Until the next Ice Age starts, Melbourne will continue to experience periods of very hot weather during summer. When the weather warms up it's nice to be able to cool off in a water play space. One of our favourite spots is the Seville Water Play Park which is a former swimming pool which has been filled in and landscaped into a water play area with fountains spouting during the summer season. There is also a dry riverbed area of rocks with an augur for drawing up water. There is a grassy area, toilets and a small playground nearby. The icing on the cake is that admission is free.
The Riverwalk Water Play Park in Werribee has a 30 minute cycle which has 300 different steps in the sequence and includes features such as the Lollipop Splash Zone, Water Wall, Water Snake Tail Spray, Crown Jet, Porcupine Fountain, Column Jet, Calyx Jet, Spyral Water Tunnel, Fyrefly Jet, Dancing Water Wheel, Water Cave, Mist Jet and Stingray Parasol. There are also two areas where a hand pump can be used to pump water into a series of metal dishes, channels and pipes including a water augur.
The Crocodile Park Playground in Point Cook has a large metal crocodile spouting out a stream of water into a trough which overflows into a wide channel with large stepping stones to jump across. The 50m long channel meanders down a slope to a circular pad with water spouts of varying heights. Be prepared for wet kids.
Another refreshingly cool play area is the Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden at the Royal Botanic Gardens. The Meeting Place in the Gardens has a spiral fountain water feature that sprays up out of the ground in summer. The Spiral fountains only operate from 10am - 4pm on days when the temperature is forecast to exceed 25 degrees. However, the Rill (stream) operates 10am - 4pm daily.
At the Royal Botanic Gardens Cranbourne "Rock Pool Waterway" the kids can jump between tiles of different heights in a slow moving river.
You can cool off on a hot day by walking inside the curtains of cascading water of the Coles Fountain. The fountain is made of stainless steel on bluestone paving and is located at in Parliament Gardens Reserve at the corner of Spring Street and Albert Street, Melbourne.
There is a water pool play area at the Lion Gorge in the Melbourne Zoo in Parkville. You can also climb on the crocodile which frequents the area. A tip is to bring a change of clothes and wait until the end of your zoo visit to come to the water play area because the kids are sure to get soaking wet.
Exploring rock pools along the bay can be a refreshing as well as exciting activity in hot weather. Two interesting spots are Ricketts Point Marine Sanctuary in the Beaumaris area and Point Gellibrand Rockpools in the Williamstown area. There is a good chance of seeing sea creatures like sea urchins, starfish and jellyfish. Make sure the kids don't touch anything since there is a risk of finding a dangerous blue ringed octopus and never take anything away. Make sure you look at the tide times to ensure that you come at low tide (see link to tide information below). Otherwise it might be a wasted journey.
Some Aquatic Centres have a fun Water Play Park with slides, water sprays shooting in all directions and a tipping bucket which periodically launches a huge flood of water on top of everyone waiting expectantly below. Some of these Centres are: Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre (GESAC) in Bentleigh East (indoor), Casey Recreation & Aquatic Centre (RACE) in Cranbourne (indoor), WaterMarc Banyule in Greensborough (indoor), Noble Park Aquatic Centre in Noble Park (outdoor), Oakleigh Recreational Centre in Oakleigh (outdoor) and Leisurelink Aquatic & Recreation Centre in Waurn Ponds (indoor).
The two main Water Adventure Parks; Funfields in Whittlesea and Adventure Park Geelong in Wallington have large Water Play areas in addition to an array of slides and other water activities.
A number of playgrounds have incorporated water features including:
Royal Park Nature Playground is a fantastic new playground with natural play elements and a lovely water play area with hand pumps, water sprays and channels to control the flow of water down to the sandpit below.
There are a number of playgrounds in the Docklands with water features including Point Park Crescent (has a water pump which allows water to be pumped out and flow along rocky channels into a large sandpit), Buluk Park, Victoria Harbour Promenade (concrete troughs and six water sources combine into a central drainage area), Ron Barassi Snr Park, Docklands Drive (a pump and water source which leads down a channel with a chance to block the water and create a dam) and Victoria Green, Import Lane (water play area which allows water to flow from a tap into a depression in the concrete and out a channel into the sandpit).
Wombat Bend Playspace in Lower Templestowe is a lovely fenced playground that has a couple of water channels around a sandpit which is lovely for young kids.
Verona Drive, Keilor Lodge playground has a big water pump where kids can pump water into a channel and direct the water via various routes using sluice gates into a sandpit. Harpley Adventure Playground in Werribee has a water hand pump which lets you pump water out onto the path.
The fully fenced Eltham Lower Park Playspace in Eltham has a large sandpit with a water pump and metal containers for making sand pies. Make some pies and then head off to the nearby Diamond Valley Miniature Railway which runs every Sunday.
Melba Park playground in Lilydale has a water feature with a hand pump to draw up the water and release it along a curved channel with a sluice gate to the rocky watercourse below.
Buckingham Reserve in Sunshine West has a lovely water play area with pumps, water channels, reservoirs and an augur. It's worth going there just to find out what an augur is!
Bundoora Park Play Space in Bundoora has a water course area with bridges and a water pump. As an added bonus it is also close to a cafe.
Plum Garland Memorial Playground set along the beach in Albert Park has a water play area where you can pump water into a big tank.
Highpoint recently installed a new 'small' playground outside the new Fruit and Vegetable section which has a small water feature amongst rocks that is sure to prove irresistible to kids on hot days.
At Dandenong Park, Lonsdale Street, Dandenong there is a fully fenced playground with a tap that runs water down a trough to the sand pit. Hours of fun for little kids.
The superb playground at McKenzie Reserve, Bell Street, Yarra Glen has a big sandpit which is partially shaded with a rock waterfall and a water bubbler. The Ice-Creamery on the (chocolate) cake is that the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery is just down the road.
Halliday Park, Mitcham Road, Mitcham playground has a water feature with pump, water channel and two sluice gates.
If you go to the Werribee Open Range Zoo (admission fee for adults and free for children) there is a chance to keep cool during summer at the Hippo Water Play area. The water fountain play area is located amongst several hippo sculptures. You can spin the wheel and spray family and friends with water from the hippo’s bottom! Close by you can also watch the real hippos at water play. The water play area is activated when temperatures reach 25 degrees Celsius or above.
Healesville Sanctuary (admission fee for adults and free for children) has a creek for water play which the kids are sure to love.
Melbourne has a ring of nice beaches spread along Port Phillip Bay. One of the best for families is Frankston Beach which has clear, shallow water and soft sand which provides a safe swimming beach for all ages. The beach is protected by the Frankston Life Saving Club and there is plenty to do along the Foreshore including a lovely adventure playground and outdoor sculptures.
Another nice beach for families is Mothers Beach in Mornington but is sandy, wide and rock free. It is family friendly swimming with shallow waters.
Water Play Spaces are also springing up around regional Victoria.
Midlands Reserve Water Park in Ballarat features water cannons, fountains, high pressure jets, a 260 litre-per-minute waterfall, soaking buckets, water umbrella, a five metre high tower and a gentle play area for toddlers. No-one is going to stay dry after entering this water maelstrom. There is also another free water play park in Ballarat at Sebastapol Water Play Park.
Livvis Place Play Space in Newington, Ballarat has a wonderful all-abilities playground which includes a water play area with water spray, water play tables with various metal taps, sprays and valves and a large concrete area cut with channels which the water flows along. There are little metal flappers which can be used to control the channels which the water flows down.
Metung Water Play Park in East Gippsland is a nice location next to a playground which really hits the spot on a warm day. There is a concrete area with water sprays and water runs along open channels beside a decking area.
Bright Splash Park beside Morses Creek in Bright has four splash pads designed to suit different age groups, from toddlers up.
Yarrawonga Foreshore Splash Park has a range of cascades to keep the kids cool and there is also a water slide (fees apply for slide).
The Long Gully Splash Park in Bendigo has bubblers, tippy buckets, misters, water cannons and other novelty play equipment. Kids can shoot water at all heights from a serpent, mushrooms or water lilies. The Splash Park features 16 water sequences. A dry play area and basketball ring and key adjoin the Splash Park and there are free BBQs, seating, picnic tables, bike racks, drinking fountain and giant shade sails which cover a majority of the area.
The Wangaratta Water Play Park is centred around and beside a big rock mound with tunnels which has steps to the top where there are two water cannons which can fire water at the kids below. There is a huge tipping bucket which unloads a torrent of water when it fills up, big circles with water sprays, a butterfly with sprays, water cannons, small tipping buckets, metal trays which water runs along and some water sprays which come out of pipes. That's a recipe for water fun.
The Mildura Water Play Park overlooks the banks of the Murray River and has shallow pools and fountains.
Regional Aquatic Centres with water play parks include Aquamoves in Shepparton and Eureka Outdoor Aquatic Centre in Ballarat.
If you want to combine accommodation and a splash park, book a stay at one of the following places:
BIG4 Bellarine Holiday Park in Marcus Hill has a water playground as well as a BMX track, cinema room, flying fox, indoor toddler play room, an adventure playground, full size football goals, a 1.2km walking track, soccer goals, croquet lawn, a tennis court and even a coffee bar for Mum and Dad.
BIG4 Inverloch Holiday Park in Inverloch has an indoor heated splash park with water slides, tipping buckets, water cannons and fountains all inside a temperature controlled building. There is also an indoor heated swimming pool, giant pillow, basketball court, tennis court, adventure playground and just across the road there is a safe swimming beach.
BIG4 Swan Hill Holiday Park in Swan Hill has a water park with a giant tipping bucket, giant jumping pillow, 18 hole mini golf course, outdoor pool and even a race track with pedal go-kart hire.
Note: Some water play parks may not have the sanitary levels of a public swimming pool. Parents should ensure that their children act responsibility to maintain the water quality.