Australasia / City Breaks / Victoria

Marvellous Melbourne: The St Kilda Adventure Playground

We were very fortunate to be staying a stone’s throw away from the St Kilda Adventure Playground on Neptune Street. This playground is one of two adventure playgrounds which are community hubs run by the local council with the aim of promote free and unstructured recreation to children and young people in a safe environment. It is open everyday and has limited opening hours (11am -4:30pm on non-school days and 3:30-5:30pm on school days).

For us, this meant that the Barn Owl could bring the kids to the playground in the late afternoons when Thumper was taking his afternoon nap or if we wanted to have a rest from sightseeing but still engage the kids in an outdoor activity.

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Risk-taking play in a supervised “urban backyard” setting

Whilst we were there, we observed that there were volunteer staff members present during school days, who were all young adults from local tertiary institutions. They were there to supervise latch-key kids who came to the playground after school had ended and were waiting there to be picked up by their parents.

There were also a few kids who had sensory processing issues and were there with their parents to encourage them to get active and get messy!

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Well-designed play areas

The whole area was crammed full of play areas built from reclaimed materials and designed to suit a variety of tastes. There was a pirate ship, a treehouse, an aeroplane, a castle…and plenty of slides, tunnels, ropes and bridges for kids to explore.

Each area was well-designed and encouraged the kids not only to engage in imaginative play, but also to use every part of their bodies to wiggle, crawl, jump, climb, slide and swing. Unsurprisingly, very soon all my 3 kids were covered in dirt and soil – but it was totally worth it!

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Multi-sensory, outdoorsy fun

One of my favourite play areas was the outdoor trampoline. Only one child was allowed to play on it at a time, for safety reasons. What really impressed me was the fantastic system in place to make sure that kids took fair turns and policed themselves without the need of parental intervention.

A big red button connected to a light on a 3 minute timer was on the wall behind a platform with coloured numbers painted on it. Any child waiting to go on the trampoline then sat on the deck, on the number corresponding to their place in the queue.

During the turn, the child would run to hit the big red button (or ask one of the other kids for help) which turned on the light, then he or she could play on the trampoline until the light automatically went off at 3 minutes. The ones waiting on the sidelines would often watch and cheer the child on the trampoline, encouraging him or her to jump higher or try different ways of bouncing (‘touch your toes!’, ‘turn in a circle’ etc).

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So much fun!

What I liked best about this urban playground was the sense of community and togetherness that it brought to all the families who were present. We were all there for the same purpose – to have safe outdoor fun with our kids – and everybody looked out for each other. It was almost like walking onto Sesame Street.

There were even some latchkey kids who came to talk to me as I sat on a picnic blanket with Thumper. They told me about their homes and families, and asked my opinion about problems they had at school and with their friends. I wondered privately if the kids understood the concept of ‘stranger danger’, then I realised that there was a staff member standing some distance away, quietly observing the children without disturbing their play. No wonder the kids felt safe enough to approach any grownup!

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Relaxing on the picnic blanket

It just so happened that we were staying in St Kilda during a non-school day, so we took advantage of the extended opening hours and brought a picnic lunch with us.

There’s nothing like some tasty sandwiches and fresh fruit when you’re sitting under a tree on a soft picnic blanket.

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Thumper wants all the sandwiches

Travel planning tip: If you’re planning to visit the adventure playgrounds, do call before you go as occasionally the playground may be booked for a special activity that is only open to disadvantaged kids from the local community.

St Kilda Adventure Playground
Open Mon – Fri 3:30 -5:30pm, Weekends and school holidays 11:00am – 4:30pm
Address:  26 Neptune St, St Kilda, Victoria 3182, Melbourne, Australia
Tel: +61 03 9209 6348

Skinners Adventure Playground
Open Mon – Fri 3:30 -5:30pm, Weekends and school holidays 11:00am – 4:30pm
Address: 211A Dorcas St, South Melbourne, Victoria 3205, Australia
Tel: +61 3 9209 6352

For more information on the St Kildas Adventure Playground and Skinners Adventure Playground in Melbourne click here

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9 thoughts on “Marvellous Melbourne: The St Kilda Adventure Playground

  1. It is nice to know that someone is there supervising but still giving the kids all the freedom! Nice place. Wished there was something like that in Singapore. Plus the good weather there is something to be envious of! 🙂
    Vivien ( Beautiful Chaos )

    • I think there has to be some form of security as the playground open to the public and the kids who come without their parents tend to be ‘at-risk’ kids from underprivileged backgrounds. It’s not supposed to be a ‘drop-off’ playground, though, which I think is good because the service doesn’t get exploited.

    • Yes, except it’s made completely out of recyclables and there is adequate shade within the playground to filter out the sunlight in the heat of the afternoon.

  2. This is one of the few things I miss about Australia – playgrounds that are built around nature and they are not all so homogenous (read: coming from the same tender exercise.) Will keep Neptune St. in mind if I do return to Melbourne. It’s also nice of them to station older students to keep watch over the kids – something we should do here rather than having older students just helping with remedial (ho hum)….they should join in play time too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Definitely! I thought it was really awesome that there are opportunities for tertiary-level students to get involved in their local community by acting as big brothers and sisters to the little ones, modelling good behaviour by being generous and kind!

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