Getting our kids outdoors

Nature Play Spaces

Make the most of the natural features in your service or space to bring the limitless benefits of nature play to life.

On this page

Awareness of the benefits of children’s contact with nature is growing

These benefits include:

  • Developing strong connections with nature
  • Engaging and enchanting children in outdoor play for longer periods of time
  • Improving overall wellbeing
  • Developing physical literacy
  • Keeping children physically and mentally active
  • Increasing resilience
  • Building risk assessment awareness
  • Growing social and emotional capacities
  • Enabling problem solving skills to develop

Many organisations are embracing the idea of developing nature play spaces within their setting.
This could be in a local park, school grounds, church grounds, early childhood centre or a kindy, sports club or community centre.

Appropriate planning helps create cohesive and connected communities that support children’s outdoor free play and independent mobility, and contribute to the physical and psychological health of neighbourhoods. Good design enables safe movement through and between areas and provides varied spaces to gather, walk and play in.

We understand it can be hard to know where to start, particularly with the internet full of so many great ideas. Nature Play QLD would like to help you take the first step, or help move your ideas forwards. On this website are resources for you to access and, from time to time, workshops to help you develop nature play spaces that are stimulating and inspiring.

Nature Play Spaces Consultancy Service

Nature Play QLD now works in partnership with a number of Queensland Landscape Architects and Designers to deliver the Nature Play Spaces Consultancy Service to clients and help create their vision for vibrant nature-based play spaces.

Depending on where you are at with your project you can choose between the Starting Out Project Plan or the Concept Drawing Phase. Over time you may need to do both. Outlined below are what’s included and what is not for the Starting Out Project Plan and the Concept Drawing Phase. Please read through both and find which one will be suitable for your location.

If you are unsure, please ‘Contact us‘ and we can help you through the process.

Starting Out Project Plan

A project plan can be used to communicate your ideas to key stakeholders, funders, or contractors and determine the extent and feasibility of your ideas.

What’s included?

  • A one hour visit from the Consultant to discuss your project
  • Or a one-hour video chat if you are in a remote location
  • A written project plan by the Consultant with ideas and process recommendations on how to undertake your project
  • There are NO drawings done with this plan.
  • A series of inspirational photos appropriate to your project
  • Travel time and expenses
  • Nature Play QLD does not take any commission from any of the consultants

Consultancy Fee

Negotiated with the Consultant

You will be invoiced by the Consultant directly

Concept (basic) Drawing Phase

A concept drawing provides you with a visual representation of what your project looks like. It can be used to communicate your ideas to key stakeholders, funders and contractors. It is beneficial to have undertaken some project planning before a concept plan is drawn.

What’s included?

  • The Consultant/s to provide you with a quote/s to undertake the concept drawing phase of your project. Costs estimates of the project can also be requested at time of seeking quotes
  • Contract between the Consultant and the Client to undertake the drawings and specifications. Nature Play QLD is not involved in the contract, quotation or invoicing of this service
  • The Consultant will undertake a site inspection and information gathering from you as the Client
  • Consultation with others such as students and teachers can be considered as additional to the normal scope of service
  • A concept plan will be prepared and include typical images and/or simple sketches to illustrate the outcomes
  • Either meet / telephone / video conference presentation of plan / feedback of concept
  • The fee includes their travel time and expenses
  • Consultancy Fee
  • You will need to obtain a quote from the Consultant for the Concept Drawing Phase as each project will be a different scale and level of complexity.
  • Typically, you could expect to pay between $4,000 and $6,000 for this service

Consultancy Fee

  • You will need to obtain a quote from the Consultant for the Concept Drawing Phase as each project will be a different scale and level of complexity.
  • Typically, you could expect to pay between $4,000 and $6000 for this service

Booking Process

  • You can email the Consultant directly to obtain a quote for your project. Please find the emails of the Nature Play partner Consultants below.
  • Alternatively you can make an enquiry by email to
  • You will receive a response to your enquiry via email with the contact details of a recommended Consultant.

Nature Play Spaces Consultant Principles

Consultants have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to operate under these principles:

  • The service advocates for unstructured outdoor play in natural environments.
  • The service meets with clients to help them understand the play needs of children and families and the nature play potential of a site.
  • Play with nature, not just in nature.
  • Nature play does not necessarily require any built infrastructure.
  • Close interaction with a natural or semi-natural environment is essential.
  • Outdoor nature play is on a spectrum from bushland emersion through to designed and constructed adventure playgrounds.
  • Trust in the inherent play value of nature.
  • Often the best nature play spaces already exist in the landscape and just need to be recognised and made accessible and safe for play.
  • Loose parts play is at the heart of nature play.
  • Nature play is about children falling in love with nature.
  • Child led play is essential to meaningful play experiences in nature.
  • The benefits of risk and challenging play outweigh the risk of not including them in a design or making them accessible in the landscape.
  • Maintenance is always a consideration but it should be accepted that natural materials break down over time.
  • Not all nature play spaces need to cost money to provide.
  • Outdoor classrooms can be anywhere and don’t need to in a specific space however yarning circles help structure the learning process.

Our Consultants

Debbie Laporte

Director | Registered Landscape Architect

Debbie is a registered landscape architect who is passionate about design and how outdoor spaces can change, influence, and inspire people.

Over the past 15 years, Debbie has worked in Australia and the UK. Before establishing Orterra, a landscape architecture design firm, Debbie worked in both the private and public sectors. It was while working in the UK that Debbie became inspired by nature play and its benefits. Since then, play has been a focus in her career and she has completed a variety of play and nature play projects.

Debbie has a passion for teaching and is a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology in Landscape Architecture.

Debbie's philosophy is that it is only through collaboration, thought, and innovation that we will be able to rethink how we experience and use our environment.

Orterra specialises in helping schools achieve their open space goals. Queensland has the perfect climate for teaching outdoors. COVID has given many schools the push to create more opportunities for this to happen. However, the why and the how can be difficult questions to answer. Orterra aims to facilitate and help schools find answers and then assist in creating these spaces. Contact us today for you free 15 min chat about how we can best help your school.

See flyer for more information:


TVLA Design

"Hi, I am Tobias Volbert, a landscape architect and passionate advocate for creating engaging, sensory places that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age or ability."

Tobias's passion and drive for inclusive design beyond accessibility has seen him become an expert in this field. In 2013, Tobias co-founded the 7 Senses Foundation and has since been invited to many industry events promoting the topic of creating environments suitable for people of all ages and abilities.

The 7 Senses Day is an annual event that transforms residential streets into fun temporary community spaces that engage our 7 senses and improve our daily environment. 7 Senses Day events are organised by active community members who believe that a 7 Senses approach would enhance their street environment and improve their local community.

Tobias Volbert is a Registered Landscape Architect, with over 10 years experience in designing and creating engaging play environments for communities and schools. He is an active member of Play Australia, Parks and Leisure Australia, Urban Design Alliance of Queensland as well as guest lecture at QUT.

Born and educated in Germany, Tobias has called Australia home since 2007 and has a strong understanding of South East Queensland landscapes.

As a landscape architect, Tobias is now excited by the opportunity to meet with you to explore and explain the process of creating engaging, meaningful places in your school.

Scott Alston

Managing Director | MAK Planning and Design Pty Ltd


Scott Alston is the Managing Director of MAK Planning and Design, a company that specialises in open space, recreation and sport planning. Scott has over 30 years experience in the industry with more than 20 of those in private practice.

Master planning of parks and playgrounds is a strong focus of MAK Planning and Design. In recent years nature play has been encouraged through their designs in recognition of the increased value children derive from this play compared to traditional playgrounds, not to mention the extra enjoyment that they obviously derive.

Scott is passionate about assisting organisations to implement nature play solutions no matter the size of your project or the resources available. There is a solution for every site and every budget and he would be delighted to assist you in realising your vision.

Darling Downs and South West QLD


Director | Registered Landscape Architect | Greenedge Design Consultants B.A (Hons) LArch | Post GradDip Larch | Comprehensive Playground Inspector (Certified to Level 3) Committee Member, Learning Environments Australasia, Queensland

Growing up in rural England, Greg’s play experiences as a child were focused around nature play. His teenage years spent building rafts and tree houses using natural materials influenced his career direction as a landscape architect. He started Greenedge Design on the Sunshine Coast in 2014 to develop his passion for designing thoughtful, imaginative and beneficial play spaces, many of these have been recognised with award accolades. He is a member of Play Australia, Parks and Leisure Australia and Learning Environments Australasia. He is actively involved in Learning Environments Australasia, where he is influencing and raising awareness of the benefits of outdoor play and learning spaces in schools that foster student well-being - and creating opportunities for students to be more active.​

Facebook: Greenedge Design Consultants | Instagram: @greenedgedesign


Registered Landscape Architect | Landplan

Simon is a registered landscape architect who lives and works in a small piece of paradise in Far North Queensland called Cairns. He has spent the last 20 years working throughout North Queensland on projects big and small, for both private and public clients.

He cut his teeth as a designer in local government before spending ten years leading a team for a multidisciplinary development consultancy. He has recently embraced the new challenge of establishing his own small design practice, Landplan Landscape Architecture.

Simon’s experience includes working in remote communities throughout Cape York and the Torres Strait and has worked extensively on projects from streetscape, open space planning and urban design to project managing large commercial landscape projects for the private sector such as parklands, and residential estates.

He is an advocate for the nature play movement and has had recent success in the implementation of a number these play spaces in local schools and the public realm.


Director Insite EM LA

Rob has a Bachelor degree in Applied Science majoring in Ecology and nearly thirty years of experience in open space planning, design, development and management. Over this time he has been instrumental in the delivery of numerous quality open space projects in both the natural and built environments.

Rob’s experience in balancing the complexities of natural resource and open space management issues with stakeholder demands is extensive. He also has extensive community consultation experience and communication skills, along with extensive knowledge of the State and Local Government environments.

Rob has been a member of Parks and Leisure Australia, the peak body servicing the parks and leisure management industries, for over 20 years and was awarded the position of Fellow in the organisation in 2000.

Annalise Gibbons is the Project Landscape Designer. Annalise is a qualified Landscape Architect who graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Built Environment majoring in Landscape Architecture at Queensland University of Technology.

With over 22 years of experience in the landscape industry, Annalise has established a comprehensive landscape design portfolio, encompassing residential, commercial and industrial environments.


Nature Play Spaces Materials Fact Sheets Complete Pack

A resource outlining the different materials you can use for nature play based on your area, and how to implement them. Compiled by Andy Belcher, Nature Play Spaces Landscape Architect.

Nature Play Spaces Plant Schedule

A list of trees, plants, and shrubs that make for a great nature play space if you are looking to set up your own space. Compiled by Andy Belcher, Nature Play Spaces Graduate Landscape Architect.