By WENDY HUNT

Mansfield Courier - - ALIVE -

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.

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