Whether it is surrounded by bushland, a suburban oasis, or within earshot of the beach, we Victorians love our playgrounds. We know that there’s more to these spaces than swings and picnic tables, and these last few years have shown just how vital our playgrounds are in our community.
For our children, playgrounds promote free-play, build self-determination, spark imagination and encourage activity for longer periods of time. For parents, they’re safe and maintained spaces that provide an opportunity to connect with other children and parents. And for the community, they’re vital green spaces that can benefit the environment, the local flora and fauna populations, and contribute to mental health and wellbeing.
In Victoria our parks and playgrounds are abundant. Parks Victoria manage more than 4 million hectares of parklands. We have over 40 playgrounds in the City of Melbourne alone. In our regional areas our playgrounds are listed as must-sees amongst local attractions.
We asked our readers to nominate their favourite playgrounds and parks and have added a few more to the list as well.
George Pentland Botanic Parklands - Frankston
The George Pentland Botanic Parklands in Frankston features rolling green hills, and is the perfect environment for family and community activities.
Set up a picnic rug next to the ornamental lake, or break out the snags at the picnic and barbecue facilities throughout the gardens. While the food is cooking there is a playground at the eastern end for young children, and after a big meal you can stretch your legs on one of the many walking tracks.
Victoria Park - Ballarat
Victoria Park is one of Ballarat's most significant parks and is well-loved by the local community and visistors alike.
In addition to walking paths, sports ovals and picnic areas, Victoria Park also includes an inclusive play space.
The inclusive play space features multiple play zones and accessible equipment designed for people with all abilities. Opened in 2016, the play space is visited by about 140,000 people each year.
It's not a dedicated space for people with disabilities; instead it's designed for use by all. It's a place where children, parents, grandparents and carers of all abilities and ages can play and socialise side by side. It is a place that improves community connectedness.
Bicentennial Park - Chelsea
Bicentennial Park is an old favourite with many locals who know it as Mount Chelsea. Full of enrichment and opportunities for play, this park is well worth the visit one sunny morning. The park features a regional play space, kilometres of walking trails with links to the Long Beach Trail and the Chelsea Netball Centre.
There are two big mound slides which are the centre piece of the play space. Pick your slide depending on how much excitement you want. Next to the slides is a Smurf village with a music hut, story hut and play hut complete with a mooing cow in the middle of the village. This playground also features a Liberty Swing for people with mobility difficuties.
Other elements include sculptural gardens, a shaded sand pit, Tinkerbelle sand pit, a giant basket swing, hammock, Mount Chelsea Express train, huge green grasshopper and bee springers, stand-on spinners, spiral slide, clock panel, rope climbing frame, stepping stones, rowing boat on rocker, chain traverse, tic-tac-toe, monkey bars, flying fox, wooden structure with various ladders and dual wave slides, circle set at an angle which revolves around and revolving lotus leaf with hand wheel.
Shelters with BBQs and tables, toilets, seats (including some wonderful curved seats) and water taps are spread around. The area is surrounded by fences with child proof gates.
Apex Park - Lakes Entrance
Apex Park at Lakes Entrance is a stones throw from the water and is a great space for the little ones before or after a paddle.
The playground is set under four colourful shade sails with sand under the play equipment. There is a metal climbing frame with high arch, sloping parallel bars and climbing nets, inverted U-shaped swing, in-ground trampoline another structure with metal slide, climbing net and climbing wall.
Additional features are sheltered BBQs, lots of unshaded tables, water tap and toilet, and there is access to the surf beach which is patrolled in summer.