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Victoria’s best kids’ playgrounds
Seven epic kids’ playgrounds in Victoria to add to your school holidays bucket list.
School’s out in Victoria for the winter holidays but the COVID hangover lingers. With many of the usual school holiday time-fillers such as museums, zoos and cinemas restricting their numbers due to social distancing, there’s never been a better excuse to embrace the fun of open-air play.
The best playgrounds around Victoria aren’t just collections of swings and slides, they’re complete worlds of fun and fantasy. “The best playgrounds have a theme that sparks the imagination,” says Joyce Watts, whose website TOT: HOT OR NOT highlights the best family activities in Melbourne and around the state. “Nature play and water play are great, along with hiding spots, shade and equipment for all ages, from babies to older kids.”
Not all playgrounds are created equal, as these seven high achievers dotted across the state prove. Start your engines for a journey into peak play. And remember to maintain 1.5 metres social distancing and good hand hygiene to keep your family and others safe.
Eaglehawk Playspace celebrates the Banjo Paterson poem Mulga Bill’s Bicycle.
Seven of the best kids’ playgrounds in Victoria
Lake Pertobe Adventure Playground, Warrnambool
Pertobe Road, Warrnambool
Could this be the best playground in Victoria? Plenty of kids – and their grown-ups – seem to think so, and make sure that any journey to the end of the Great Ocean Road stops by the shores of Lake Pertobe. Once a swamp, now a grassy park, it’s here that eight hectares have been turned into a playground par excellence. There are flying foxes and a maze, giant slides and endless things to climb up and scramble down, along with plenty of wide-open space for ball sports and chasing your older siblings in an annoying fashion. For the bonus round, hire a pedal-powered boat and take to the lake. This unforgettable fun park is a stone's throw from NRMA Warrnambool Holiday Park, where RACV members save 10 per cent on a range of accommodation options, including self-contained cabins, and caravan and camping sites.
Rye’s Up! Community Playground, Rye
Point Nepean Road, Rye
Nautical but nice, this captivating wooden playground on the Rye foreshore, a short drive from RACV’s Cape Schanck Resort, makes the most of its bayside location with a huge boat hull, multiple decks connected by bridges, secret portholes and a mini lighthouse. What’s not to love, me hearties? Built by hundreds of volunteers from the Rye community in 2012, it’s a draw for pirates and landlubbers alike, with a wave slide and birds’ nest swing and sea creatures such as starfish, crabs, dolphins and seahorses keeping an eye on goings-on inside the fenced playspace.
Eaglehawk Playspace, Bendigo
Napier Street, Eaglehawk
Celebrating the Banjo Paterson poem Mulga Bill’s Bicycle (“ ’Twas Mulga Bill from Eaglehawk…”) this playspace wins the top gong from TOT: HOT OR NOT’s Joyce Watts for its sheer sense of fun and silliness. “There are lots of quotes and references to the poem in the playground equipment, down to Mulga Bill’s legs poking out of the lake when he falls off his bike,” she says. Found on the shores of Lake Neangar, the eaglehawk-shaped playground has different zones aimed at varying age groups, including a butterfly-themed junior play area.
Eaglehawk Playspace in Bendigo (left); and all-abilities play at Swan Hill’s Steggall Park.
Kin Playspace, Marysville
Murchison Street, Marysville
Look for the bronze statue of a girl releasing a dove. The work of Marysville artist Bruno Torfs, it was commissioned to represent new life and has become a fitting symbol for a community risen from the ashes of Black Saturday. One of the first projects completed in the aftermath of the devastating 2009 bushfires, Kin Playspace in Gallipoli Park was meticulously planned into an all-ages adventure playground, complete with an elevated sandpit, slides and a roundabout, rope-climbing net, dual flying foxes, swings, balancing and climbing structures, and – the piece de resistance – water play with pumps.
40 Whittlesea-Kinglake Road, Kinglake
An elaborate tribute to author Garry Fleming’s 1995 children’s book about a possum who moves from the city to the bush, Bollygum brings fantasy to life. Set among the towering eucalypts of Kinglake, it features the Bower Bird’s nest (complete with shiny blue trinkets), the Platypus’s House (let the little ones make a pretend fire in the enormous hearth), and the elaborately decorated Wombat’s House. In between there are mysterious paths, tunnels, slides and musical instruments to keep attention spans on track. Added bonus: it’s situated next to a skate park, which ought to take care of any teenagers in your party.
Steggall Park, Swan Hill
Parkside Avenue, Swan Hill
All-abilities play is a cinch at this sprawling playground a few kilometres from the centre of Swan Hill. Paths winding between landscaped surroundings link the equipment, which ranges from an enormous sandpit to a huge sway swing and water play. Giant shade cloths make light work of the northern Victorian sun and picnic facilities encourage lingering. Being near the Murray River, Steggall Park also boasts an impressive wooden paddlesteamer – with a giant Murray cod gracing the bow, naturally.
Railway Station Park, Healesville
Healesville-Kinglake Road, Healesville
Junior trainspotters will thrill to the themed playground in front of the heritage Healesville train station. Train-themed fun includes a tunnel, carriages and a station clock to set (pro tip: older kids might be more enchanted by the Labyrinth Garden next door). Make the most of your trip and buy a ticket to ride the volunteer-run Yarra Valley Railway. The 40-minute round trip takes passengers rattling on a vintage train through some scenic Yarra Valley landscape and includes the spooky fun of a 150-metre-long tunnel.