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The Adventure Playground would be built entirely in the area under the fig tree, making full use of the shade this magnificent tree provides. This makes the most of the existing space and blends in with the iconic park.

It would feature an enchanted forest where children will discover larger than life creatures such as dragon flies, butterflies and cicadas; hidden tunnels and a lookout atop the larger than life green ant’s nest five-metres in the air.

The design incorporates something for a wide age group from toddlers through to tweenagers, and adults who are young at heart.

Cost of Project

Council has completed planning, consultation, final concept plans and technical specifications. The project is now shovel ready and Council is seeking grant funding as and when opportunities become available.

Project Updates

July, 2023

Council officers have lodged an EOI for federal funds available under the Growing Regions Program. EOIs are reviewed to determine how ready our project is to proceed, how well it meets the objectives of the program and how strongly our project aligns with the regional priorities for the area. A multi-party parliamentary panel makes recommendations as to what projects will proceed to a Full Application which are due to be lodged 1 November 2023. It is expected that the Growing Regions Program will be significantly over-subscribed.


The Australian Government announced on 24 October 2022 that the BBRF will be discontinued. Council officers are seeking alternative grant opportunities to secure funding to replace the playground.


Council endorsed  a grant application for the upgrade of the Rex Smeal Park playground. The Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) aims to create jobs, drive economic growth and build stronger regional communities into the future with grants of $20,000 to $10M.


There were 206 responses across Facebook and written submissions.  A total of 163 were in support and 43 not supportive.

Those 79% in support loved the design and loved the location incorporating the fig tree. It meant children could still have access to the tree to climb and the tree means the entire playground is in the shaded area. Others noted the area felt a bit run down and this new, modern playground was an excellent solution to give it the area a much-needed lift.

For the 21% who did not support the concept, Council took on board concerns and make several changes to the concept plan.

  • A few thought it didn’t fit with the natural environment so colours were toned down
  • Some said there was already a playground, not realising it was at the end of its useful life
  • Some, particularly those in the event industry, felt the land uses weren’t compatible, so there were several changes made to reduce the impacts.

Traditional owners thought it was a wonderful concept and requested a plaque on the site The Green Ant is known as Yangka in the local Kuku Yalanji language.  It is used by them as medicine.

The full report is shown here: Consultation Report

AUGUST, 2021

Concept Plans have been completed, and have now been published for comment.   Council officers have been working on a new recreational space with Simon Maher from Landplan in Cairns. Among other things, Simon designed the Centenary Lakes Nature Play near the Cairns Botanic Gardens and Fig Tree Adventure Playground.

Deadline for feedback: Friday 27 August 2021

Community Consultation

Feedback on the concept closed on Friday 27 August.

Additional Information

Rex Smeal Park is best known for its large shady fig trees, grassy green lawns (in the wet season), coconut fringed foreshore and ocean views. It is a space enjoyed by various groups ranging from community events, weddings, fitness groups, as well as it is a place where locals and visitors relax and take in the natural beauty of the Shire.

There has not been any significant investment in this park for some time, other than patches and fix ups.

  • The grass turns brown from around August and remains that way until the rains come
  • The park generally does not cater for all abilities access
  • The park is disconnected from the Port Douglas CBD area
  • The existing playground is in poor condition and offers limited play opportunities
  • The existing playground does not visually complement the space

The Green Ant Adventure Playground seeks to address the last two points.


If you have any questions, please call Gaye Scott, 4099 9414 or email

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