Yarra Glen, north of Lilydale, is a nice little town in a picturesque location, and is considered to be the gateway to the Yarra Valley. Home of the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, surrounded by great wineries like Chateau Yering and De Bortoli with the Yarra Valley Dairy a stone's throw away, and host to more than its fair share of decent coffee places, it also boasts one of the best playgrounds around - McKenzie Reserve.
This playground was built after the 2009 bushfires with the assistance of donations from Victoria organisations and a number of others including Tesco UK (due to their relationships with local wineries), De Bortoli, and the District Council of Grant in South Australia.
Even the landscaping has been carefully thought out to provide play opportunities.
The result is a well-planned activity area that integrates with the surrounding grasslands and has good facilities, making it an ideal location for functions. It's part of a bigger grassed park area with mature European trees and a walking track, so there is plenty of room to spread out a picnic rug on a nice day, or take the bikes for a ride. It's also adjacent to the shopping strip, so easy walking to get lunch or a snack.
There are two big covered seating areas, both within supervising distance from the play equipment.
There are covered areas with picnic tables (as well as picnic tables out in the open and under trees), at least three double electric free BBQs, toilets, and bench seats everywhere. My only criticism would be that the toilet block seems to be the original pre-fire one, and has only two female toilets and no baby-change facilities.
The 8-metre high climbing frame presents an exciting challenge.
But it's all about the playing, right? And this place has heaps to do. As in any good adventure playground, there are plenty of opportunities for kids' imaginations to dictate the play. Even when it's busy, there is plenty of space for everyone.
The sandpit is HUGE and partially shaded for hot days. The rock pile is a waterfall, and there is a bubbler at the back.
The standout features include a huge partially-shaded sandpit with a great rock waterfall and a water bubbler, a big basket swing, the 8-metre climbing net, two excellent spinners (one with seats, the other a tilted gravity-driven spinner), a family-sized 8-seater springer rocker (a big improvement on the old seesaw!), and lots of landscaping that doubles as activity points for children.
Kid-operated waterfall in the sandpit - lots of fun on a hot day.
The main structure has lots of options, including clatter bridges, multiple slides including a big spiral tube slide, rope climbing walls, tunnels, step-climbs, and monkey bars. The other equipment rings the main structure so kids can explore outwards then come back in to the main area.
The swing set includes a special needs swing and the rubberised surface keeps everyone safe.
All the equipment has a rubberised surface underneath it, so it's very safe. There's also a fantastic imaginative section with a big metal dung beetle surrounded by colourful rubber mounds (for jumping from or whatever else takes your fancy) and landscaping with big flat rocks to play on.
The dung beetle and his big ball of dung, surrounded by rubber jumping mounds
We've been to this park a few times and love it - there's so much to do. There are two car parking areas, one off the main road service lane, and one off the adjacent side street. If you happen to be passing through Yarra Glen with kids in the car, this playground is well worth a stopover.