Compared to the swings, slides and a couple of old logs we played on as kids, today’s coolest playgrounds are dreams come true for adventurous and active kids.
In ancient times when I was a kid, a ‘cool’ playground consisted of a slightly more elaborate jungle gym set-up than your bog standard slide/swing/seesaw job. Perhaps it had a bridge, or a rope wall, or tunnels… any of these things made it clearly superior and preferable to other playgrounds.
Well, today, that sort of playground with ‘extras’ would be laughed off the park. The sophistication of playgrounds for kids today is mindboggling to a fossil like me. From adventure playgrounds which look more like junkyards and encourage the unstructured play considered vital for developing young minds, through to indoor obstacle courses which look only slightly less challenging than those seen on Australian Ninja, play options for kids are light years beyond yesteryear. Better yet, the magic words: free entertainment.
Here’s a quick selection of some of the coolest playgrounds in different states around Australia:
The Pod Playground: Located within the National Arboretum in Canberra, this nature-themed play area will test the imaginations of the littlies with giant acorns connected by rope tunnels which they can climb through and secretive Banksia pods they can hide inside. There is a climbing net, a rock climbing wall and interactive musical elements scattered throughout the playground. Combine it with the great views of Canberra and the collection of tree species within the Arboretum and this is a great half-day out for kids and adults alike. Check out the gallery at Travel With Tiny.
Forest Drive, off Tuggeranong Parkway, Weston Creek ACT 2611
Fairfield Adventure Park: This one is more designed for older kids and early teens, as might be obvious from the 11-metre tall spiderweb climbing frame that is its centrepiece. There are three long tube slides – believed to be the longest of any playground in Sydney – emerge from the top of the tower. There’s also has a double 33-metre long flying fox, different types of swings, a balancing rope, a sandpit, two different types of spinning wheels and a little trampoline. The little ones will enjoy the sandpit but some of the other structures are likely a bit beyond them so keep a close eye on them.
Vine Street, Fairfield NSW 2165
Flagstone Regional Park: A relatively new and impressive playground within the Flagstone development, near the Logan suburb of Jimboomba, this is worth the 50-minute journey from Brisbane. An 11-metre tall tower is connected to four super slides via a series of climbing webs, sky cabins and a 19-metre sky bridge, while there’s also twin flying foxes, eight different swings suitable for children of all ages, dedicated basketball and multipurpose courts, a skate plaza, and a network of paths for kids with bikes. Thankfully there’s a dedicated toddler zone, with caterpillar-themed climbing web and sunken tunnel, as well as a tiny slide for the very little kids. Lots of shaded seating, well-maintained toilet facilities and plentiful parking ensure a big tick for this playground.
Flagstonian Drive, Flagstone (Image via Weekend Notes)
Fitzroy Adventure Playground: This inner-city playground, known locally as “Cubbies”, was first built in 1974 (and claims to be Australia’s first adventure playground) but significantly updated in 2017 with a solar-powered playscape based around five ‘coal flowers’ on poles. The poles are topped by pods made of steel and recycled rubber, sourced from coal mine conveyor belts and housing 25 solar panels which both power the playground and feed into the power grid. Sculpture artist Benjamin Gilbert, who created the concept, worked with local children to create the play structure.
Condell St, Fitzroy (Image Via Kid Town Melbourne)
Braithwaite Park Nature Play: Another of the new-gen organic playgrounds which are less about equipment and more about stimulating children’s creativity and imagination, ‘active play’ and connection with nature inside a safe, purpose-built space. Smaller kids will love walking on the elevated timber decking connected with a rope bridge, as well as mounds, tunnels, slides, water play, a nest swing and a cascading water trough leading to a dry creek bed for more adventurous exploration. Older kids up to 13 will be into the flying fox and an elevated climbing net. WA is hot, but this playground takes account of that with lots of surrounding shade and tree casting shade on the playground itself, along with seating options for adults in and around the play area.
Cnr Scarborough Beach Road & The Boulevard, Mount Hawthorn
Jubilee Park: Located by the Onkaparinga River in Port Noarlunga south of Adelaide, Jubilee Park will entertain kids from a wide range of ages with its multi-layered wooden structures, built by the local community. The main attraction is a fort-style castle attached to a wooden ship, with steps, ladders, slippery dips, poles and wooden pathways leading in, out and off the structure. It’s perfect for endless games of hide and seek or imaginative games of pirates and the like. There’s also an area designed for the smaller kids with smaller playsets, games and musical chimes, as well as a dual swing so a parent can sit and swing together with a baby or small child. The playground is fully fenced for added security and there are picnic tables, shelters, BBQs, large grass area, public toilets and a car park to reduce adult stress.
Saltfleet St, Port Noarlunga (Image Via Play & Go)
Simmons Park: Suitable for kids of all ages and abilities, the centrepiece is a giant tower and slide accessible by a rope climbing structure. There’s relatively new equipment for the toddlers, too, including nest swing, small slides, a rocket ship, multiple swing sets, a spinning pole, a mini ground level trampoline and climbing equipment. There is also a bigger nest swing ideal for older children. The surrounding parkland includes shaded picnic areas with BBQs and nearby toilet facilities, plus a paved track along the Esplanade for walks or bike riding.
37 Esplanade, Lindisfarne