Springwood Lot Party: Transforming an Underused Space Into a Vibrant Community Event

Springwood Lot Party

Mandy Schoene-Salter guiding a participant at the Street Art Wall

Story and photos by Tamsyn McGrouther

An overcast Sunday evening at Springwood parking lot doesn’t usually evoke community connection. Usually the lot is a dull underused space and the staff parking area gates are closed. This wasn’t true for the last Sunday of March when the car park at Springwood Train Station was transformed into a vibrant community space with food stalls, art opportunities and live music.

Key Points:

  • Springwood Lot Party was held on Sunday the 24th of March at Springwood Station parking lot, hosted by Blue Mountains City Council.
  • This community-focused event was entertaining for people of all ages, encouraging creativity, the arts, and connection.
  • The success of this event will hopefully encourage more community events down the line.

At the Zine space

I talked to Estee Sarsfield, a designer and Blue Mountain Zine Club member who was facilitating the Zine space stall. She taught me that Zine was pronounced ‘Zeen’ like magazine, not Zine, rhyming with line.

Their Zine making tent offered participants the opportunity and guidance to make their own Zines. They have a club once a month at Good Earth Bookshop in Wentworth Falls: an informal gathering where they chat, draw and create.

The stall was filled with people of all ages: glueing, cutting, sticking, stamping, sketching, collaging and painting – creating the chaotic multi-medium artistry that Zines are known for.

Zine stall at Springwood lot party

The Zine space, facilitated by Blue Mountains Zine Club

Finding out more about MYST

In the tent next door was Blue Mountains MYST (Mountains Youth Services Team), a youth-driven service for people aged 12-24. MYST provides free individualised support for young people in the form of youth centres, counselling and a plethora of other support services such as free internet for students and free driving lessons. At the Lot Party they were offering badge making, lollipops and a chat.

Badge making and art workshops hosted by MYST

I talked to Paige Thurlow-Want who explained how MYST is a ‘soft contact service’ that aims to be as accessible and non-judgemental as possible, as it can be an extremely daunting and vulnerable experience to seek support as a young person.

Paige explained how MYST is more than just young people and mental health (my previous conception). ‘We meet young people where they are’ she explains, semi-shouting over the music, ‘and get them where they want to be’.

Beyond mental health support, MYST provides:

  • Queer drop-in sessions for LGBTQ+ young people
  • Outdoor explore social groups
  • A music space at the Katoomba Youth Centre

The Street Art Wall

Local mural artist Mandy Schöne-Salter supervised a collaborative street art wall. This workshop allowed people to experiment with spray paint, a medium that people rarely have the opportunity to explore because of the stigmas attached to it.

street art wall at springwood lot party

The street art wall begins to take shape

Fiddling with spray paint caps and with spray paint on my hands (after picking two colours and making my own awkward stencil), I chatted to Mandy about mural art and how it is so much more than graffiti.

“I want to see more street art,” she explained, noting that the Springwood street art developments have been positive and a way to brighten up empty walls.

As the event progressed we watched the canvas get covered by more and more artist works. It was amazing to see the piece take shape.

The street art wall at the end of the Lot Party

Street art can bring culture and infuse local meaning into an empty wall. It makes places brighter and can bring out character. Mandy noted that street art shares art with a larger audience: “It brings art to people – not many people attend art galleries.” This is certainly true of Mandy’s piece near Springwood station, with thousands of people seeing this mural daily.

mandy schoene salter's mural at springwood train station

Mandy Schoene-Salter’s mural at Springwood Station

Reflecting on the event I think it was incredible how a few crates and tents can transform an under-utilised space into a vibrant free community event, especially in our current cost of living crisis where it can be too expensive for many to go out and socialise regularly, increasing individual isolation.

The Rotary Club of Springwood

There was a variety of affordable food on offer as well, thanks to a range of food trucks and the Rotary Club’s fundraising sausage sizzle. Rotary’s fundraising at events like these has helped build community resources, including the exercise equipment at Winmalee Skate Park and the Buttenshaw Park accessible carousel.

Thanks to its convenient location right next to the train station, attendees from as far as the inner city were able to arrive and appreciate what the Blue Mountains has to offer.

I also love how the inclusion of art workshops helped support local artists and fostered creativity within the community: exposing attendees to new art making practices, ideas, and mediums. It also provides job opportunities for local creatives and collectives who then share their skillsets with young people.

I hope to see more Council-sponsored events like these in the future. By bringing people together in new ways we create a stronger community and foster new connections between individuals and organisations.

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This story has been produced as part of a Bioregional Collaboration for Planetary Health and is supported by the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (DRRF). The DRRF is jointly funded by the Australian and New South Wales governments.

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About Tamsyn McGrouther

Tamsyn McGrouther is a local writer, creative, and university student. They are passionate about Climate Justice and using journalism to build new narratives about the world. You can find them wistfully staring into the middle distance on public transport or very stressed out on a roundabout.

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