I had visited Joyce Park several times and never noticed what was under my feet until an extroverted six year old kid pointed out to me that I was standing on Mars. I looked down and sure enough there was a round disc representing the red planet right underneath me. He then went through every planet in the solar system, pointing to each planet's location on the ground in and around the play equipment. As a science buff, it gave me a whole new appreciation of this simple playground. You can view most of the planets, giant stars and comets from the centre of the playground, elevated on a domed green and blue earth. All of the planets are backlit with a black spongy floor material that sparkles with white specks like the tiny stars in space.
A meteor rushing past Jupiter and a few bright stars
Joyce Park has a lot more to offer than just an appreciation of our place in the solar system. The play equipment itself is one of the best in the area for toddlers who are just starting to get the hang of walking and running. This is because it has a long, gently sloping ramp with no steps or bridges. The exit points from the ramp are graded with the easiest exits at the lowest elevation and parents are clear to walk alongside the ramp to reassure their child as he/she ventures higher. There are two electric barbecues, modern toilets and sheltered picnic tables right next to the playground if you want to make a day of it. You can book the barbecue and picnic tables with the City of Glen Eira to guarantee access on busy summer weekends.
The top of the world with the long playground ramp in the background
At the western end of the park there are some lush lawn areas, a rotunda and several large shady trees. There are also a few circular garden beds which make for great games of chasey. The western end of the park houses the historical Box Cottage, which is open to the public on the last Sunday afternoon of every month except in December and January.