Go outside and play
IT’S ON YOUR DOORSTEP
Get a good, old-fashioned magnifying glass or lens and lie down on the ground. There’s another world down there. A world of sticky little sundew plants that eat meat — they dissolve and devour insects! A world of moss like a green forest. Of sandy patches that are deserts for ants.
Look down from Kings Park and map the river, or the top of the 15m-high DNA tower in Kings Park and see the park itself from above.
Do an alphabet: List things you see, A to Z, to see what shape your day takes. A = Ant, B = Bee, for example. It’s a good way, in 26 words, of seeing what’s around you on your day.
Journal: It is the ordinary that becomes extraordinary. What do I mean? It is the little things you notice and might forget that look extraordinary when you look back at your urban adventure.
And how do you do that? By jotting down all those details at the time, in a notebook or journal.
Enlist an expert: You might just have a great resource at your fingertips.
Many relatives have endless boring stories about what they did “when I was a kid” . . . but they were once kids, and these sort of adventures might be just what they got up to.
Ask them. It might be dad was an ace bush cubby maker. Maybe he needs to get adventuresome, too.
In six photos: Take photographs with a camera or phone and then — and most importantly — edit them down to six. Which images capture your urban adventure?
Learn three trees: Do you actually know the trees around you? A red gum, a tuart, a lemon-scented gum? Set your target on learning three trees.
Learn four knots: I can’t bring myself to throw away a bit of rope or string — and knowing a few useful knots is brilliant (in fact, I like tying knots just for the sake of practising them).
If I could learn four knots, what would they be? Well, these:
- Reef knot
- Sheet bend
- Rolling hitch
There are plenty of books and online tutorials — they are worth looking up before you venture out. Then take your bits of rope with you and practise tying them for real.
WHERE TO ADVENTURE
- Try two local parks you haven’t been to. My favourites for adventuring near Perth are by the Swan River — probably Point Resolution Reserve in Dalkeith is my absolute favourite. But there are lots of good parks — from Armadale Settlers Common to Point Walter Reserve in Attadale, from Lake Joondalup to Yokine Reserve and of course, in country areas.
- Rio Tinto Naturescape Kings Park is a good place to feel the vibes of the WA environment and explore, climb rocks and ropes, wade through creeks, build cubbies and get dirty. It’s like a bush experience in the city.
It’s not a playground but designed to be more natural, a bit more rough and tumble, and bring back challenge, adventure and connection to nature.
There are lookouts, a cubby building area, thickets, a creek and a wetland.
It’s open 9am to 4pm Tuesday to Sunday and admission is free. It is closed every Monday, the entire month of February, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Australia Day (January 26).
BACK TO NATURE
The benefits of getting outdoors and mucking around are about keeping healthy, connecting with where we live, taking calculated risks and building resilience.
A not-for-profit organisation called Nature Play WA, in partnership with the Department of Sport and Recreation, has been set up to encourage and help kids to get out and be adventurous.
Nature Play’s website (natureplaywa.org.au) has an activity finder with things to do, lists of places to go as a family, ways that a garden can be turned into a great outdoor play area and how to get a Nature Play passport.
Here are its suggestions of 15 things to do before you’re 12:
- Climb a tree.
- Build a cubbyhouse.
- Camp out under the stars
(even in your backyard).
- Invent a game that lasts three days.
- Learn to swim.
- Catch a wave (start with a small one).
- Play in a creek.
- Play in the bush.
- Visit a national park.
- Play in the rain.
- Catch a tadpole (and release it).
- Make a mud pie.
- Build a sandcastle city.
- Plant something and watch it grow.
- Learn to ride a bike.
What to take
It’s worth taking a backpack for your adventure, with:
- Pocket knife.
- Magnifying glass.
- Camera, if you have one.
- Notebook and pen (for rough maps, notes, lists).
- Small plastic bags for “finds”.
- A piece of rope (always useful).
- Water bottle and snacks.
THE BIG OUTDOORS
Edward “Bear” Grylls, is the international face of outdoor adventure. You may have seen his television program, Man vs Wild.
If there’s one thing he’s tried to live by, it’s to try to get the most out of life.
Bear says: “At 23, I was lucky to become one of the youngest climbers to scale Everest, which had been my childhood dream since my father gave me a photo of Everest when I was eight. Now I have three young sons, I always try to encourage them to follow their dreams and look after their friends along the way. We live in an age of Xboxes and TV on demand. But there is so much more to life.”
Grassy knees and sandy feet should all still be part of growing up. So, Bear teamed up with UK washing powder manufacturer Persil to promote urban adventure for kids — and a list of things to do before you’re 10. Bear adds: “But you don’t really need to be under 10 to enjoy them. I’m 38 and I couldn’t think of a happier week than testing out all of these!”
Some of the activities are:
1. HILL ROLLING
Bear says: “Rolling down a hill is an art form — and a great way to race your friends. If you roll sideways, remember you need to have your arms out straight to steer; or you’ll end up going around in circles. If you roll head-over-heels, be sure to curl into as tiny ball as possible and cushion the back of your neck with your hands.
“Why roll one at a time when you can do a double roll with a friend? Try sitting in each other’s lap and forming a ball. Or a triple roll with two friends. Remember to have an adult with you to help you look where you’re going, and prepare to feel dizzy at the end.”
2.HIDE AND SEEK
Bear says: “Survival is all about adapting to your environment and fitting in with your surroundings. It’s not just about getting back to nature, it’s also about looking like you’re part of nature. So next time you play hide-and-seek, don’t just hide there. Get involved! It’s amazing how easy it is to spot a human face — even from a long distance. A few streaks of mud on your face will make you a lot harder to find. “Try sticking some twigs and leaves in your pockets too to break up your shape.
“The more you break up the human shape the better. Don’t camouflage too well or your parents may never find you! Stay close to them to be safe.”
3. BUILD A DEN OR CUBBY
You will need two trees, rope, rocks/logs, bags, torch.
Bear says: “You’ll need to find some flat ground — and make sure it’s dry — if it’s wet you will get cold very quickly. First find two trees about four wide steps apart and tie a piece of rope between them. “Cover the ground of your den with something waterproof (like a ground sheet), then get a sheet from indoors and throw it over the rope to create your roof. Put some rocks or logs on each corner to stop it blowing away.
“Take in your sleeping bags, a torch, and there you have it — your very own outdoor den.”
4. BUILD A ROPE SWING
You will need rope, twine/string, padlock.
Bear says: “With the help of an adult, tie a buntline hitch knot (look it up) to the end of some rope, then hook something small but heavy like a padlock through the knot and throw the weight over the best swinging branch you can find. Slip the rope through the hitch knot and pull until the rope is secured.
“Tie a small log for a seat with a double constrictor knot. Get an adult to ensure the knot is super secure and hey presto — one swinging rope swing.”
5. TRY COUNTING THE STARS
Bear says: “Counting the stars might seem as impossible as trying to count all the cornflakes in a box of cereal. You can actually see about 2000 stars on a clear night, grouped into different constellations.
“Even I’d have a hard time trying to remember them all. But if someone in your family has a smartphone, get them to download the free Google Sky app.
“With a family member for company, venture outside. Point the phone at the sky on a clear night and your guided tour will begin; make sure your parents know where you are, even if it’s your garden.”
© The West Australian
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