13 December 2020

Hope springs eternal with inclusive additions to Queanbeyan playground

| Michael Weaver
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Tim Overall and John Barillaro with the family of Hope Marland

Tim Overall and John Barilaro with the family of Hope Marland, daughter Jillian, great-grandchildren Holly and Hunter, and granddaughter Melanie at Hope Marland Park. Photo: Michael Weaver.

An icon of Queanbeyan who was a champion for an inclusive community now has a new all-inclusive playground at Queanbeyan West that will continue to carry her legacy.

Hope Marland Park has been a mainstay for Queanbeyan families for generations and three generations of her family gathered this week to unveil the upgraded park that now features safe and fun play areas for children of all ages and abilities.

Hope Marland was a Queanbeyan councillor for 30 years, including a stint as deputy mayor before retiring in 1995. She became the first female president of the NSW Local Government Association in 1984 and was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia Medal (AM) in 1988.

Revered by many, current Queanbeyan-Palerang mayor Tim Overall called her Queanbeyan’s Margaret Thatcher.

“I first met Hope more than 20 years ago,” Cr Overall said. “Hope was a great mentor to me and would tell me how things were on many occasions. She was a great supporter of the community in setting up and running the Karabar Cooperative Housing Association to assist low-income families in the community to find housing.

“With many of Hope’s family here today, it is a further honour to officially open this most recent upgrade of the playground.”

Hope Marland with her husband Ken

Hope Marland with her husband Ken. Photo: Karabar Housing Cooperative.

Hope died in 2014, aged 91. The park was named in her honour in 1996 but had become outdated. It has now been refurbished with new all-inclusive play equipment thanks to a $144,500 grant from the NSW Government’s Everyone Can Play program, matched dollar-for-dollar by the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.

Hope’s daughter Jillian, one of her seven grandchildren Melanie, and two of her 10 great-grandchildren Holly and Hunter were on hand to reopen the park which had been closed since September.

“My mother was a unique person,” Jillian said. “She was always very busy and always out helping so many people in the town.

“She used to spend a lot of time with her grandchildren and at this park, when she could.

“We used to come here and have picnics quite often with all the grandchildren. It’s a wonderful place to come and remember mum and she would have loved seeing what’s been done now.”

Member for Monaro John Barillaro cuts the ribbon for the refurbished park with Hope Marland's daughter Jillian.

Member for Monaro John Barilaro cuts the ribbon for the refurbished park with Hope Marland’s daughter Jillian. Photo: Michael Weaver.

Member for Monaro John Barilaro said the new park was a fitting tribute to a local icon and had already been given the tick of approval by his daughter Sofia.

“It is wonderful to see the finished product in this beautiful part of Queanbeyan,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This playground has been completely transformed, and children of all abilities are now able to enjoy some of the very best play equipment available, including a new nest swing, climbing equipment and even a mini play town, which I know will be a favourite among the kids.”

The new-look equipment at Hope Marland Park paves the way for similar upgrades to parks in the region.

Two centrepieces of our local region, Queanbeyan Park and Queen Elizabeth II Park, have again been recognised among the best-managed parks in the world after both were reaccredited with prestigious international Green Flag awards.

“There are only nine parks across Australia that have received Green Flag Awards, and to have two of them right here in Queanbeyan is a testament to the dedicated staff who look after these magnificent parks,” Mayor Overall said.

Original Article published by Michael Weaver on The RiotACT.

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