Freshie's Newest Childcare Haven Reveals Unique Design

18 Mar 2020

Stage 1 construction of the new intergenerational Harbord Diggers venue is making headway and the childcare operators for its long day care centre, Explore & Develop Freshwater has received handover this week, in order to commence the fit out of its architecturally designed interiors and outdoor spaces.

The new childcare facility at the Diggers, expected to open in March 2018, is a purpose built, 90-place childhood education and care service, privately owned and operated by a local Northern Beaches family under the trusted brand of Explore & Develop.

Local mother of three Sally Liebke, is the owner and operator of the new childcare facility and has been integral in the planning and design of the centre that focuses on sustainability, practicality and synergy with the larger Diggers precinct.

“Our aim was to provide a very natural, light-filled home-like environment and we will have a very neutral colour palette for Explore & Develop Freshwater, which has been purposefully choice based on my experience in the childcare sector working with children who have sensory processing disorder or varying behavioural challenges,” explained Sally.

“Working in the Early Childhood industry for more than 16 years I have worked in rooms that are filled with colour and items hanging from the walls and ceiling and it can be a daunting environment for children with sensory processing or the like, making them feel overwhelmed or triggering uncertainty in their environment.

“Working closely with our internal architect Sarah Blacker and our landscape architects The Garden Makers, our aim has been to create a home-like environment for the children, educators and families, one that provides natural elements and a sense of calmness to ensure a comfortable space that is not overstimulating for the children or staff for that matter,” continued Sally.

Another main focus for the design of Explore & Develop Freshwater has been collaborating with Australian companies to utilise local products and implement sustainable practices.

“It was important to me as a local and a mum to source locally, use fair trade and recyclable products, implement efficient features and utilise sustainable materials wherever possible, and for us our sustainability plan started well before now – it started right back when we sourced our first batch of eco toys,” said Sally.

“We will be using local meat, fruit and vegetable suppliers for our nutritious seasonal menu to be prepared on site by an experienced early childhood cook and have also used a number of Australian companies to source toxin free, eco-friendly products such as Baby Quoddle bottles, Bedheads bedding, Bobo & Boo bamboo dinnerware and recycled jute rugs,” she added.

Working with one of the Northern Beaches’ leading landscape architects, the Garden Makers, Explore & Develop Freshwater has planned an incredible design for the centre’s natural outdoor learning environments to suit the ages and stages of the children on each level and promote learning and development through play.

“Our outdoor playscape areas will use natural elements, abundant planting and timber to develop natural climbing challenges that encourage risky play and challenge gross motor and problem solving skills of children of all ages and development.

“Our outdoor play areas, across two levels, will include sandstone to complement the exterior of the Harbord Diggers site, timber boardwalks, log challenges and rock climbs, lots of trees and planting, as well as various sensory and grass areas to provide a unique space for children to learn, play and explore,” said Sally.

Precinct builders Ganellen have now handed over the completed Explore & Develop Freshwater building to allow the internal fitout and external playgrounds to be completed for a March 2018 opening.

“We were really excited to get the building handover this week and are now looking forward to seeing the interior and exterior spaces come to life over the coming months. It has been a three year journey to this point and we are absolutely delighted to be opening the doors next year,” added Sally.

Explore & Develop Freshwater will be an all-inclusive childcare service offering families with an extended hour preschool and long day care centre for children from six weeks to six years of age.

Places are limited for 2018 enrolments, for more information on Explore & Develop Freshwater visit

For more information on the new Harbord Diggers project visit

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