Each school holidays, it can be hard for parents and carers to find something fun or the kids to do, that doesn't cost too much money. A visit to the local playground is the perfect solution and if you pack yourself a picnic before you leave home, you can stay all day for free. For many primary school-aged kids, they like their playground equipment to be a little more challenging. Ideally, there would be a long set of monkey bars, something tricky to climb, a scream-worthy flying fox and maybe even a large net swing to pile onto. Something fun - but also some hard equipment to master.
Although there are dozens of playgrounds around the Canberra region, the following 3 playgrounds each have something that should appeal to the older kids in your family. It's a great excuse to get outdoors, get off the iPad and have some old-fashioned fun at the local park - although there is nothing old-fashioned about these modern playgrounds...
Aerial view of Franklin Recreational Park. Image: Redbox Design Group website (designers of the playground)
1/ The Playground With The Most To Do - Franklin Recreational Park
This colourful playground can be found 20 minutes north of the city in the area of Gungahlin. For older kids, it is perfect day out with a wide variety of equipment to play on and enjoy. Do your kids love to skate? Then take their skateboards or scooters to practice some tricks in the skate bowls. Do they love sports? Then take along a basketball or soccer ball to play within the caged sports area. Are they into table tennis? Then take your own paddles and balls and have a few games at one of the 3 outdoor table tennis tables. There are also BBQ's, swings, climbing posts, a climbing frame, a toddler area for younger kids and a "Flex" outdoor exercise area for the adults. This spacious and popular playground has something for everybody. See here for a Google map and here for a full article, with more details.
Sports and fun at Franklin Recreational Park, Gungahlin
2/ The Most Creative Playground - Pod Playground, National Arboretum
When kids visit Canberra on school excursions, they are often seen piling out of the bus at the Pod Playground for a quick play between museums. As many older kids in primary school enjoy climbing, the net tunnels between pods are a challenge and fun obstacle course for them to master. When they get to each "pod" they can call down to their friends below and then take the dark and windy slide down to the bottom. Also nearby is a large net climbing frame and two net swings to pile onto. The playground is located inside the National Arboretum, so why not go for a walk afterwards and explore the forests or view the bonsai at the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection. See here for a Google map and here for a full article, with more detail. For more information on the playground, see the National Arboretum website.
For adventurous kids, this medieval playground is a fun place to be a knight, pretend to sword fight, follow tunnels and chase friends around the maze of tunnel systems. On our family's previous visits to this playground, we have often seen medieval children's parties set up around the outside. This playground seems to be particularly popular with the middle years of primary school, when they are happy to bravely explore new frontiers. This playground is off the beaten track inside Commonwealth Park, located further back from Lake Burley Griffin and near Nerang Pool wetlands area. This is the ideal spot to have a picnic afterwards and you could also take their bikes and scooters, with plenty of flat paths around the park and lake to ride on. The closest parking is in the CIT car park and then walk under the tunnel under the highway, then turn right. See here for a Google map.
Tunnels and exploring at Commonwealth Park playground
Although Canberra has a large variety of attractions and museums for kids to visit each school holidays, you really can't beat just having a play at the local park. The fresh air, sunshine, meeting other kids and challenging themselves to try new things, makes for an enjoyable time for all ages - adults too. Why don't you hop on the flying fox yourself?
The kids can't have all the fun!
Flying fox fun at Kambah Adventure Park, 15 minutes south of the city