Vic Lucas Park in Bulimba is known by a few different names – the Pirate Park is probably its most common nickname but for my friends and I, we refer to it as The Office. It is rarely crowded and we are usually lucky enough to commandeer the heavy, graying old picnic table as our Board Table. We attend to Team Drinks first and take a variety of crackers, snacks and fruit to satisfy the Workers before we, The Management, can move on to our ongoing Agenda – secret women's business.
Whilst The Workers buzz around the well-worn path to the pirate ship climbing frame, the compass roundabout and the swings, we settle in for another enjoyable mother's meeting. It is just the right balance of shade to sun and distance between us and the kids to make an afternoon here one of life's great pleasures. The toys are well maintained and the woodchips regularly topped up so that you can relax and enjoy the river views knowing the kids are safe having fun whilst you get a moment's peace.
Of course, you have to earn your place at the Board Table by doing your time at the front line. Mothers of younger toddlers are still found doing the hard yards pushing swings and dusting off face-planters who have picked up too much speed on the slide but fear not, ladies, your time will come. By the time they get to 6-ish you are home and hosed. They don't want to have their mother hovering any more than you want to hover so at last you will be free to be seen and not heard – except of course when you need to bellow across the field that "we're tagging NOT tackling!" for the fiftieth time.
The park also offers enough space and bush for older kids to explore and set up camps. I am a great believer in letting kids create their own magic and our boys refer to the trees around the edge of the park as their 'farm'. They collect dead wood to build fires and swipe at the long grass to 'mow' it before building 'barns' and 'stables' that can often be found still standing when we return a week later – how good is that?
Marks out of ten
Play items: 7 Good but not too many to choose from Safety: 8 The woodchips are dusty but soft Sun safety: 7 No sun sails but beautiful trees offer plenty of shade
Water bubbler: 9 One bubbler but it can get boggy under foot Toilets: 6 OK but basic Coffee access 4 You'll have to byo from Oxford St