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Ten Best Playgrounds in Canberra - Rated!

Home > Canberra > Disabled Friendly | Family | Free | Fun for Children | Playgrounds | Lists
by Felicity Banks (subscribe)
I'm a writer of interactive and normal novels including steampunk fantasy app books set mainly in Australia. ifdb.tads.org/search?searchfor=author%3AFelicity Banks
Published February 9th 2015
What parents look for in a playground
I'm a teensy bit obsessed with playgrounds, and have even designed an Epic Tour by Playground, which I plan to attempt next time relatives visit.

It's impossible to rate one playground as the absolute best in Canberra, because different playgrounds have different strengths, weaknesses, and age appropriateness. But the best playground in Canberra is definitely one of these (organised from North to South):

• John Knight Park

This is a sentimental favourite for me, and for a large number of others - and it's only improved since we were young (although the nearby water has deteriorated). It's actually a group of several playgrounds catering for a very wide age range.



Physical Fun/Awesome Slide/s:★★★★★
Imaginative Fun:★★★★★
Surroundings:★★★★★
Safety:★★★★★
Line of Sight (for easy supervision):★★★★★
Seating (for tired parents):★★★★☆
Toilet Facilities: ★★☆☆☆
Likelihood of crowding: Low (It's somewhat popular, but has so much to do in the area that it rarely causes issues. Tour buses don't go there.)
The Best Possible Age to Be: Lower Primary
X-Factor: The artificial stream/waterfall feeding into Lake Ginninderra is a lot of fun.
Fatal Flaw: There's a mild walk from the carpark, and it's hypothetically possible for the water to be a hazard. There's quite a bit of duck poo near the water - shoes recommended.

• Commonwealth Park Playground

The Castle Playground is the perfect location for a dress-up party beside Lake Burley Griffin.



Physical Fun/Awesome Slide/s:★★☆☆☆
Imaginative Fun:★★★★★
Surroundings:★★★★★
Safety:★★☆☆☆
Line of Sight (for easy supervision):★★☆☆☆
Seating (for tired parents):★★★☆☆
Toilet Facilities: ★☆☆☆☆
Likelihood of crowding: Low. It has a very low capacity (there are bottlenecks everywhere), but even during Floriade people don't go there much, and don't stay long (even kids get sore knees).
The Best Possible Age to Be: Primary School
X-Factor: It's a Castle!
Fatal Flaw: Even with play-foam surfacing these days, this is the least safe playground around.

• Boundless Playground

This is Canberra's newest playground, located up the hill from the National Carillon.



Physical Fun/Awesome Slide/s:★★★★★
Imaginative Fun:★★☆☆☆
Surroundings:★★★★☆
Safety:★★★★☆ (The merry-go-around moves fast, but the entire playground is fenced, including the large individual toilets.)
Line of Sight (for easy supervision):★★★★☆
Seating (for tired parents):★★★★☆
Toilet Facilities: ★★★★★
Likelihood of crowding: High. It has a very high capacity, but it's also very popular, with tour buses arriving constantly. I recommend going very early in the day, or on a school day. Gates open at 7:00am.
The Best Possible Age to Be: Primary School
X-Factor: Unprecedented wheelchair access, and several unusual swings.
Fatal Flaw: Parking can be tricky. If all the spots on Wendouree Drive are taken, you can park at Russell Offices across the main road nearby.

• Pod Playground at the National Arboretum

A work of art and a serious adventure for the lion-hearted child.



Physical Fun/Awesome Slide/s:★★★★★
Imaginative Fun:★★★★★
Surroundings:★★★★★
Safety:★★☆☆☆
Line of Sight (for easy supervision):★☆☆☆☆
Seating (for tired parents):★☆☆☆☆
Toilet Facilities: ★★☆☆☆ (Distant but nice, inside the café building.)
Likelihood of crowding: Extremely High. The capacity is low (extreme bottlenecks) and the popularity is high, with tour buses arriving constantly. I recommend going very early in the day, or on a school day. Gates open at 6:00am.
The Best Possible Age to Be: Late Primary/Early High School. There is an area for younger kids that is also gorgeous, but has equally awful line of sight.
X-Factor: This is the most photogenic playground I've ever seen. The views are incredible, too.
Fatal Flaw: In the main/most exciting section, kids can get scared and need very difficult and awkward rescuing.

• Cotter Avenue Playground

The Aussie outback in the capital, plus an enormous playground. The perfect place for a birthday party.



Physical Fun/Awesome Slide/s:★★★★☆
Imaginative Fun:★★★☆☆
Surroundings:★★★★★
Safety:★★★★★
Line of Sight (for easy supervision):★★★★★
Seating (for tired parents):★★★☆☆
Toilet Facilities: ★☆☆☆☆
Likelihood of crowding: Low. It has a high capacity and is out-of-the way.
The Best Possible Age to Be: Pre-School and up.
X-Factor: The Cotter River just down the hill that is both beautiful and a fantastic adventure. The whole area is brimful of native animals - wombats, fish, lizards, and more.
Fatal Flaw: When we were there, an incredibly dangerous brown snake went right across the playground! It's also very easy to injure yourself in the river (although definitely worth the risk) and there is NO mobile coverage.

• George Gregan Playground at Canberra Hospital

An unexpected jungle treasure inside the hospital, with large and small animals galore!



Physical Fun/Awesome Slide/s: ★★★★★
Imaginative Fun:★★★★★
Surroundings:★☆☆☆☆
Safety:★★★★★
Line of Sight (for easy supervision):★★★★☆
Seating (for tired parents):★★★★★
Toilet Facilities: ★★★★☆
Likelihood of crowding: Low. The capacity is medium but you'd never get crowds at a hospital.
The Best Possible Age to Be: Pre-School and Lower Primary
X-Factor: It is so different to other playgrounds, and very beautiful and fun for all ages. The main structure is relatively small but there are dozens of other unique activities.
Fatal Flaw: Parking is a nightmare. It's likely you'll need to park in the large carpark at the other end of the hospital - which means a walk of at least ten minutes each way. The hospital AC also makes a constant hum.

• Adventure Playgrounds - Yerrabi Pond, Kambah, Point Hut in Gordon

These three playgrounds are interchangeable in some ways, but Point Hut's Flying Fox is broken and Yerrabi Pond has the prettiest surroundings as well as the largest range of supplemental playgrounds - so that's what I've officially rated here (although the picture is from Point Hut).



Physical Fun/Awesome Slide/s:★★★★★
Imaginative Fun:★★★★☆
Surroundings:★★★★★
Safety:★★★★☆
Line of Sight (for easy supervision):★★★★☆ (It's a large area.)
Seating (for tired parents):★★★☆☆
Toilet Facilities: ★★★☆☆
Likelihood of crowding: Medium. It's large, but popular.
The Best Possible Age to Be: High School
X-Factor: Adults can get a thrill from this one too.
Fatal Flaw: Canberrans are convinced that Gungahlin is a huge distance away, so are reluctant to visit if they live elsewhere.

• Indoor Playground Questacon

I only know one indoor playground: Mini-Q at Questacon (for under-six only, and it's expensive). I hear Kid City and Monkey Mania are fantastic too.

I have membership to Questacon - it's that good.



Physical Fun/Awesome Slide/s:★★★★☆
Imaginative Fun:★★★★★
Surroundings:★★★☆☆ It's near Lake Burley Griffin, but not within sight.
Safety:★★★★★
Line of Sight (for easy supervision):★★★★☆
Seating (for tired parents):★★★☆☆
Toilet Facilities: ★★★★☆
Likelihood of crowding: Very high. When it's not a school day, it is very likely you will need to wait an hour or more to get inside. You can enjoy the rest of Questacon, or be sure to arrive at 9:00am sharp.
The Best Possible Age to Be: Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers.
X-Factor: The imaginative play areas are incredibly detailed, and built to a child's scale. And you can go there in any weather.
Fatal Flaw: The cost, and the crowding. And don't forget to take a spare outfit; the water play smocks aren't omnipotent.

It's worth mentioning Dickson Pool and the Leisure Centre in Gungahlin, both of which have water playgrounds (outside and inside, respectively).
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Why? Fun!
Your Comment
There's an awesome playground in Queanbeyan. Completely fenced, plenty of shade, toilets, bbq area, parking, grass area, great equipment for children or take a ball to kick or throw around. It's near the bowling clubs, tennis courts and AFL ground.
by kirst (score: 0|3) 965 days ago
Great list and fantastic rating scales, thanks! The Kambah adventure playground is pretty good too. And the toadstool park at Belco markets makes up for its small size by being undercover and with its retro funkiness and proximity to good coffee.
by aliso (score: 0|3) 964 days ago
There are another couple of indoor playgrounds: Lollipops in Majura Park and Let's Play in Nicholls.
by Felicity Banks (score: 1|59) 1011 days ago
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