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Fairy doors help kids connect with nature

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Mack Tyler, 5, Lachlan Watt, 8, Nash, 8, and Ned Tyler, 6, and Mikayla Watt, 6, searched every tree in the park for fairy doors.
Camera IconMack Tyler, 5, Lachlan Watt, 8, Nash, 8, and Ned Tyler, 6, and Mikayla Watt, 6, searched every tree in the park for fairy doors. Credit: Edward Scown

Portals to the fae realm have captured the imagination of kids exploring the Chapman River, but they’ve also captured the attention of the City.

Kerryn Belli and husband Dean worked with local volunteers to make and decorate fairy doors, placing them on trees along the Chapman River trail, inspired by a similar trail on the Denmark River.

“It was a really good experience,” Ms Belli said.

“I thought it’d be nice to bring something like that to Geraldton.”

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Bernie Davidson, 6, was absolutely enthralled with the magical doors.
Camera IconBernie Davidson, 6, was absolutely enthralled with the magical doors. Credit: Edward Scown

Ms Belli has been walking the trail, often with husband and kids in tow, since she moved to town in 1986. Disappointed with the amount of rubbish often found near the river, she thought the doors would be just the trick to make the community more aware of the environment.

“I met a few kids there and explained to them that the fairies like it if it’s clean, and these two girls just took off into the bush and started picking up rubbish — they were so enthusiastic,” she said.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen the trail clean.”

The doors were put together by Bill Pike from the Geraldton Menshed, and decorated by Ms Belli’s friends before being hidden among the trees and rocks on the trail.

“The ones in Denmark are nice, but they’re all the same, just different colours,” Ms Belli said. “I thought if there’s more people, we’ll get more variety.”

Usually fairies like to stay hidden, but this one popped out to say hello.
Camera IconUsually fairies like to stay hidden, but this one popped out to say hello. Credit: Edward Scown

However, it’s not quite as simple as just putting the doors up.

The City of Greater Geraldton’s environment and sustainability team has requested that the doors be removed from living trees, and instead placed on rocks, dead logs and manmade objects to avoid damaging the native flora.

Ms Belli has also been contacted by an indigenous community leader who said one of the trees which had a door fixed to it was considered sacred.

“There are guidelines which we should have met. The City said our intentions are good, but it’s not that simple,” Ms Belli said.

The doors will remain scattered throughout Spalding Park, but have had to be removed from the river trail. Ms Belli said she had been working with the City on an additional set of doors with an educational spin, displaying information about native plants for children to discover.

“There’s a sense of magic and joy for them,” she said. “These days, we have to have something that gets them out into nature.”

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