Client: Indigo Shire Council
Timing: Apr 2021 – Dec 2021
Surface Type: Acrylic and Synthetic Grass

The 2022 National Award-Winning project Wahgunyah Recreation Reserve has transformed a community, reignited sporting participation for an aging population and become the benchmark for inclusive facilities in regional Victoria.

Wahgunyah Recreation Reserve has been transformed into one of the most inclusive and accessible regional multisport facilities in Victoria. As part of the design and construction process, special consideration was given to delivering accessible and inclusive facilities that would ensure all participants and spectators were able access, use and depart the entire facility easily and safely.

As such, the facility now features wider walkways and entry gates to allow for ease of mobility and disabled access to all ablution facilities. Spectator seating, player shelters and picnic tables all now offer designated wheelchair access along with uniquely designed water fountains that are accessible for all abilities.

A comprehensive lighting upgrade was carried out with an advanced LED system installed that not only creates reduced spill lighting at night and optimal competition lighting, but also features lower control panels for wheelchair users. The system also incorporates a relay switch for delayed blackout and can also be operated remotely via an app.

With inclusiveness at the heart of this project, Wahgunyah Recreation Reserve now offers full wheelchair friendly facilities that will benefit both participants and spectators alike, whilst also meeting the court requirements of Tennis and Netball Victoria.

With every aspect of the user’s experience considered as part of the design and construction process, this project has become an exceptional case study that supports the increased awareness and activation of inclusive sports facility design. From pathways to width of gates, drink fountains, surfacing, lighting, shelters, seating and picnic tables, this project reflects the opportunities and tangible benefits from creating a truly inclusive facility that enables improved participation and recreation.

The rationale for the redevelopment

A major driver of the inclusive design and construction aspect was the increasing aging population and migration of young families to the area. The elderly required a safe and inclusive facility that provided easy access and suitable sports surfaces that were gentle on their joints and suitable for slower paced recreation.

Furthermore, the desire to increase social and structured tennis and netball for young families and their children was inhibited due to the original hazardous and deteriorated surfaces. An inclusive facility would cater to all persons and was anticipated to help increase physical activity across the region, of which it has done exceedingly well.

Facility outcomes post construction

  • A significant increase in player registrations for the Wahgunyah Tennis Club, which started out with only 4 – 5 sides, and has since grown to 8 – 10 sides.
  • Wahgunyah Primary School has been able to extend their school sports programs to now include regular use of the courts.
  • Social tennis has spiked with elderly members of the community now enjoying tennis on the synthetic grass courts which provide a slower pace and more gentle impact on joints.
  • The Recreation Reserve Committee is now able to expand its offering and introduce a mixed mid-week tournament which is something they had always wanted to do but couldn’t.
  • Membership registrations have increased at the Wahgunyah Football Netball Club with netball activation steadily increasing and now attracting additional participation from the NSW border town of Corowa.
  • Access between the courts and the club house is now safe and no longer requires members to travel across uneven grass / rocks, so more of the aging population have started using the courts for recreational purposes. This includes accessible paths to all facilities for wheelchair users.

Funding for the site came after several years of campaigning for new courts. The Victorian Government’s Community Sports Infrastructure Program provided a grant of $1.09M in conjunction with Council’s contribution of $121,318 to help fund the transformation of this facility.

iDwala is proud to be the recipient of two national sports industry awards for works associated with Wahgunyah Recreation Reserve.

iDwala was the successful winner of the 2022 National Sport, Recreation and Play Industry Innovation Awards for the Sports Surfacing Category, announced at the National Sports Convention Oration at the MCEC in July 2022. Following on from this success, iDwala received the 2022 SAPIA award for Facility Design. A true testament to the wonderful outcome achieved for this regional sports facility and a credit to all stakeholders involved with this project.