Field of Mars Ecological Sanctuary

“Caring for our environment with sensitivity and extreme care”

Executive Summary

The 51-hectare Field of Mars reserve is a lush nature reserve and environmental education centre in Sydney. A new ecologically-sensitive boardwalk was required to replace a rotting and hazardous existing structure, helping to preserve the local habitat while also enhancing access and safety for school students, nature lovers, cyclists and the general public.


City of Ryde





Scope of Work

Deliver, Detail, Develop, Discover



Fleetwood Involvement

The City of Ryde Council choose Fleetwood Urban as their sole construction partner, based on a proven track record of delivering similarly complex solutions within sensitive surrounds. Guided by the Develop, Detail and Deliver stages of our DesignExecute2™ delivery model, our involvement began with brainstorming sessions involving Design-Led Engineers and Structural Specialists. From here the MARS™ Boardwalk System was identified as the most suitable construction solution, with a series of prototypes developed to test materiality and construction techniques prior to full-scale installation. As a direct result of this testing, specialist piling tools were able to be used eliminating any need for heavy machinery to dig traditional foundations. Materials were able to be walked in and, in most cases, installed by hand.

More Project Information


The project was led by City of Ryde’s internal Open Space Projects team. Their vision was to create a safe, highly functional and low-maintenance new boardwalk that delivered a simple means of transport within a delicate environmental area, with a subtle form that blended in with the surrounding wetland scenery.


The main construction challenges were caused by the topography of the site and the dark, moist wetland environment that was often prone to flooding. Material choice was limited – yet critical – as evidenced by the previous timber boardwalk which needed to be removed having decayed and rotted away in many places. Every stage of the project required a light environmental footprint, including access through the National Park – we couldn’t simply roll in heavy machinery! For the same reason, it was also essential the finished boardwalk was a highly durable and robust solution requiring minimal ongoing maintenance.


The bespoke Mars™ Boardwalk System provided a highly versatile, durable and innovative solution. Constructed from fiberglass reinforced plastic, it was incredibly economical to build and install, with spans of less than 4m ideally suited to the natural topography of the reserve. As its name suggests, this was the project that first inspired the MARS™ system. Since then we’ve used it to deliver many more kilometres of boardwalks across the eastern Seaboard. It’s proved to be one of the most versatile, durable, low maintenance and cost effective boardwalk systems on the market today.


  • 800m elevated riparian access walkway
  • Subtle styling blends into natural surrounds
  • All-weather materials ensure high-grip in all conditions
  • High durability/low maintenance construction

  • FRP
  • FRP minimesh
  • Stainless steel
  • Mild steel
  • Hot dip galvanising

  • Mars™ boardwalk

While aesthetics were important, safety was paramount given the location of the new pathway and the volume of people who would use it every day. In terms of functionality, great care was taken to specify the right materials and finishes to ensure good grip in all weather conditions. The boardwalk has been built to withstand the elements, and on several occasions since installation the structure has had to cope with intense flooding.


The Council was clear on its environmental protection objectives: the project required a very light environmental footprint, with minimal impact to the surrounding area. With careful planning our team exceeded all expectations, delivering a solution with almost zero ecological impact on the local wetlands and surrounding areas.


The new boardwalk has played an important role bringing the local community together, by providing opportunities for families, friends and students to experience the natural wonders found in their own backyard.


Regardless of weather conditions, students and visitors can now safely explore the entire length of the Field of Mars reserve, enjoying the natural outdoor habitat – without harming or threatening it.