A stay at home Mum who doesn't stay at home much; too many exciting things to be discovering in this city...
Published April 28th 2012
When the colder weather hits, you can fool yourself into thinking it's still summer by packing up your togs and heading to the warmth and humidity of an indoor swimming pool. Swimming has to be one of my top rainy/cold day family activities because it's a lot of fun, and you can convince yourself you've done some exercise.
Melbourne Playgrounds is an excellent website for finding a fun pool to go to, with a comprehensive listing of most of Melbourne's indoor pools and a review of the facilities they have to offer. If you want a more streamlined version, below are my family's top 3 picks for indoor pools in Melbourne's metro areas. They are all suitable for families with young children and are all very reasonably priced.
Waves Leisure Centre in Highett
The aquatic facilities at Waves comprise 4 different pools. There's a 50 metre lap pool for the more serious swimmers, a large wave pool with various jet and bubble features and a wave machine, a shallow toddlers' pool with more bubbles and fountains, and a learner pool. There are often swimming lessons going on in the learner pool, but there is still a small section for public use which includes a small slide that opens for about 10 minutes at a time every half hour or so.
The various water features operate even at off peak times, although less frequently than during peak periods. The waves, for example, are on every 30 minutes at peak times and every hour off peak. At $5.90, a trip to Waves won't break the bank and the changing facilities are fairly spacious with enough room for buggies and the like.
This newish complex has loads of features to keep the family occupied. For the younger kids there's a small wading pool and a great splash pad where buckets,sprays, jets and fountains will keep toddlers and young kids busy. The leisure pool has beach style entry and is a quirky shape that provides many little nooks to discover. It features a bridge to swim under and a huge tipping bucket of water which will drench anyone foolish enough to sit close by (beware spectators).
Perhaps the piece de resistance are the two waterslides which unfortunately only operate during peak times. Space Bowl is of the plughole variety where you whiz around a large basin until you drop out of the hole in the bottom. The other slide is a raft ride full of twists and drops which you can ride as a single or double rider.
Other facilities include a 50 metre lap pool and a warm water exercise pool heated to 34 degrees. There are plenty of large family changing rooms which are a godsend with littlies. Expect to pay $5.80 off peak and $6.80 peak for an adult entry.
Now Leisureworks is a bit old school (think unpainted concrete floors) but it's still lots of fun for the littlies.
There is a leisure pool with beach style entry, a fantastic little frog slide (my two year old spent about half an hour just sliding down and climbing back up it), and several shower type water features. Part of the leisure pool is fenced off to form the toddler wading area which has more water jets and bubble features. Opposite this sits the warm water pool which looked hugely inviting except it was closed due to technical difficulties when we went.
There is also a 50m lap pool with ramp entry and another smallish pool which has a ball net for the older kids. There is a fairly tame 80m waterslide too, but your little one will have to be at least four years old to use it. A word of warning; none of the waterslides or bubble features operate at off peak time so it's worth phoning in advance to check they will be on.
There are a few large family changing rooms with their own showers but these get nabbed pretty quickly. Prices are $5.90 for adults, plus an extra dollar for each ride on the waterslide.