Over a year ago, I wrote an article about the Best Playgrounds in Googong North, which is a new estate and township 25 minutes from Canberra's CBD. It is an interesting area to explore as everything is brand new - new homes, new schools, new gardens and the best part - new playgrounds! As the majority of the residents in Googong are families, there are playgrounds built every few hundred metres around the estate and a new ones seem to pop up every year.
A few months ago I received a comment from a Weekendnotes reader to say that a new playground - and a good one! - had just been opened on Aprasia Avenue, just down the road from Lovegrove Park. Although it has taken us a few months to get there over the winter months, my daughter and I finally visited the new Gumnut Playground, on a sunny August morning. When we drove down the hill to find it, my daughter cried "Wow! It looks like a space ship!" - and it did. From a distance, the round pods shining in the sunlight looked metallic and the whole effect is impressive - and very space-like.
Gumnut Playground - table tennis tables, BBQ area and gumnut pods to climb
Although it looks space-like from afar, the playground is actually a series of gumnut pods which have a network of climbing ropes and bridges to get from one to the other. The playground is part of the Yerradhang Nguru Park - which means "Gumtree Camp" in a local indigenous language. A Gumtree Camp was a good place to stop and rest for awhile under the shade of a gumtree - which is a meaningful description of what they hope to happen in this creative parkland. It is a spot for the community to get together and relax in the shade and look out to the Yellow Box gumtrees in the distance - which provides the quintessentially Australian backdrop to this scenic park.
Yerradhang Nguru Park and the undulating hills in the background, dotted with Yellow Box gums
In the playground, my daughter found it quite a challenge to climb up the first rope ladder and then along the sloping floor to the rope bridge. This is definitely one for the older kids and a great way for them to learn how to overcome obstacles. On the other side of the rope bridge is the main gumnut pod, which has a metal slide coming from the top. Alternatively, kids can climb up the centre of this pod on a rope ladder and work out how to get up into the gumnut. According to my daughter, the view of the surrounding countryside was "awesome" and she could hear the "baas" from the sheep on neighbouring paddocks. The quick trip down the slide was the highlight - before taking up the challenge of climbing the next gumnut.
For smaller kids there is a swing set, made from natural wood, with a flat swing for older children and also a baby swing, for smaller bubs and kids. There is also a smaller gumnut pod, lower to the ground, which has a series of climbing ropes once you get inside. The design of this smaller one is a little hard to get into from the front, with a slippery ramp, however if you walk around to the back there are rock climbing pads to help the kids get up - and in.
At the front of the playground there are two brightly coloured table tennis tables for some outdoor competition - just remember to bring your own paddles and balls. There is also a shady area nearby so that spectators can watch, as well as two picnic tables and gas BBQs. It is the perfect area for a family get-together or children's birthday party, with plenty of things to do for all ages.
Each time we visit Googong, we are surprised by how fast the area is growing - new streets have opened up, new land is for sale, new display villages have been built and new playgrounds are ready to explore. For people who live outside Googong, it is a short trip to this shiny new area and once you arrive, you could easily spend the day playground-hopping from one to another and exploring the region. At the time of writing there are at least 5 new playgrounds to road test when taking the short drive to Googong - which is just 10 minutes from Queanbeyan and less than 20 minutes from Tuggeranong.
Why not take a day trip and explore them all this weekend?
Gumnut Playground - just one of Googong's creative playgrounds
Whilst there, also take a short drive down to Googong Dam to take in the view and enjoy the activities along its shores. Also each year, Googong hosts Googfest and a range of music and family events - see here for details.