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Published November 28th 2012
One of the great things about Melbourne is our huge range and number of playgrounds. Part of the reason for our bounty must be the sheer amount of space available, thanks to our sprawling urban planning principles, and thank god for that. Almost all points of the compass in Melbourne boast at least a few excellent large playgrounds with really good facilities, many of which have been built or refurbished in recent years.
One of the best, and often missed due to its somewhat inconspicuous location, is at Lillydale Lake in Lilydale. It sits between the main arterials of Maroondah Highway and Mt Dandenong Road, on Swansea Road just outside of the main Lilydale business area.
The lake boasts a wide range of activities, but for families who want to wear their kids out, the playground is the highlight. There are actually two playgrounds set next to each other, one suited to younger children and the other suited to older kids. The area for younger kids has more shade from established trees, while the other area relies more on shade provided by the equipment.
Older kids will find much to challenge them, especially the double pyramid-shaped rope climbing frames. I nearly died when I saw my 5 year old niece scamper to the top of one of them and calmly survey her surroundings like a pirate, as they are easily six metres high. However, I think she's a bit of an exception to the rule, and most kids will approach them cautiously. There are rock-climbing walls nearby for those who want to keep their feet closer to the ground.
The main playground area consists of lots of interconnected equipment with a wide variety of climbing, sliding, running, hiding, swinging options, plus standalone rockers and rollers. There is plenty of room for lots of kids and it's often busy, as Lillydale Lake is a perfect location for picnics and barbecues with a generous number of covered tables.
It is also classified as an all-abilities playground, so there is also specialised equipment such as the Liberty Swing (requires a one-time purchase of a key from the Yarra Ranges Council).
If your child is the type that likes to run, there is also ample open grassed space for that, or you could drag them on the scenic walk around the lake, but you need to keep an eye on them as there is no fencing around the car park or the lake itself.