There’s something equally exciting and frightening about a flying fox (the playground equipment, not the marsupial). They are also quite addictive, but as an (overweight and less agile) adult I have to admit they are starting to get more frightening, especially when I watch a nine-year-old girl hanging off one upside down with her knees as she flew down a hill, metres from the ground, on a wobbly wire at breakneck speed.
Thankfully that was someone else’s child I saw. Mine are sensibly as frightened as their father of breaking a bone, having seen me fall over regularly and also seen me with a cast on my arm recently. In fact the smaller the “flying fox” the more they seem to get a kick out of it, like this tiny one at a small park in Narrabundah.
So I decided to try and compile a short list of Canberra’s flying foxes for the more adventurous types to try out. Each one is different and you could visit a different one each day without getting even slightly bored. The proper flying foxes I found were at Tidbinbilla Discovery Playground, Kambah Adventure Playground, John Knight Memorial Park in Belconnen, and Yerrabi Pond in Gungahlin. There may be others around that I’m not aware of, if you know of any please add a comment below.
Everyone who spends time with kids in Canberra knows how lucky we are to live in a city with so many fantastic outdoor playgrounds, nature reserves and indoor and outdoor spaces that cater for kids. As a father, I’ve been guilty of not spending enough time with my kids on fun, healthy and educational activities, but am the first to admit it’s totally my fault and certainly not due to lack of choice or boredom with the existing options, which are too many to mention.
If you’re keen to try the best playgrounds around Canberra, just visit the VisitCanberra website which lists a few of our well-known playgrounds. Please note I won’t be looking at the many awesome non-flying-fox-equipped Canberra parks in this post, such as the Pod Playground at the National Arboretum, Cotter Avenue, Black Mountain Peninsula, Fadden Pines, Weston Park, Glebe Park, or Boundless Playground – just to name a few!
The ACT Government also has “Find A Park” – a great online list of playgrounds which lets you choose the type and place in your search. Our kids’ favourite park (with a working flying fox) by far is John Knight Memorial Park in Belconnen. Probably because we’ve been going for years, the equipment is great and kids are familiar with it as that’s where their Girl Guides group goes kayaking and canoeing as well.
Here’s a quick list of the four flying fox parks in Canberra which we have visited in our order of preference. I’ve also listed their Google Rating (as a measure of their public popularity), a link to the relevant ACT Government page that tells you more about the facilities at the park, and also something useful about what else you can try, find or do there.
John Knight Memorial Park
- Where: On Lake Ginninderra, a few minutes east of the Belconnen Town Centre, parking off Townsend Place.
- Google Rating: 4.6
- Website: http://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/find-a-park/urban-parks/john-knight-memorial-park
- Try: Bring a picnic or use the numerous barbeques and make a day of your visit. There are lots of little playgrounds to explore, as well as a lake to walk or cycle around if you’re feeling fit!
photo courtesy of VisitCanberra
- Where: 35 km south west of Canberra on Paddys River Road
- Google Rating: 4.6
- Website: http://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/find-a-park/rural/tidbinbilla
- Try: Combine a visit to the adventure playground with a short Ranger-led walk or visit the wetlands to try and spot a platypus or check out the birdlife.
Note: Once you arrive at Tidbinbilla you need to go into the visitor’s information centre and pay an entry fee for the National Park of $11.50. A yearly pass for a family is only $33. After handing over your money you are given a map of the loop road around the area and a ticket which you swipe at the entry gate. One of the first things you come across is the Nature Discovery Playground.
Kambah Adventure Playground
- Where: Off Springbett Street in Kambah, around 2km south of the Kambah Shopping Centre.
- Google Rating: 4.0
- Website: http://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/find-a-park/urban-parks/kambah-district-park
- Try: This park is currently undergoing renovation so some equipment is off limits as it is being upgraded. But there are two flying foxes at this park; one for the fearless teenagers and a smaller, slower and safer one for me and my kids. There are also massive swings that I assume some kids will get really high in if they are adventurous enough and their parents push hard enough!
- Where: Off Gundaroo Drive in Gungahlin, around 1km north of the MarketPlace Shopping Centre.
- Google Rating: 4.4
- Website: http://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/find-a-park/urban-parks/yerrabi-pond
- Try: Like Kambah, this park also has two flying foxes. My kids also really enjoyed using the basketball court and we plan to go back when it’s less busy and enjoy the free barbeque facilities there as well. This park is not as big or spacious as the other parks so it does get a bit crowded on weekends and public holidays.
The most important thing to remember with all these parks is to enjoy every aspect of them. The more your kids explore the more they will try and experts tell us that is what makes them healthier, more confident, and more resilient as they get older.
Where is your favourite flying fox in Canberra?
Were you as sad as us to see the one at Umbagong Park in Latham dismantled? How old do you think I should be before I stop using them? (I turn 48 this year).
Elias Hallaj (aka CBRfoodie) is a part-time food blogger and full-time political staffer who has joined RiotACT as a regular contributor. He enjoys free things like shooting through the air on a flying fox designed for lighter beings. Gravity rocks! All opinions are his own. If you have any tips or feedback you can find him on Twitter @CBRfoodie.