A stay at home Mum who doesn't stay at home much; too many exciting things to be discovering in this city...
Published May 8th 2019
Treat the Kids to a 5 star Play Experience
As any young adventurer will tell you – not all playgrounds are made equal. Below are five of the most adventurous, extensive and just plain fantastic playgrounds that Victoria has to offer, as tried and tested by my three young judges, aged four, six and nine.
• Royal Park Nature Playground (Parkville)
We are clearly not the only ones to think this is a spectacular playspace as it has been deemed the nation's best playground by the Australian Institute for Landscape Architects. A stone's throw from the Royal Melbourne Hospital, it is a nature based playground which covers a large area with a huge range of things to do. There are all manner of slides set into the hillside for children of varying ages, an amazing high ropes course for thrill seekers and a great sand and water play area for the tots. This is in addition to swings, rocks, logs, bridges – I could go on. You could easily spend the best part of a day here if you bring a picnic although parking is limited so be prepared to drive around for a while. It's also wise to bring a change of clothes as there are ground level fountains as well as the water play area.
One of the judges trying out the waterplay at Royal Park's nature playground
This is a beautiful playspace with equally beautiful beach views from the top. Huge slides begin atop a large slope and dotted around the bottom are areas of play equipment amidst artful landscaping. There are modern takes on roundabouts, tunnels, balance beams and swings as well as netted climbing areas and a huge flying fox (which sadly was out of order when we visited in January 2019). Shaded seating areas with barbeques make this playground a good option for gatherings, particularly since you can combine it with a trip to the beach and a stroll along the Rosebud jetty.
The centrepiece of Booran Reserve playspace
• Booran Reserve Playground (Glen Huntly)
Redeveloped in recent years, Booran Reserve playground cost a whopping $10.8 million to build. However there is a lot to show for its price tag. At one end there is a splash pad featuring lots of fountains and water jets which is great for cooling off on a hot day. At the other is a veritable cornucopia of play equipment, dominated by an impressive climbing net (not for the faint hearted) which leads to an equally impressive tube slide. Other equipment includes softfall slopes, tunnels, swings, boulders, bridges and what looks like a hamster wheel (there's always a queue for this one!). There are also two flying foxes and areas for ball games.
Tucked away in a 15 hectare bushland reserve, this park is all about climbing. In October 2016, it won the Parks and Leisure Australia Award of Excellence for the best playspace in Australia and it's easy to see why. There is a fantastic ropes course which will challenge even the most adventurous kids – my three spent ages suspended above the ground. If you can get them back on terra firma there are sandpits and water play for the younger ones, as well as an assortment of balancing equipment, swings and hidey holes. You can also go for a bushwalk in the surrounding area or make use of the picnic shelters and barbeques for lunch.
Ballam Park's colourful equipment
• Ballam Park (Frankston)
Recently upgraded, Ballam Park gives you two for the price of one. The smaller playground is aimed at the preschool crowd with the usual array of climbing, swinging and sliding options. The main playground – which is the shining star - is aimed at older kids and has a huge range of excellent play apparatus. At ground level you can find a full size basketball court (bright purple!) surrounded by ramps and rails which are excellent for scooters, skateboards and small bikes. There are small in-ground trampolines and some great bars to monkey around on. An elevated structure provides endless climbing, running and sliding opportunities and there are more areas with bars for acrobatic feats. A large flying fox is off to one side and a big bonus is that there's often an ice cream van in attendance. If your child is into parkour or wants to be the next ninja warrior – this is the playground for them.
If you're looking to tire out the kids or want to try a new playground, these five are definitely some of the best that Victoria has to offer.