I'm a Melbourne girl, born and bred, and new resident of Geelong. Fantabulous adventures await as I explore my gorgeous new city and the stunning Surf Coast. But don’t worry—I’ll be crossing the bridge regularly to get my Melbourne fix.
Published November 16th 2015
Fantabulous fun at one of Geelong's riverside treasures
Geelong really is blessed with some truly beautiful parks, waterways and open spaces, and of course, the beautiful Corio Bay. And given the mighty Barwon River flows right through the heart of this wonderful city, there are endless opportunities to enjoy Geelong's great outdoors, riverbank-style.
The Barwon Valley Fun Park is just one of these riverside treasures, and was upgraded in 2013 as part of the City of Greater Geelong's Play Strategy. It is located right on the Barwon River, on Barrabool Road, Belmont, in between Shannon Avenue and the Princes Highway.
The Barwon Valley Fun Park is a skip or two from the fabulous Barwon River Trail, which is one of the best ways to see and explore the natural beauty of Geelong. The trail gently twists and turns and follows the river with over 20km of sealed paths, so if you're lucky enough to live pedaling distance from it, ditch the car and use some pedal-power to get to the park.
The Barwon Valley Fun Park is set right on the Barwon River Trail
Live down Waurn Ponds way? You can also get to the park via the Waurn Ponds Creek Trail, which connects to the Barwon River Trail—trust me, it does. Just keep pedaling along the trail, cross over Barwon Heads Road at the oval at South Barwon Reserve, follow the asphalt road halfway around the oval, veer left to go under the bridge at Breakwater Road, follow the path right, and bang, you're on the Barwon River Trail (I was most excited when I popped out here whilst on my bike as part of my explorations of my new city). The Barwon Valley Fun Park is about 5 or 6km along the trail from this point—once you've hit the river, just keep following the trail and you can't miss it.
Isn't the Barwon River a perfect place for a park?
Cycling is a great way to get to the park, but if you live that bit further away, or are heading through Geelong on your way to the Surf Coast, there's ample car parking, with two car parks easily accessible from Barrabool Road. And if you can fit the bikes in the car, even better—the park is a perfect place to start your ride along the Barwon River Trail, with toilets, barbecues and picnic shelters so you can pack a picnic to feast on when you're back from pedaling your way along the trail.
The Barwon Valley Fun Park has everyone covered when it comes to park fun, with all sorts of fantabulous play equipment and contraptions and things to explore, set over a huge expanse of green, with lots of trees and the river shimmering just over yonder—close enough to catch a glimpse of it as it flows by, and to hear the occasional shouts from the rowers, but far enough away so the little people in your life won't wander off to take an unexpected dip.
The park has some of the original play equipment left, but also has some new additions, including the only flying fox in the Geelong region—yep, that's right folks—the ONLY one, so best get your flying gear ready for take off at the Barwon Valley Fun Park. There's also a huge open sandpit, cleverly landscaped around wooden platforms and poles to encourage creative play and, well, the opportunity for kids to just run a little crazy and make up their own games.
There's brand new sets of swings (thank you, City of Greater Geelong—you've got me sold), a colourful climbing thingamajig, another sandpit with little digging machines, and a big whirly-whizzy thing to stand on and spin around and around and around (surrounded by plenty of grass for the inevitable topples over when the little folk step off it and lopsidedly walk away).
For the sports-mad ones among your brood, there's a sports court with a basketball ring and backboard, and a netball ring as well (no fights please). Then there's perhaps the coolest spot in the park—a hammock. Yes! A hammock! Strung up between rustic-looking wooden poles, with soft sand underneath, I'm sure it's hot property among the hordes of kids during the park's busy times—that's only if the weary parents don't get to it first (lie down, and within a couple of gentle swings, the Land of Nod will soon be beckoning I'm sure).
A gravel path circles the edge of the Barwon Valley Fun Park, and the green grass surrounding the park is just asking for footballs to be kicked, a game of cricket to be set up, or some ripper games of chasey (kisses optional). There's plenty of seating dotted around the park, so it's also a lovely little place to stop and rest if you are in the middle of a cycle along the Barwon River Trail (there's water fountains too, up near the toilets, so you can replenish your water bottle for the next leg of your journey).
Geelong is full of places to explore by foot or by pedal, and the Barwon Valley Fun Park is a great place to start. Tell the kids to pack their imagination and enthusiasm, and you'll have hours of fun at this riverside wonderland. Just don't lose too much track of time as you doze away in the hammock…