is a girl-about-town and general, adventurous, know-it-all.
Published September 18th 2011
There are many parks and reserves dotted around Melbourne's suburbs but so brightly coloured is the Malahang Playspace, it unavoidably catches your eye as you drive by on Southern Road, Heidelberg. To get to the screaming purples, blues and oranges that you can see from a distance, enter via Oriel Road, Coral Street or Malahang parade and once you've found a spot to park the car, wander over to the busy and chaotic playground.
As soon as you step onto the tan bark, you will of course transform. No longer a simple park visitor, you'll find that you have sunk into a wide, tidal river and that it's full of curious sea creatures like seals and fish.
She's very friendly
To survive the river, climb aboard the S.S. Malahang Paddle Steamer with its multi-level decks and of webs of rigging. Cross over to the brig and take charge, Captain. You can check your course by peering out of the kaleidoscope window or metal tube binoculars on top of the boat and when it's time to navigate, use the many spinning blocks, the abacus and clock with movable hands to perform your calculations.
The paddle steamer will often need your help in the engine room so sometimes you'll have to jump down and operate the big boat with your feet. Luckily, there's some twirling foot peddles just for this purpose.
Although busy with the ship, it's important to always be on the look out for pirates. Your boat has many entry points that need protecting so guard the rope ladder, the coloured blocks, the rock-climb wall and the ramp.
But then again, there might not be any problems between sailors and pirates in the Malahang Playspace because the whole playground has been designed to dispel arguments about whose turn it is. There is two of everything.
Two rope climbing frames, two flying fox that run parallel to one another (and a third in the playground, complete with baby seat), two tyre swings with a wide back and forwards range, two spinning seats, two twirling poles, two rocking seats and two slides as well.
The play equipment has been designed to cater for different abilities. As well as the big, boat themed climbing structure for older children, there's a little tug boat for toddlers and babies as well. This one has a sound pipe where if one child talks into the horn shaped mouthpiece, another will be able to hear them through the receiving bell at the end.
The slides are also graded so before attempting the tall, blue, tunnel slide, the very young can practice on the single bump short rides first; and before being thrown around on the tyre swings, babies can sit peacefully in the one with the capsule like harness or the seated swings that have safety chains.
Other features of the park include a large undercover area where families barbeque and groups get together for club meets or to celebrate birthdays, however you'll need to get in early because if the weather is fine, you can expect the spaces to fill fast.
For bike and scooter riding there are smooth, wide paths in the park and on the far side, a rough dirt lane created especially for BMX.
The reserve has plenty of grass and enough empty space to be able to play soccer, kick the football or fly a kite. One of the main attractions however, is the challenging skatebowl. It provides serious entertainment for board riders, trick bike riders and those on scooters. There's grind rails, ramps, waves of concrete, and a double-troughed bowl. Enjoy.