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Lamenting the lack of decent places to take kids in Canberra, and wanting to maybe change that…

By Madam Cholet - 22 November 2011 145

It has long occurred to me that Canberra has a distinct lack of places where you can take your young’uns at the weekend – and by that I mean a place where kids can have:

  • a bit of freedom to run around safely,
  • decent, challenging, safe and non-vandalised play equipment 
  • decent healthy affordable food
  • insode activities for rainy/wintery days

and where parents can have:

  • peace of mind that their kids are safe to move about without having to be behind them all the time
  • a decent meal/coffee that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg or is not sub-standard
  • a place to relax/read the paper/surf the net/chat….

You get the picture?

Mr Cholet and I have sniffed out a few places that we like to take Master Cholet, for example, Lanyon Homestead, although once he’s exhausted the gardens, there ain’t much more to interest him and in the winter, you have to be inside the cafe anyway.

There’s another homestead sort of place with horses in the Hall area – but that’s a way for us to go and again, not that much there for him, once he’s looked at the horses and had a milkshake. A few clubs around have playrooms, but I’m not that keen on the plastic environment and being shut inside a club. And don’t get me started on those set and forget play areas populated by Mums who just want to text their friends while Billy Jo runs riot…apologies to those people.

I’ve got to the point where I’m keen to start looking at ideas for a new kid & adult friendly place with a view to maybe actually putting the idea into practice if I can get the right mix. Thought I would run the gauntlet of RA….I know some will say that I am talking about a park and a picnic, (and even do some of the entertaining myself…!), but I’m also keen to provide somewhere that could cater for winter with inside activities – possibly with play leaders to provide constructive activities whilst Mum and Dad relax – just a bit, but not enough to remember what it was like before they had kids!

So, do you think there is a space in the market for somewhere that is an improvemnet on what is available right now? What would you like to see available in t erms of play, food, environment from such a location, and where abouts do you think it should be? I have more ideas on how it could look/run, but I think those questions are fine for now. Any ideas gratefully accepted…if not I know it’s prolly a fizzer!

What’s Your opinion?

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145 Responses to
Lamenting the lack of decent places to take kids in Canberra, and wanting to maybe change that…
EvanJames 5:38 pm 22 Nov 11

I don’t recall my parents ever whinging about stuff like this… but that was back in the days where you worked things out for yourself, I guess, and kids didn’t have to be waited on hand and foot and wrapped in cotton wool.

s-s-a 5:34 pm 22 Nov 11

Canberra has a distinct lack of places where you can take your young’uns at the weekend

That is BS. You are expecting one venue to fulfil a million functions. Canberra has a myriad of venues that meet all of your requirements, however not all at the same time.

Winter does not require inside activities unless it’s pouring rain or gale force winds. Neither does summer unless it’s extreme heat wave (although shade between 11-3pm is muchly appreciated).

You might be targetting people who actually like indoor play centres though, of which I am not one.

screaming banshee 5:23 pm 22 Nov 11


Sheesh, take the kids somewhere to play/run/kick a ball/ride then take them to a cafe.

CapitalK 5:11 pm 22 Nov 11

Pooks said :

Um, are you serious? Go to Questacon and take a thermos and a sandwich. The whole family will have fun there for hours.

+ 1 was just thinking this.
They have good staff (in the exhibitions) and provide some level of cleanliness – we always seem to bring home a virus from kidcity et al

schmeah 5:11 pm 22 Nov 11

I had a conversation once with someone at a party – with other adults – who talked at me non-stop about nothing other than her baby.

You kind of sound like that person.

jules_from_latham 5:06 pm 22 Nov 11

I think there are heaps of great places in Canberra! The Botanic Gardens is good, Ricardos is right next to a playground which is wonderfully convenient, as is Rodney’s as someone else suggested. Really though, you need to think about trying to balance your needs with the needs of your child / children, and contemplate maybe a park – wanting to regularly go out and relax might be expecting a bit too much! It really is important to consider the impact on other people while you relax.

Watson 5:05 pm 22 Nov 11

I have been wanting to do that ever since I took my daughter back to the playground in the European town where I grew up. The playground is big, in a massive park. And the cafe/restaurant rocks. We once had lunch and dinner there on the same day. They also serve alcohol, but that’s Europe for you, would never go down here.

The spot I would choose if I had any capital to invest is Weston park. I thought the miniature railway was going to be up for sale a while back, but I don’t think that ended up happening. It’s a dump so would need considerable investment.

Holden Caulfield 4:53 pm 22 Nov 11

Children are for life, not just for Christmas.

Pooks 4:45 pm 22 Nov 11

Um, are you serious? Go to Questacon and take a thermos and a sandwich. The whole family will have fun there for hours.

Classified 4:36 pm 22 Nov 11

sepi said :

for mine:
– cute booth seating
– a fenced out door area with pool gate
– nice snack food – wedges, fruit toast, mini ice cream cones etc
– table service

Except for the table service, that sounds suspiciously like McDonalds!

aidan 4:12 pm 22 Nov 11

It does sound like you’re maybe aiming too high. Just how long do you want the littlies to play by themselves? Any more than 20 mins is really stretching it.

You can’t see it from this review, but the Brown Sugar Cafe in Taihape (NZ) is brilliant. Completely fenced yard, lovely garden to explore, and a really nice big clean sandpit with interesting toys. Not hard to do, but just enough to keep the little kids amused.

Maybe Rodney’s fits the bill? Don’t know, haven’t tried it.

colourful sydney rac 3:58 pm 22 Nov 11

A place where other parents moderated the behaviour, or in some cases mereley observed, their red cordial hyped up thug children would be nice.

sepi 3:46 pm 22 Nov 11

OH totally.

Although everyone says they are going to open a kid friendly decent restaurant when they have their first, and noone seems to do it – but please – go for it!!!

for mine:
– cute booth seating
– a fenced out door area with pool gate
– nice snack food – wedges, fruit toast, mini ice cream cones etc
– table service

Strangely we found a great club at BArgo near sydney that was fantastic – a huge kids fort type thing with slides and music pipe etc, all inside a high fence with gate. Also a filed of grass for runnning wild, and drinks and food with table service all brought outside with a smile.

Sadly the food was ordinary – otherwise we’d probably go out of our way to go there again. It was fantastic to relax with some food and real drinks while the kids actually enjoyed themselves too.

Classified 3:42 pm 22 Nov 11

Southern Cross Club or Hellenic Club. Both have good kids play areas that are clearly defined. Both offer coffee and snacks at reasonable prices (there’s a free basic coffee machine at Sthn Cross). Neither is busy during non-meal times.

beejay76 3:38 pm 22 Nov 11

I have a couple of young-uns – 4 and 6. This wouldn’t be for me. The sort of thing you’re talking about would be extremely expensive, given that those dodgy indoor play centres with almost no staff cost an arm and a leg. Include staff to supervise the children, and higher quality everything, and the cost would be well beyond my budget. It might be something I’d do once, but not regularly.

However, I think it’s a good idea if there’s enough people out there with the money to spend. My friends and I have often bemoaned the fact that if you’re looking for, say, morning tea with mates, you generally have to choose either a kidspace or an adult space. There’s really nothing that does both.

If you were going to do it I reckon a cafe where nothing is fried would be an excellent step in the right direction. For some reason most place that cater for kids think that unless it’s fried they won’t eat it. Nuggets. Chips. Fried fish. Ugh. It’s repulsive. As for play, exploratory things are great – fairy gardens, dinosaur digs, pirate ships, water play, fish, interactive art (like drawing/ modelling clay/ painting places). I’ll just shut up now.

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