Full-time mum, part-time writer, avid fantasy reader and wannabe novelist. My articles focus on family and fun. Visit my site: www.highfantasyaddict.wordpress.com
Published May 1st 2012
A cacophony of birdsong rings through the trees as we exit our car. The gum trees sway in a soft breeze, dappling the grass. The atmosphere is peaceful; far more reminiscent of a park somewhere in the Blue Mountains than a park in the Eastern Suburbs. In fact, as I stand in the sunshine it is almost impossible to believe that Foreshore Road is just over the hill, even though I can hear the gentle hum of traffic beneath the birdsong.
We are heading for the playground, but my little one is distracted by the waterbirds that peck nearby, and we head down to the edge of the lake to watch them. Much to our delight a badling of ducks swims over, followed by a gaggle of honking geese, all looking for a feed. We obey the "do not feed the birds" sign, and the birds, sensing that we have nothing to give them, swim back into the middle of the lake.
We head for the playground. It is lovely. Surrounded by gum trees which afford it natural shade, the playground makes use of the spacious surroundings. There is a large wooden adventure climbing unit with a log walk, monkey bars, flying fox, slide and naughts-and-crosses game, a larger metal unit for bigger kids, a cubby house, a tyre swing and regular swings, a little merry-go-round and a fun-looking sand area for some messy play. Right behind it is a shaded BBQ area.
After enjoying the playground, we went to check out the "facilities" and stumbled upon another wonderful area for kids. It is a little known fact that in the 1840's and 1850's, the Sir Joseph Banks Zoological and Botanical Gardens featured the colony's first zoo with elephants, bengal tigers and bears. To mark the area, council have erected a number of concrete animals which depict those you would see in a zoo. Right behind the toilet block, away from the lake, you will find a life-size pair of grumpy gorillas, a dour-looking camel, two bears and a sitting elephant that the kids will delight in climbing all over – make sure you go further into the Zoo Park to find the tigers!
Sir Joseph Banks Park is a sprawling park with plenty of shared bike and pedestrian footpaths that crisscross its length, so if you are planning a picnic, plan to have a walk or a cycle around the grounds before or after lunch. Perhaps you can imagine back to the 19th century, when this park, replete with walkways and arbours, was a famous Pleasure Grounds and Australia's equivalent of a European spa resort.
The park, which was refurbished during the bicentenary, also features a sports oval, thematic gardens, a maze, pergolas, a life size bronze statue of Sir Joseph Banks, formal terraces, an arbour as well as picnic benches scattered throughout.
The Important Stuff
Parking: Easy. The park is quite sprawling, and if you are travelling down Botany Road, there are a number of signs pointing to the park, many of which lead to dead-end streets. If you are heading to the playground and BBQ area you need to go down Fremlin Street. The easiest way to find it is to look out for the Subway on the other side of Botany Road. You will find a parking area inside the park at the bottom of Fremlin Street. Gates close at 7:00pm.
Coffee / Refreshments: You can find cafes along Botany Road.
Toilets: A well-maintained block of public toilets can be found 20m from the playground.
Shade: Naturally shaded.
Is the Playground fenced: No. And it is also quite near the water's edge, so make sure you keep an eye on your little ones at all times.
Verdict: An amazing park – well worth going out of your way for. The kids will love the playground and the animals and you will love the peace and quiet. Perfect for a picnic or an afternoon stroll.