in other years

8 Responses to “Great Playgrounds we have been injured in”

  1. Gil says:

    Tony, love the rocket ship. There used to be one in Indooroopilly in Brisbane near where I lived as a kid in the 1970s. It seemed like the highest place in the world at the top. Thanks for the post!

    • Simon says:

      I also loved that rocket at Indooroopilly in the 70s!!! would love to know if there’s a photo of it in the park, somewhere!

  2. Michelle Bourke says:

    No piece of equipment was any fun unless it could give you at least 2 stitches in the head! Maybe that’s why our parents loved introducing us to Pong and the Rubiks cube.

  3. Terry says:

    I loved the elephant at Swan Hill Caravan Park made out of steel pipes on a concrete base. In Victoria we called ‘slippery dips’ slides. Says it all. Down there in 40 degree Summers that lasted months it was extremely likely you could fry a bbq breakfast on one. Of course that was after you arrived in your parents car with bum burning vinyl seats.

  4. Kelly says:

    LOL. I had almost forgotten about the maypole in playgrounds but the photo jogged my memory. It is a memory of complete euphoria but terror at the same time, and you just hoped that the kids you were sharing the ride with had the same sense of self preservation as you did. No broken arms here when it comes to the Maypole but maybe some bruised heads (see-saw) and burnt bums (slippery dips). I still miss the Rocket at Kiama. As a child I longed for it at holiday time.

  5. Allan Wells says:

    Sadly Dick West passed away the other day; his funeral was held yesterday (2/02/2017) in Blackheath. Thousands upon thousands of children past and present (including myself, my children and my grandchildren) enjoyed letting their imaginations run wild on Dick’s playground creations at the Blackheath “Rocket Park” (Swimming Pool/Memorial Park). Thank you John Yeoman and Dick for your visioniary contributions to kids in Blackheath and beyond.

  6. Judah Russell says:

    in 1980 and 1981 I was living in Broken Hill I was only about 5 years old and I used to play it on the rocket clock slipery dip. I wonder if it is still there now?
    I would love to know

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *