|Melbourne is a city renowned for throwing in four seasons in a single day and the laws of probability suggest that Melbourne is going to get its fair share of wet days. We've searched through flooded drains, crossed expansive reservoirs and explored raging torrents to find the best wet weather activities which Melbourne has to offer.
We are regularly adding these activities on our Melbourne Playgrounds Facebook Page until we reach the best twenty wet weather activities in Melbourne and Geelong. This list will be updated weekly after we announce them on our Facebook page. Click on the link to each activity for more information such as a full review, location and a slideshow of photos (visible on computers with Flash).
Kids Space Indoor Play & Party Centre (Hallam)
I'm not sure who had more fun when we visited; Dad, Mum or the kids. Judging by the protesting which took place as we were leaving and the request to come back tomorrow, I think it was the kids by a whisker. The highlights are the HUGE slides - four main tunnel slides, huge three lane wave slide, slide with a vertical drop and an air slide. Bring your socks, get decked out in the slipperiest pants you own and go for it. Some of those slides are downright scary. The kids had a look of shock and disbelief on their face after exiting the orange slide which has a very fast drop at the end. The slide with the six metre vertical drop is supervised by a staff member and is open for about 15-20 minutes every hour. There are plenty of routes to the top of the slides - if you are willing to come down then you will definitely find a suitable way up. Set amongst the slides are a small ride like a beginners ski lift, various tunnels and a fairly dark maze.
A nice feature is a separate fenced in area with safety gate for kids younger than three. The toddler area is fully equipped and includes a jumping castle, ball pit, wave and tunnel slides, helicopter with seating for two, cubby house, see-saw and quite a bit more.
Everything is really well padded to minimize injuries - in fact the last time I saw so much padding was when I watched the Super Bowl.
Newspapers are provided for the parents (and most were for that day which is a welcome change since I have to generally have to read last week's newspaper while waiting at our local Fish & Chip shop). If it is all too much for Mum and Dad then there are even massage chairs (payment required)
The toilets are clean although the crack in the corner of the wall suggests that Hallam is in an earthquake zone. The tables and seats are in a central location and it is possible to keep a reasonable eye on the kids at all times. There are six party rooms on the side decked out with futuristic murals with a space theme. The food was good and reasonably priced.
1-2 years: $7.00
3-5 years: $10.00
6-12 years: $12.00
Melbourne Museum (Carlton)
The museum is bursting with displays to keep the whole family entertained. We kicked off our visit with a free highlights tour which was run by a volunteer. They can add a bit of extra information and focus on the most interesting aspects. Our kids were fascinated by the story of how the huge blue whale skeleton which beached at Lorne was cleaned of meat - firstly, rats were allowed to eat the meat off the bones and then the bones were dragged through sewerage to allow bacteria to do the final cleaning. Other highlights were the dinosaur area (of course), minerals section where you can see how much your are worth in gold based on your weight, 3D volcano, glow in the dark minerals and live orb spiders.
There are some other areas of interest such as a garden showing Aboriginal culture, a forest gallery with tall trees and animals and birds (including some in a stream), Children's Gallery which has play areas for kids aged from 3 to 8 years old (you can produce a puppet show with stuffed Australian animals or build a ziggurat in Mesopotamia or construct a Parthenon look-a-like) and an outdoor Children's Garden with old fashioned kids games such as hula hoops, quoits, skittles, stilts, hopscotch and skipping. The Museum runs programs every school holidays.
A heap of fun for the whole family at a very decent price.
Melbourne Museum only - Adult: $12, Child (to 16 years): Free Concession: Free
Melbourne Museum and IMAX - Family: $70.00, Adult: $25.00, Child: 14.00, Concession: $16.00
Clip 'N Climb (Richmond)
Welcome to the colourful, fun, challenging and vertical world of Clip N Climb and confront climbs such as the Triffed, Big Cheese, Skyscraper, Red Square, Amazing, Hexed, Zigg Zagg, Face to Face (on clear Perspex wall), Dry Ice (using ice picks), Checkerplate (climb up drain pipes), Cloud 9, Dark Tower, Speed Climb (two identical walls side by side with timers), Spaghetti Junction (with rope holds dangling down), Lightning Crack (for a layback climbing position), the traditional climbing wall, Velcro wall, Twister and Rope Climb. Throw in some optional extras to the standard entrance price of a vertical slide where you are towed up to the top, let go and slip very quickly back down again and the Leap of Faith where you climb up a tower to a platform and leap off and try and grab either a boxing bag or a suspended bar.
I think we've found the coolest place for kids in Melbourne!
The lead-up to the climbing involves a 15 minute safety demonstration. Safety is a prime consideration for everyone and especially Mum and Dad who might be concerned for little Johnnie and Jemma. There is quite a lot to remember for a first time climber but the staff are on hand to help anyone with any doubts or queries. During the safety demonstration everyone puts on their harness and it is checked to ensure that it is fitted properly.
The climbs each have a belaying device at the top of the climb which consists of a rope with karabiner (a metal clip with a spring) at the end. There is always tension from the belaying device trying to pull the rope back to the top of the climb. Therefore when no-one is climbing a particular climb the karabiner is connected through a metal loop to the floor mat. When you want to climb you disconnect the karabiner from the floor mat and connect the karabiner to your harness. There are three separate actions required to unclip a karabiner and so a correctly connected karabiner is not going to become disconnected from your harness. Climbers under 12 years old need to get their karabiner connection checked by a parent before each climb. Human nature being what it is, most new climbers go up the wall a small distance and then slowly disengage from the wall to confirm in their own mind that the belay system actually works and slowly descends you to the floor.
Most climbers should be able to get to the top of many of the climbs. Even though the Centre was busy with parties we found that there were always free climbs available to try. One of the great features of the Centre is the auto-belay system which means you don't need a partner to climb.
There are two birthday rooms outside the climbing area which were a bit Spartan in their décor. A few epic rock climbing photos on the walls would help to create a more atmospheric environment. There is also a café and a small seating area (four tables). My advice to parents - don't sit there having a coffee, have a climb!
There is an undercover parking area next to the Centre and sufficient parking on the neighbouring street on weekends.
Four more climbs have recently been added: Orbital (a series of revolving wheels with hand and foot grips), Steelworks (a series of horizontal pipes), Dome Chimney (use the small round domes on the three surrounding walls to reach the top) and Circuit Breaker (chase the electrical currents all the way to the top)
Over 5 years: $18.50
5 years of age or under: $12.50
(a 1 hour session plus 15 min safety briefing and harness included)
Add on Extra Challenges:
Leap of Faith - Leap out into space after climbing up the pole and see if you can catch the trapeze or sumo bag: $5.00
Vertical Drop Slide - Free fall and drop down from 8m high (or lower if you prefer). You set the height - then let go: $4.50
Combo Price - Take on both challenges for $7.50
More to come ...