When we first moved to Canberra with our daughter, aged 3, I asked other mothers at the local park what they thought the best park in Canberra was – and they all said "The Pod Playground of course!".
When you drive along the Tuggeranong Parkway on the outskirts of the city, you look up to see beautiful green hills with new trees and a modern architectural building at the top. This is the Arboretum - home to an array of interesting walks, displays and the locally famous Pod Playground.
Although the playground is the exciting lure for the kids, it is interesting to note that this set of hills originally used to be a pine forest before it was destroyed in bushfires in 2001 and 2003. When they designed the Arboretum they chose to plant out the hills with threatened and endangered species of trees from around the world that could handle Canberra's tough climate.
Telstra Tower as seen from the top of the Arboretum
Miss Three was beside herself when we started exploring – the Toddler area has a sand pit, climbing ladder, pods to hide in, interactive music "pods" and small slippery dip. For all ages there are the swings and the net swing, that a few kids can sit on or a tired Daddy.
Further along you walk down in into the "hardcore" playground area for the adventure and thrill lovers. It is most suited to older children and unsuspecting parents that get taken along for the ride. There are a few interconnecting "Pods" that you climb up ladders to, and then you crawl through net tubes up to the next pod for a little play inside, before climbing up to the next one, until you get to the very top. If your brave little one starts to get abit scared by this stage, it will be Mummy or Daddy who will need to climb through the net tunnels with them, as once you start it is very hard to turn back with several kids behind you on their way up.
There is a small covered slide at the bottom which is great for the young ones, but the corkscrew slippery dip from the very top pod is almost vertical, dark and tricky to manoeuvre if you are with your child – so only go that far if you dare!
Undoubtedly this really is "the Best playground in Canberra" – visually it is beautiful for the adults (you notice a lot of adults running their hands over the sculptured wood in admiration) and for the kids it is completely different to any other park they have been to. Once you are done, head inside for a hot chocolate and muffin with a view – the end to a perfect family outing.