Bianca N V is a freelance writer, PR guru, lover of shoes and all things girly, Mum of four and life-long explorer of Melbourne's south east and more. 'Like' and subscribe for updates to keep you and your kids entertained for a little or even less.
Published March 18th 2015
Seven of the best parks for parties in Melbourne's southeast
There are literally hundreds of great pocket parks, reserves and playgrounds scattered throughout our 'burbs, but what makes a top park for kids' parties? It has to have good shady areas for play and picnics, access to free public toilets, ample free parking that's not time limited, a barbeque area (to keep dads happy), shelter in case of rain or beating sun, drinking fountains, and of course, a great playground for the kids that is safely enclosed from any roads. From Chadstone through to Chelsea, here are my top seven picks of party friendly kids' parks.
1. Phoenix Park, Rob Roy Road, Chadstone (Melway reference: 69 D2)
Phoenix Park, Chadstone (Malvern East). Photograph courtesy of the City of Stonnington.
With its wooden fort playground, 10 different types of swings and the very big bonus of an on-site cafť and library, Phoenix Park is a great option for kids' parties, family get-togethers and play dates in general. The local community worked hard to establish this park, and you can really feel the community spirit within it, with the names of every person who donated time or money to make it a reality etched on the fence palings around the playground.
The playground at Murrumbeena Reserve was upgraded in 2013 and now provides a huge space with lots of interesting play areas and equipment, including a flying fox, a fort for older kids complete with dual wave slides, scrambling wall, monkey bars, a high rope bridge and shop front, and a smaller structure for younger kids with steps, a spiral ladder and small slide. Two shelters with tables and barbeques can be booked for events through Glen Eira City Council for a fee. There is free on-street parking in Kangaroo Road, as well as off Bute Street by the football stadium and clubrooms.
3. Packer Park, Leila Road, Carnegie (Melway reference: 68 J8)
Packer Park playground, Carnegie. Photograph by Bianca N V.
Also known among locals as 'the frog park', Packer Park has an enormous elevated play area with spiralling ramps that form different pathways to a range of interesting play spaces, slides and ladders. The spaces created underneath elevated sections are ideal for younger kids, creating a kind of underworld wonderland. Adjacent, there's a dry creek bed that becomes a pond with enough rainfall and home to many tadpoles and frogs. It is partly fenced off from the play area, but you do need to keep a close eye on curious littlies when full.
The main playground at Hodgson Reserve includes a colourful play structure under shade sails, as well as swings, two stand-on spinners, ride on bug-shaped springers and an interesting ship-like structure with a propeller and steering wheel that spins around. Follow the pathway to the top of the park to discover a life-sized Snakes and Ladders board game where kids are their own pieces, spinning the dice and moving up ladders or down snakes until they get to the end. The rotunda at the main play area can be booked through Glen Eira City Council for parties.
This is one of the most popular and largest parks in the area, backing onto the Kingston Botanic Gardens and with long walking trails and great play spaces for kids of all ages. There are several fort-like play structures with slides, firefighter poles, ladders and bridges, a sand pit featuring fixed excavator diggers that kids can sit on and 'drive,' a long flying fox, monkey bars and a fire truck on springs that kids can sit in and also 'drive.' Tonnes of parking is available within the Centre Dandenong Road service lane car park, and if you're after a bit of retail therapy while dad watches the kids, DFO is directly opposite.
As the name suggests, this playground is set on the site of the former Mentone Racecourse (1888 to 1948) and the horse-racing theme is reflected strongly throughout it. There's a wooden play structure with horses racing up the walls, complete with binocular look out post, twin slides, tunnel and a rope ladder, as well as three horse springers, swings and a large flying fox in the surrounding area. The playground overlooks a large ornamental pond with ducks and geese, which could be a bit of a challenge if hosting a gathering for little ones; best for 5 year olds and over. There is a shelter with tables and a barbeque, plus another stable-like shelter with tables beside a basketball court area.
Bicentennial Park would have to be the Luna Park of playgrounds in Melbourne's southeast. Completed in December 2010, it features a regional play space, kilometres of walking trails, two long mound slides reminiscent of something you'd find in a water theme park but with the luxury of not having to get wet, an interactive musical smurf village, a liberty swing for children who are mobility impaired, the Mount Chelsea Express train that kids can sit in and 'drive,' springers, spinners, sand pits, a row boat, monkey bars, flying fox, several sheltered barbeque and pincic areas, and so much more you just have to see it for yourself!
Halley Park in Jasper Road, Bentleigh also deserves an honourable mention! Photograph by Bianca N V.
Remember when Victoria was known as 'the Garden State' for its abundance of beautiful parks and reserves? Well nothing's changed in that regard, we're now just also 'on the move,' and that's definitely true of our kids. For an affordable outdoor party in a park, or even just a family get-together or group play date where the kids can burn off some energy and you can rest assured that everything you need is located nearby, why not try one of my top seven picks?
Think you've found a better park for a kid's party in Melbourne's southeast? Share the details in the comments.
Everyone has fun when the party is at the right park! Photograph by Bianca N V.
Great article and very timely for me! I would also recommend Peter Scullin Reserve on the Mordialloc Beach Foreshore, and Markham Reserve in Markham Avenue, Ashburton. Both are well worth a visit for a play date, or a kid's party.
Phoenix Park is fantastic. It's actually secure with fencing and lots of interesting things to play on and use. It has a castle and draw bridge and you can walk way up high and look down to the ground. Swings n slides as well within and quite a few surprises more there too.
There is a popular skate ramp"park next to it, plus bbq's and seating.
Your children will want to return over n over again. It's great fun and a decent size which is also well laid out.