Footscray Park spaces to reopen


Maribyrnong council hopes to reopen two sections of Footscray Park to the public in October, after the spaces were fenced off following the drowning of two toddlers in two separate incidents in 2021.

In July 2021, a three-year-old girl died after drowning in a pond at the Thomson Water Gardens.

In December that same year, a two-year-old drowned in the same pond.

Council closed the Thomson Water Gardens and removed water from the pond in December 2021 following the second drowning.

The playspace was damaged in the October 2022 Maribyrnong flood, resulting in it being closed to the public.

A report to council in December 2023, following a September 2023 coroner’s report into the drawings, stated that the playground and its proximity to the pond had been recognised as a potential risk to unsupervised children.

“Whilst the playground is entirely fenced, it has been designed in an integrated manner so families can enjoy the entire park space,” the report stated.

“Even with implementing future risk mitigations, there remains an inherent risk to public safety noting the close proximity of the playground to the ponds, and the high volume of participation attracted to this location on a weekly basis.

“ With this in mind officers consider the ponds and the playspace now need to be separated to mitigate risk associated with water hazard recognition.”

At council meeting on June 18 this year, officers informed councillors that the future location of the playspace will be determined by the Footscray Park masterplan, to be completed in 2025.

In the meantime, the play equipment will be dismantled and retained, while the site will be leveled and grassed, with mature trees to be retained.

The report said council was also working to restore the water gardens, in line with recommendations from the coroner.

Councillor Simon Crawford said council wanted to keep the community updated on its plans for the park, noting that there have been “some really terrible things that have happened at that space”.