Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published August 20th 2012
For kids who like a bit of dirt & thrill with their fun
Port Phillip Adventure Playgrounds
Well, my kids have safely made it through their playground years (though there was the time I caught my daughter by the gumboot just before she face-planted in the mud as she fell over the side of a sudden-death massive slide in England.....). However, I have spent the better part of the last 14 or so years slogging my way through the various playgrounds on offer in Melbourne. And let's be honest, a lot of them - especially those built in the 80's and 90's - are VERY VERY bland - all in the interest of health and safety and reducing council insurance premiums of course. Thankfully, a bit more excitement is starting to creep back in now, with sky-high climbing nets and modern takes on the wonky roundabout in many playgrounds, but we were always on the look out for one of those old-fashioned playgrounds, where there was a bit of thrill, a bit of risk, hopefully even a bit of mud and a whole lot of fun to be had.
St Kilda Adventure Playground
Luckily, spotted around the city are some quite out-there, wacky, unique and hugely fun adventure parks. These ones feature big legal-looking boards on their usually gated entrance ways about using the park at your own risk etc. etc. They are often set up and sometimes even staffed by volunteer community group members, and occasionally offer a place for mum and dad to make a cuppa while their kids go feral. Cuts and bruises are par for the course (for the kids, not the mum and dads), and they are great places for city kids to test their limits, experience risk, hoon along outrageous flying foxes and take a walk on the wild side. Of course, you will be guided by your own family philosophy and child's own abilities on this, but if you do decide a walk on the wild-side is for you, then 'enter at your own risk': here are some of my family favourites:
St Kilda Adventure Playground, off Neptune Street, St Kilda: grungy, fun and full of everything you can imagine: chooks, billy cart tracks, flying foxes, sunken dens, treehouses. The best! It is even rated one of the world's Top 10 Most Imaginative playgrounds by InCulture Parent Magazine!(Melways 2P B6)
Skinners Adventure Playground, between 209-211 Dorcas Street, South Melbourne - all the things you didn't know you could do with a shipping container! Call before visiting (03) 9209 6352 to confirm opening hours - mostly open after school and usually staffed (Melways 2K E2).
Albert Park Fort, Aughtie Drive, Albert Park (opposite the Pits) - a rambling long wooden fort built by the local community, which is hide and seek heaven for the under-9's (Melways 2K F10).
Harleston Park, Allison Road, Elsternwick - with the longest, funnest slide from the top of a hill to the bottom - huge fun! (Melways 67 H2)
All-abilities adventure playground at Hays Paddock in Kew East (Melways 45 J2)
Hays Paddock all-abilities Adventure Playground, East Kew
I know there are lots more fantastic adventure playgrounds across Melbourne. Take a few moments to share your nomination for best adventure playground in Melbourne with Weekend Notes readers via the Comments. Why would you recommend it and what is your kids' favourite play feature there?
We have taken our grandkids to Finn's reserve,Lower Templestowe where there is a great playground containing everything you could ask for, and it is all enclosed so the kids have freedom and are safe. Map 33 B4 in Melways.
For people living in the Frankston area I recommend Ballam Park Reserve, [Cranbourne Road (West), Frankston] great playgrounds, BBQ facillities, plenty of space to play ball games and generally have a great family day out.
(Vanessa from Cranbourne)