I'm a freelance writer living in Perth. Having 2 young kids with endless energy, we are always on the lookout for new outdoor activities.
Published October 16th 2012
The biggest free entry playground in Australia
Perth as a city does not lack playgrounds. Every suburb has a few where local kids could hang out and swing, slide, or climb to their hearts' content. However, it would be hard put to find one playground as complete and impressive as Apple FunPark in Donnybrook.
Welcome to Apple FunPark
Claimed to be the biggest free entry playground in Australia, Apple Fun Park was opened in Easter 2008 and has play equipment for children of all ages, ranging from pre-schoolers (ride-on animals, swings), primary school-age kids (rope bridges, flying foxes), up to teens (climbing net and play towers that rise up to 9.5m above the ground). I even saw some Moms and Dads abandoning their poise and enjoying themselves on the big kid equipments. The claim to be the biggest might be precarious with new super playgrounds like the Opportunity Playspace (in Rotary Park, Wanneroo) cropping up, but regardless of what the tape measure says, I can vouch that this playground is indeed big and fun for children.
So where is this ultimate playground again? It's in Donnybrook, a small town about 200km south of Perth on the South Western Highway. Its official address is corner of Collins and Reserve Streets. However, you do not have to remember that exactly. If you travel south on the South Western Highway, the playground will be highly visible on the right hand side of the road not long after you enter Donnybrook. You have to enter a side street and cross a railroad that's parallel to the highway before you can find the car park and entry to the playground.
This colourful playground brings cheer on a cloudy day
We stopped by this playground a couple of times during school holidays and judging from the number as well as number-plates of the cars parked there, it is definitely not a mere neighbourhood hang out place. To cater for all the out-of-towners, plenty of facilities have been provided at or near the playground, including seats, shaded picnic tables, and electric barbecues. At peak hours you have to be very lucky to find an empty table, but if you are happy to spread your picnic on the grassy area then you'll be fine. There are only two toilets (with universal access) within the fence of the playground which means queueing is to be expected on busy days. However there are more across the car park (near the Visitor Centre) if you don't mind the short walk. There is also a cafe right in front of the playground selling coffee, other drinks, food, as well as orchard produce.
If you're curious about why it is called Apple FunPark, you only have to drive through the countryside around Donnybrook to find out. There are apple orchards around and it's obviously one of the main livelihoods of the town. When in bloom around the month of October, the apple orchards are very pretty with white blossoms decorating each branch like snow.
Image courtesy of Donnybrook Visitor Centre
So the next time you plan a holiday down south, either to Bunbury, Pemberton, Valley of the Giants, or other destinations, make sure you schedule in a couple of hours (or more) in Apple FunPark. Read a book while your rambunctious lot roam safely within the fenced playground, or let your hair down, race them to the top of the climbing net, and say cheese when your picture is taken.