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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…
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Jurls 2:43 pm 23 Nov 11

aidan said :

Jurls said :

I was more curious to know if there was a fantastic fenced playground somewhere and I’d missed it!! 😀 Thanks for replying though.

Maybe you should move to NZ (joke!). Off the top of my head I can think of a couple of fenced playgrounds I’ve been to there.

Well yes, only we actually moved here FROM NZ and my children are actually New Zealanders!! Hahahahahaha 😀 😀 😀 😀

Jim Jones said :

colourful sydney racing identity said :

well done everyone who has slapped down the OP for the outrageous notion that they would like to be able to go somewhere where the kids can play safely and has decent food.

Seriously, get a life people.

What about the outrageous notion that there are already a metric f^ckload of places to take your kids to play and eat?

Seriously, I’m all for info on places to take kids, but the OP is off on an insane frolic of her own.

You can’t be serious. McDonalds and ilk do not count.

aidan 2:17 pm 23 Nov 11

Jurls said :

I was more curious to know if there was a fantastic fenced playground somewhere and I’d missed it!! 😀 Thanks for replying though.

Maybe you should move to NZ (joke!). Off the top of my head I can think of a couple of fenced playgrounds I’ve been to there.

There is an amazing playground in Levin (NZ), the whole thing isn’t fenced, but there is a small section of it that is (area of blue soft-fall):

http://g.co/maps/yat63

Come to think of it, I’m not sure why they don’t do it here. I guess they don’t want to limit access to the park for kids?

They could easily fully fence part of John Knight. It is a real PITA if you’ve got more than one child and one or more is toilet-training, having to gather them all, troop off to the loos …

Watson 2:14 pm 23 Nov 11

Or OCPD even…

Watson 2:14 pm 23 Nov 11

Jim Jones said :

colourful sydney racing identity said :

well done everyone who has slapped down the OP for the outrageous notion that they would like to be able to go somewhere where the kids can play safely and has decent food.

Seriously, get a life people.

What about the outrageous notion that there are already a metric f^ckload of places to take your kids to play and eat?

Seriously, I’m all for info on places to take kids, but the OP is off on an insane frolic of her own.

COPD: Compulsive obsessive posting disorder.

aidan 2:09 pm 23 Nov 11

jules_from_latham said :

Seriously people, there are loads and loads of places in and around Canberra, many of which have been included in posts to this question. I reiterate my previous point though – expecting to be able to go out and not watch your kids is perhaps expecting too much.

I don’t think that is what is being suggested.

I interpreted it as “it would be nice to *sometimes* be able to go to a cafe and chat with friends *without having to be constantly on the lookout for the kids”.

jules_from_latham said :

For the record, I have a three year old. I regularly go out, sometimes taking my own coffee and food, other times we purchase stuff. We meet friends with kids all the time. Generally we take it in turns – one person will be on main lookout with the kids while the others chat and drink a coffee, and then we swap.

See, you’ve qualified it already: “with kids”, “one person will be on main lookout”. I’ve been to a little cafe with a fully enclosed back garden, with some things for the kids to do and it was bloody heaven. I didn’t realise how I was constantly on the lookout for the kids until I didn’t have to do it. It was really nice.

jules_from_latham said :

I disagree with the original post – there are places offering exactly what you want. However, you still need to keep a pretty close eye on your kids – I don’t think you will ever get away from that when the kids are still young.

I haven’t seen a single suggestion for a place like that. I agree you can’t ignore the kids for prolonged periods, but is is nice to be able to have a chat for a few minutes and know they’re in a safe area and that you can glance over there every few minutes to make sure they’re ok.

Jurls 2:05 pm 23 Nov 11

aidan said :

Jurls said :

If anyone can recommend great playgrounds for toddlers that are fully fenced in and are Northside, I’d be interested to know. 🙂

It is pretty pissweak, and they’ll get covered head to toe in tanbark dust, but there is a little fenced playground out the back Gold Creek Village

http://g.co/maps/6q7jr

You’re right, I can’t think of any fully-fenced playgrounds. Have you joined a playgroup? Sure they are pretty much the same as a backyard play area, but it is with other kids.

Yeah I’ve been there, it’s not great to be honest and it’s not gated either. Haha. There’s also one 3/4 fenced by Lake Gininderra which is OK as well but not fully fenced and gated either.

Yes, I go to playgroups instead and use my backyard on days when we’re at home so it’s not really a major thing for me. I was more curious to know if there was a fantastic fenced playground somewhere and I’d missed it!! 😀 Thanks for replying though.

Jim Jones 2:00 pm 23 Nov 11

colourful sydney racing identity said :

well done everyone who has slapped down the OP for the outrageous notion that they would like to be able to go somewhere where the kids can play safely and has decent food.

Seriously, get a life people.

What about the outrageous notion that there are already a metric f^ckload of places to take your kids to play and eat?

Seriously, I’m all for info on places to take kids, but the OP is off on an insane frolic of her own.

aidan 1:56 pm 23 Nov 11

Jurls said :

If anyone can recommend great playgrounds for toddlers that are fully fenced in and are Northside, I’d be interested to know. 🙂

It is pretty pissweak, and they’ll get covered head to toe in tanbark dust, but there is a little fenced playground out the back Gold Creek Village

http://g.co/maps/6q7jr

You’re right, I can’t think of any fully-fenced playgrounds. Have you joined a playgroup? Sure they are pretty much the same as a backyard play area, but it is with other kids.

jules_from_latham 1:53 pm 23 Nov 11

Seriously people, there are loads and loads of places in and around Canberra, many of which have been included in posts to this question. I reiterate my previous point though – expecting to be able to go out and not watch your kids is perhaps expecting too much.

For the record, I have a three year old. I regularly go out, sometimes taking my own coffee and food, other times we purchase stuff. We meet friends with kids all the time. Generally we take it in turns – one person will be on main lookout with the kids while the others chat and drink a coffee, and then we swap.

I disagree with the original post – there are places offering exactly what you want. However, you still need to keep a pretty close eye on your kids – I don’t think you will ever get away from that when the kids are still young.

Jurls 1:39 pm 23 Nov 11

sepi said :

Anyone who can remember what their parents did with them is older than the target market. Toddlers need a fence to contain them, if the parents have more than one child, or actually want to talk to someone else.

Yeah, I am on a constant search for fenced in playgrounds. There seem to be loads of playgrounds but they are open so that there is only grass between the kids and the road/lake/whatever. As a parent of toddler twins I’m a bit paranoid that they’re going to run off in different directions so all I really want is fences round the playgrounds. A bit like a preschool playground idea. Why are these few and far between? I’ve found a few which have 3/4 fenced and no gate. Very odd.

I have actually lost my daughter in the Belconnen Mall play area as it isn’t fully fenced and gated. I was focussed on my son and talking to another Mum and she snuck by without me noticing. She’d only gone round the corner to the coffee shop but it was incredibly scary!!! I don’t go there now.

During the week I get round this by using the back garden or going to playgroups which are inside. At the weekends my husband is with us so it’s not a problem, we just watch a child each. I can’t imagine what it would be like with another child as well though, or if you have several under 5. Fencing toddler playgrounds seems such an easy solution.

If anyone can recommend great playgrounds for toddlers that are fully fenced in and are Northside, I’d be interested to know. 🙂

aidan 1:19 pm 23 Nov 11

sepi said :

Anyone who can remember what their parents did with them is older than the target market. Toddlers need a fence to contain them, if the parents have more than one child, or actually want to talk to someone else.

Both important points concisely put.

sepi said :

And as for Cafe Enjoy, it is hideous – a tiny fort in a fenced area th size of my bathroom, the eating area is wrapped in clear plastic, it is like a huge barn, serving mass produced muffins, and you hav to queue up to order. AWful.

Havta disagree. VALUE FOR MONEY. Sure the ambience isn’t great, but you can get out of the place without it costing $50 and the food is fine. However, it isn’t safe to leave the kiddies in the playground — right next to a car park, the gate doesn’t close and unless you’re one the outside tables you can’t see the kids.

The Bot Gardens are nice, but you have to keep an eagle eye on littles. Drowning hazard.

I’d be interested to know the ages of the OPs kids. There is definitely a real black tunnel from the 1-5 age where they need to be constantly supervised and it is pretty frankly impossible to have a sit and chat with friends. The best that can be done is have a “sacrificial adult” doing the kid wrangling.

When they get a little older it isn’t such an issue.

sepi 1:02 pm 23 Nov 11

i suppose what I want is similar to mcdonalds – only nice.

So with some fenced in outdoor space with trees and a climbing frame, leather curved booths like on Happy Days, sophisticated food, with small options for kids, and table service. Such a place would be booked out daily I’d say. People are desperate in the inner north. LIbrary time for under twos is standing room only. There is nowhere to go – they keep building units on all the open space.

Anyone who can remember what their parents did with them is older than the target market. Toddlers need a fence to contain them, if the parents have more than one child, or actually want to talk to someone else.

And as for Cafe Enjoy, it is hideous – a tiny fort in a fenced area th size of my bathroom, the eating area is wrapped in clear plastic, it is like a huge barn, serving mass produced muffins, and you hav to queue up to order. AWful.

Mysteryman 12:17 pm 23 Nov 11

neanderthalsis said :

It sounds like what you want is a McDonalds… I pity your children being that wrapped in cotton wool.

When I were a lad, my parents took me to the park. I played, the folks sat at tables, drank tea and read the paper. Quite often we went to the beach or to one of the many national parks/state forests that are scattered around the part of QLD I grew up in. If it was too cold or wet we stayed at home. There was no expectation that that entertainment and cheap food would be laid on for us. We packed a picnic and took a thermos of tea. We went for walks, bike rides, sat and talked/ate. It was relatively cheap, just the cost of a few sandwiches and tea or cordial made at home and packed in the esky plus fuel costs to get to wherever we went.

I would suggest you forget about free wifi, don’t fret about the skinny soy latte and whether little Tarquin will fall over and hurt himself on the nasty tan bark and go out and explore the Canberra surrounds. Go to Tidbinbilla or drive out to Wee Jasper. Take a longer trip down through Kangaroo Valley or to Jarvis Bay. Ride around the lake, feed the ducks, eat ice cream at the Carillon. The opportunities are endless and your kidlets will enjoy the change.

+1. Great ideas there.

dpm 11:56 am 23 Nov 11

colourful sydney racing identity said :

well done everyone who has slapped down the OP for the outrageous notion that they would like to be able to go somewhere where the kids can play safely and has decent food.

Seriously, get a life people.

Yeah, but I think we all unfortunately knew what flavour of response this post would mostly get on RA… Kinda sad really.
Maybe they report on ACT twitterers was right! Perhaps we Canberrans are a bunch of depressed, negative and agressive people…?! hahaha! Chalk up another win for scientific study! 🙂

Postalgeek said :

While we’re pissing on this idea, we should also get rid of useless nightclubs. Adults are old enough to entertain themselves in the evening and don’t need to be mollycoddled. What’s wrong with a nice game of Canasta FFS?

And there’s no need for pubs. There’s plenty of bottleshops and parks around the place.

As for the whiners who bang on about restaurants, use your own kitchen you lazy bastards. Same goes for wanky cafes. S**** me how people get so hung up about coffee made by someone else.

plus elevnty billion.

well done everyone who has slapped down the OP for the outrageous notion that they would like to be able to go somewhere where the kids can play safely and has decent food.

Seriously, get a life people.

Watson 10:11 am 23 Nov 11

Postalgeek said :

While we’re pissing on this idea, we should also get rid of useless nightclubs. Adults are old enough to entertain themselves in the evening and don’t need to be mollycoddled. What’s wrong with a nice game of Canasta FFS?

And there’s no need for pubs. There’s plenty of bottleshops and parks around the place.

As for the whiners who bang on about restaurants, use your own kitchen you lazy bastards. Same goes for wanky cafes. S**** me how people get so hung up about coffee made by someone else.

Haha! That made me lol.

poetix 9:54 am 23 Nov 11

TheDancingDjinn said :

I can cook up a man feed

Next time I’m feeling a bit cannibally, can I drop around?

Postalgeek 9:52 am 23 Nov 11

While we’re pissing on this idea, we should also get rid of useless nightclubs. Adults are old enough to entertain themselves in the evening and don’t need to be mollycoddled. What’s wrong with a nice game of Canasta FFS?

And there’s no need for pubs. There’s plenty of bottleshops and parks around the place.

As for the whiners who bang on about restaurants, use your own kitchen you lazy bastards. Same goes for wanky cafes. S**** me how people get so hung up about coffee made by someone else.

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