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In Praise of our parks, especially during quarantine

During the lock-down, the only outlet for many, possibly most people, has been a daily walk in the local park. These areas became, and still are, life savers for a population denied their normal physical and sporting outlets. The following letter was sent to The Age letters editor on April 29th but not published. It appears on the Protectors of Public Lands Face Book page.

The current health crisis in Australia as observed in Victoria has highlighted the essential nature of our parks and gardens for the health of our population, both physical and psychological. Melbourne's forefathers, particularly Governor La Trobe who gave us Royal Park had great vision in setting aside open space for nature and recreation, accessible to all.

It must be emphasised that it is the uncluttered open areas and nature which are of vital benefit to us with the current restrictions. All installed equipment such as playground, sporting and exercise equipment has been taped off and is out of bounds.

Moving through various parks at different times of the day in the last few weeks it can be seen that the space available in Melbourne for the present population is absolutely minimal to requirements. It is not possible to walk in many parks without coming too close to another person. Paths are full of pedestrian and in some cases cycle traffic. Joggers run past walkers almost physically coming in contact when in fact a greater distance is required when you are exercising more vigorously!

It is clear that our parks are at capacity. In normal times, there will not be the same heavy usage of these areas as people are at work, exercising in gyms or playing other sports but now that we have a crisis , our gratitude must go to people from the century before last and to those who in the meantime have defended these territories for our universal benefit.

Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria hopes that from now these areas will be even more highly valued by all authorities and that formal approaches to their responsibilities will in future more fully reflect this.

Jill Quirk
Protectors of Public Lands, Victoria
P.O. Box 197 Parkville 3152