Growing up, we lived across the road from a large park. There were overgrown patches of bush within the park, and the waist high undergrowth used to house BMX bike tracks, hidden cubby houses and dragons. The slide was dangerously tall, the swings a little rusty, and the wooden forts contained actual, real-life splinters.
It's difficult to find a park like that these days. There is a tendency to clear patches of bush so only the trees are left standing. Most equipment is plastic and metal and surrounded by a sea of crushed up car tyres. I am sure many kids think cubby houses are made out of neat planks of wood and assembled in the backyard over the weekend. Mine do. They probably think the idea of crawling into the middle of a half dead shrub with three friends and the local dog laughable.
But this is not to say that kids can't have fun at parks today, maybe they just have to work a little harder. Because these days many local parks are so sanitised and simplified, it's extra cool to find a local park with undergrowth, and if it's surrounding a lake with a real life island – even better. If that lake happens to house turtles, then surely this must be a winner.
Mabel Talbot Park (incorporating Jolimont Lake) in the western suburb of Jolimont (next to Subiaco in case you haven't heard of it) is pretty well hidden, and as well as the lake and turtles, it also includes two play areas, viewing decks, picnic tables and a BBQ. It is located at the end of Peel, Roseberry and Landsdowne Streets, with parking along most of these streets.
So that's the kids taken care of, but what about the parents? A short walk from the park on Cardigan Terrace is Tasty Tarts, perfect for a takeaway coffee and cake, or browse through the range of rolls and sandwiches if you wanted to have a picnic. The scrummy range of sweets include triple chocolate brownie, date and ginger slice, and a bunch of muffins and biscuits and cost between $3.50 and $4.50.
There is a large range of baguettes, wraps, salads and sandwiches including my favourite the BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato- $8.50). For cold winter days there are toasted wraps, bagels and Turkish Breads ($8.50 - $11.50) and homemade soups. The selection changes every day. Almost all the condiments are own-made including the mayonnaise, onion jam and relishes.
Tasty Tarts also does platters and party catering and if you look in the fridges there are a range of homemade, frozen meals for those days you have spent too long in the park and can't be bothered cooking dinner.