By WENDY HUNT
MANSFIELD is blessed with its mountains, rivers and lakes, but it is also the home of the Botanic Park, a short stroll from the centre of town.
For locals and visitors alike, the park offers a variety of experiences and amenities, not least of which is its designation as a leash free area for dogs.
Because of this, there are always dogs to be found there, chasing balls and generally socialising, as do their owners - friendships grow, where the owners are known to each other as ‘Rover’s Mum’ or ‘Spot’s Dad’, rather than by their own names.
The park is well provided with doggy drinking bowls and dog litter bags, to enhance the experience all round.
The tracks that meander through the park are put to constant use by cyclists, walkers and horse riders and for those inclined to more strenuous exercise, joggers can run the paths and then tone their muscles on the fitness station provided.
An adventure playground is always popular with the kids and families can picnic on the grass, in the sheltered barbecue area or at the other tables provided.
The park has beautiful benches for a rest and to contemplate the magnificent gardens which continue to expand under the watchful eye of the Mansfield council’s outdoor staff.
One initiative that is set to expand is the veggie gardens - already in place are four raised beds where for some years strawberries, potatoes, zucchini, herbs, pumpkins, shallots and other seasonal delights have been there for the community to pick and eat.
There are now plans afoot to create a medicinal edible indigenous garden, with the council working with the Gadhaba Local Indigenous Network (GLIN) to complete the project, hopefully in the 2018/2019 financial year.
The park is also an asset for the schools and other organisations of the town - fun days, sports days, fitness classes, parties, even weddings (make sure you get a permit).
Drive by the Botanic Park at almost any time of the day and you will see how much the town uses their park - there will always be two legged and four legged fans enjoying this amazing space.
FOR THE KIDS: Kangaroos, kookaburras, bridges, tunnels, as well as swings and slides, will keep the kids occupied for hours.
FOOD FOR THE SOUL: The beautiful gardens provide stunning vistas of nature at its best.