A stay at home Mum who doesn't stay at home much; too many exciting things to be discovering in this city...
Published March 3rd 2012
We are lucky in Melbourne to be blessed with a huge variety of playgrounds, catering for children of all ages, abilities and interests. Whilst you may often tend to default to your local playgrounds, it can be worth travelling a bit further afield to see what other play spaces our city has to offer. Below are five of the playgrounds in Victoria which made my family say, 'Wow!'
Wombat Bend Play Space This little park is just divine. It's not massive and it hasn't got huge amounts of play equipment, but it's beautifully laid out and has a sort of let's-go-adventuring feel to it. You could almost believe you were in a large garden because there's plenty of greenery and garden beds, with lots of twisty, turny paths which are crying out to be explored. The play equipment is dotted around the paths and gardens so that each time your little one rounds a corner or climbs a slope they'll make a new discovery.
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There are some great features in this park which also add to the unique appeal of it. The bat swing is clearly a favourite; with three hanging seats, an adult can push the bat around and the swings will fly out and around to the delighted squeals of the children sitting in them. The parallel flying foxes are also great fun – one has a seat with a harness so the toddlers can enjoy it as well as older children. Add a wooden maze, a musical bridge, an enormous see-saw, a climbing frame and a snake path to follow and you've pretty much covered all bases. Our favourite feature however (especially on a warm day) is the system of gulleys and gutters that lead to a little rock waterfall which ends in a huge sandpit. Two buttons activate jets of water which flow along the channels and into the sand. The tinies could spend hours in here getting wet and sandy.
Located in Lower Templestowe, Wombat Bend has onsite BBQs, toilets and plenty of shade, making this an ideal playground for hot, summer days. Don't forget to look out for the resident (wooden) wombats.
Bicentennial Park Bicentennial Park on Scotch Parade in Chelsea is an absolute gem. It has a huge range of equipment and is a favourite for birthday parties, probably because of the abundance of BBQs and undercover seating. It covers quite a large area and has its own car park and toilets. Plus the local ice-cream van often puts in an appearance which is always a bonus.
The very appealing Smurf village is easily explored by wobbly little legs; it is home to a hands on musical hut and a burping cow. The climbing area has bridges, flying foxes, monkey bars, stepping stones and rope nets. There is a large, covered sandpit with resident turtles to climb on and a digger for that all important construction work. The two yellow tube slides which snake their way down a huge mound are a favourite with the older kids, as is the giant birds' nest swing. Younger children might like to take a journey on the train or a trip in the rocking row-boat. Other features include swings, a hammock, a roundabout and rocking animals.
There is so much here to keep the kids entertained, that you might even be able to sneak off to the outdoor gym while they're not looking.
St Kilda Adventure Playground Located on Neptune Street and affectionately known as The Junkyard, this adventure playground is a garden oasis for city kids and was built to ensure that children who might not have their own backyard had a safe place to play outdoors. It is staffed and run by community members and as such is open only at specific times. Check the opening times and phone ahead before you visit or you may be disappointed to find it closed.
Much of the equipment is made from reclaimed materials (hence its nickname) and there are some really quirky features that you won't find in other playgrounds. Your little ones are encouraged to use their imaginations here. They can choose from sliding down the pirate ship's plank, climbing into an aeroplane's cockpit, crawling through an underground tunnel of tyres, riding the flying fox, bouncing their socks off on one of the trampolines, dumping and pouring in the sandpit or serving customers in a shop. There is also an awesome twisty slide in which you can get up a pretty decent speed.
The Junkyard has a sister playground in South Melbourne called Skinners Adventure Playground. We haven't made it to this one yet, but it's pretty high up on the To Do List. If you're after a playground with a difference – The Junkyard will certainly hit the spot.
Camelot Playground at Fairy Park Now I might be taking liberties here because the Fairy Park itself is a theme park which you're going to have to pay to enter. However the Camelot Playground totally has the 'wow factor' so I thought it was deserving of being on this list. Think dungeons and dragons, damsels in distress and knights in shining armour.
As you've probably guessed, this playground is themed like a fairy tale castle. Children can descend to the dungeons, traverse the turrets and scamper through the many secret tunnels and passageways. Their imaginations will run wild. It also boasts a huge slide; I wouldn't be surprised if it was the longest one in Victoria, it really is massively long. There is also a separate play area for the littlies and an immense roundabout which seats about 20 people at a time. I'm not sure who had the most fun when we visited this place – my son or my husband.
Fairy Park is in Anakie which is about an hour's drive west of Melbourne. This playground definitely scores points for being one of a kind.
Hays Paddock, located in Kew, is great in that it caters for children of all abilities with a huge range of innovative play equipment. It is set in lush parkland, but is fully fenced so no need to worry about kids wandering off. There are nearby toilets and plenty of parking spaces, as well ample seating for the adults to hopefully get a few minutes to sit down.
The main structure is reminiscent of a huge wooden creature (wheelchair accessible), with a myriad different ways of climbing up and sliding down. Other strange creatures can be spotted throughout the park, as well as a circle of toadstools, lending a whimsical air to the place. Children can play the musical pipes, bounce on a spider's web, relax in the swinging hammock, share the giant see-saw and follow the squishy paths as they snake through the bushland. There is a wonderful covered sandpit with diggers and a fort and everything is arranged in a very appealing fashion.
There are some great photos of the playground on this website, which should whet the kids'appetites.
Well if you're still sitting here reading this, it might be time to go and try out one of these spectacular playgrounds. Embrace your inner child and go and have fun with your family. You will almost definitely find yourself saying 'Wow!'
Love the site, love the playground section. Little one loves the different play fun at the different playgrounds. Hubby and I love exploring Melbourne. We are amazed how much we have not still seen and who would have thought playgrounds are a way of doing this.