As we drive in off the busy city streets we are enveloped by the Australian native bush of Banksia, Tuart and Jarrah trees. We could be anywhere hundreds of kilometres from town, yet we are literally on the city’s door step. We are in Perth’s Kings Park.
Kings Park is one of the largest inner city parks in the world at 4.06km² or 1003 hectares, that’s larger than New York’s 3.41km² Central Park. Founded in 1895 it has become WA’s most popular tourist attraction.
Whilst we could stroll along the top of the escapement overlooking the city – which is beautiful, admire the war memorials, get our hearts racing as we walk across the suspension bridge, then admire the native wild-flowers; we surely would be greeted with cries of “I’m bored!”
So how to amuse our little man? Well there are 3 playgrounds in Kings Park and last weekend we went to check them all out.
3 Kings Park Playgrounds
Lotterywest Family Area
The family area comprises of the Ivey Watson Playground, Hale Oval (used as a playground and sporting oval since 1897) with BBQ’s and gazebos, and the Stickybeaks Cafe` – coffee is a must for any parent having to watch over the kids for a couple of hours.
The 2 level playground has an amazing range of activities for the kids aged 1-5 year, with a secluded toddler area, if you have an older child there is a climbing spider-net and sporting area just outside on Hale Oval.
This playground has been an absolute favourite of Lewis’s over the past few years. Lewis always starts on the top-level near the entrance on the multilevel climbing frame. He climbs up ropes, runs along the platforms, slips down the twisting slides and makes his way across the chains. Then it’s on to making some music with bells and clanging domes (this makes quite a din!).
A quick swing, run through the maze and then to his 2 favourite things. A fire engine and a plane. He drives the fire engine, ring the bells to alert everyone he is on his way to put out the fire, he climbs on top of the engine to reach for the imaginative hose and puts out his fire.
Next he is dashing to the aeroplane, once in the cockpit he starts the engine and the plane bobs away with his passengers on the wings.
Down he slips through a yellow tube and he is at the lower level of the playground.
He may have a rest and read one of the oversized books before captaining a boat, he reaches his destination of the castle makes his way across the sand moat and fights to be king.
It is all good role play fun in the fenced Ivey Watson Playground.
This playground is bigger than the Ivey Watson and is designed for older kids about 6 and over. Lewis is about to turn 6 and has now started looking for more adventurous playgrounds.
We walk into the park and quickly locate some shade under a gum tree on the manicured green grass. I have barely placed our picnic basket on the ground before Lewis is climbing the stairs of the recycled wood structure of the Aurther Fairall Playground.
He runs across the platforms finds the slide, slips down then locates a different set of stairs and climbs 2.5m up, he runs further away along more platforms, up and down various stairs to different levels. What a great place to play a good game of “Hide and Seek” or “Dungeons and Dragons”.
Lewis dashes back to us for a quick bite of food and is off again. Steve and I are enjoying relaxing. Whilst overseeing our son on the playground, we also enjoy the ambience of the water feature in the lake and watch other children playing cricket and turning cartwheels across the parkland, while men congregate around the BBQ’s.
Once are stomachs are full we are now happy to explore the rest of the park. We cross the bridge to Lycopod Island. Here there is another playground designed as a ship sailing the lake. The kids are all running up ladders and slipping down fireman poles as they plunder their way across the seas. When they get too hot, they cool off under the spray jets of the Lycopod forest.
We then continue our way along the 75m “Windy Walk” over the lake and arrive at Zamia Cafe’. But a coffee is not what we are after, we are looking for the life-size dinosaur replicas.
Lewis and the other children all clamber over the plaster sculptures of the Crocodile, Thunderbirds, small Dinosaur and Mega Marsupials, that each sit about 1.5-2 metres high.
You would think that this should have worn him out. But now he is ready for the next playground.
We enter through a green metal latticed walkway onto a crushed limestone foot path. Signs prominently display that no picnics nor parties are welcome in this area. This is a place for children (and parents) to learn about the natural environment.
We are greeted by guides who give us a map of the area. They are there to help direct you through the various trails available, they also advise us it will take at least an hour to make our way through.
Due to the heat we are really not keen to continue today, but Lewis really wants to climb the tower. So we compromise today just the tower (which fortunately is near the entrance) and then we will return in a month or so to explore the rest of the park.
Lewis climbs straight up without a care in the world. It is not until he reaches the top that he calls “Daddy, help me down”. Steve tells me that there is just a nice view across the trees tops from the top.
Next time when we go I will wear shorts (not a dress) and climb the tower myself.
But for now we are heading home to cool off in the backyard on the “Slip n Slide”.
Does your city’s park offer great playgrounds for the kids?