I am a stay at home mum trying to be a freelance writer - or a freelance writer trying to be a stay at home mum. I enjoy getting out and about with my two little girls and am Chief Editor of Perth Mums Group perthmumsgroup.com.au
Published November 22nd 2017
Encouraging kids to get grubby through play at Mills Park
Perhaps the ever-shrinking Perth block and backyard has something to do with it, but there seems to be a lot of nature playgrounds popping up around the suburbs. Whatever the reason, these sorts of playgrounds have a focus on making the most of the natural bush surrounds and encouraging children to enjoy being outdoors.
This week my two children and I paid a visit to Mills Park, a 24-hectare reserve in Beckenham in the city of Gosnells that is home to The Mills Park Centre, tennis courts, a skate park and the Mills Park Nature Play Space.
The playground is nature play at its best – beautiful treated timber play equipment, bush surrounds, a flying fox and lots of ways and means to just get dirty while playing.
At the heart of the playground is a timber play structure made up of log steps and ladders, balance beams, walkways and climbing platforms that lead to a cubby and slide, all with lots of rope play incorporated into the structures.
The playground has a little tepee, a rope based climbing frame, sand diggers, a separate sand and water play area and a roundabout with a twist – when I say a twist, I mean it has no handles, so kids pretty much have to hold on to the side for dear life, meaning it's probably not suitable for younger toddlers.
Older kids will love racing each other on the double flying fox – there's plenty of mulch to land off if they fall off! My daughter had a go – with me holding onto her and running her down the mulch, which she loved.
Another part of the park that is a favourite for pre-schooler is the stone slide – it's made of some sort of granite and was slippery enough for the kids to whizz down and was definitely a draw card.
Running adjacent to the playground is a boardwalk, which makes for a nice little walk under the shady trees. Much of the pathway around the park isn't sealed, so it was a bit of a bumpy ride for my baby in the pram.
Kids just seem to love this sort of playground – I had to bribe my toddler with snacks to get her to leave, as by this stage she had kicked off her shoes and was enjoying some water play but the baby was getting restless.
There are toilets on the outside of the Mills Park Centre but no baby change, but we managed. As we were leaving we noticed what looks like a cool sculpture from a distance, but as you get closer – or see kids climbing on it – you'll notice it's actually a small rock climbing structure. Cool!
Mills Park is also home to a small café called Fika on Brix, which serves breakfast, lunch and sweet and savoury snacks along with hot and cold beverages. It is open Tuesday to Sunday and closed Mondays. We stopped in for a coffee before we hit the playground but it was certainly a quick visit before my daughter was running out the door.
Mills Park Nature Play Space is well worth a visit if you are in the Gosnells area. It's great for kids who love nature play and is something a little different from your average playground.