|As the weather warms up a combination of playground and beach is an ideal combination. BYO bucket, spade, sunscreen, hat, water and a passion for sand. Some of the best playgrounds which are located next to a beach (or positioned in a sea of sand) are:
Plum Garland Memorial Playground, Beaconsfield Parade, Albert Park
The playground is located next to South Melbourne / Middle Park Beach and seems to have everything for younger kids except Captain Feathersword, Dorothy and Henry the Octopus. It has shade sails over the western part and the surface is a giant sandpit. There is a multi-level structure in a sandpit for hauling up sand in a scoop, swings without safety chain, digger in a sandpit, water play area where you can pump water into a big tank, rope climbing frame and tiny toddler swing.
Outside the shaded area is a curved slide coming down from a boat structure, small dual slides, various sandpits, tunnel, small grassy picnic area, big sit-on carousel for lots of kids, birds nest swing, one picnic table and some relaxing curved seats looking out to the bay. It is landscaped throughout to give a sandy, beachy natural feel.
There is a water tap and the playground is fully fenced. There are toilets at the life saving club 100m away and a kiosk. Volleyball nets are on the beach next to the playground area. Paid Parking from 8 am - 6 pm.
Carrum Foreshore, Old Post Office Lane, Carrum
A beautifully crafted beachside playground located next to the Carrum Surf Life Saving Club and Carrum Beach. The play area, which is a huge sandpit, has a seaside theme with a wharf protruding out from the decking. There is a lighthouse with a rigid frame ladder and rope ladder providing access to the top of the lighthouse where you can use the telescope to look across the bay. The Wave Rider speedboat on rockers has seats for two drivers and two potentially sea-sick passengers (depending on how heavy the sea is) as it speeds across the sandy expanse.
A smallish structure has a curved slide and plenty of scope to have fun scooping up sand with the buckets on a rope and then depositing them in a variety of sand dispensing machines. Two diggers also offer opportunities for future construction workers to practice (let's hope the minerals boom is still continuing when they grow up so they can move to WA and earn a fortune). There is also a big horizontal arrangement of disks connected by ropes (begging for a game of "Who is King of the Castle"), a birds nest swing, spinning cup with hand wheel, standard swing without safety chain, swing with harness and a beautiful simple labyrinth decorated with sea creatures where you can seek out the treasure trove.
The sandy playground area is surrounded by paths and decking, relaxing blue and white high backed deck chairs, bench seating, water taps, toilets and two open sided shelters with a BBQ and table each. The playground has a lovely white picket fence along the street but there is open access to the beach via the Surf Life Saving Club area. I could imagine that parking would be difficult when it is busy.
Peter Scullin Reserve, Centre Way, Mordialloc
"Ahoy, me hearty!", "Shiver me timbers!" and all those other pirate sayings. A real pirate ship with sails billowing in the wind (shade sails actually). The huge ship has plenty to keep any landlubber kid occupied for ages including two large and one small tunnel slides, two wave slides, spiral slide, tunnels, lots of inclined climbing mats, fireman's pole, tic-tac-toe and abacus. There is a circular flying fox which is a bit scary but lots of fun.
Another structure which is more like a tug with slide, climbing mat, fireman's pole, curved ladder and shop front. Two swings including one with a harness, two person pommel bounce and see-saw. The whole playground has a soft spongy base.
There are unshaded seats and tables, BBQ and water tap. Be warned that there is ticketed parking. Located near the Mordialloc foreshore and close to the Windows on the Bay restaurant and the Mordialloc Pier.
Sorrento Historic Park, Point Nepean Road, Sorrento
Very large wooden Adventure playground which is fenced in except for some entry points. There is a separate minnows area for younger kids. Plenty of ramps, steps, towers, traverses, flying fox, monkey bars, monkey rungs, musical instruments, very big wave slide, spiral slide, metal chute slide, fireman's pole, tunnels and sandpits.
The playground is in a beautifully maintained park with shaded and unshaded tables, BBQ, shelters, water tap and toilets. Lovely views across the Bay and huge grassy areas with paths which lead down to Sorrento Pier and the Sorrento Beach. A real joy for kids and parents.
Frankston Regional Foreshore Playground, Frankston
Large playground based on the theme of sand-castles emerging from, and collapsing into the beach - although the round structures with pointed roofs reminded me of a Dogon village in Mali.
The Playground includes separate toddler, junior and senior level play equipment. Includes a large tunnel slide, two other wave slides, lots of ramps and walkways, chain ladders, few large chain bridges, large sandpit, flying foxes, monkey bars, large wooden bow of boat, horizontal bars and lots of swings. Many areas are under sail cloth. Liberty swing.
There are BBQs and tables but a lot of the seating is not in the shade. It is so spread out that we had trouble keeping an eye on the children. 2 adults and 2 kids = just manageable but 1 adult and 2 kids = trouble. Parking was a bit of a nightmare on the weekend. The playground is near the Frankston Foreshore and Frankston Pier.
Torquay Play Space, Cnr Esplanade and Zeally Bay Road, Torquay
A huge Play Space which has a sand base and lots of elevated walkways with ramps, ladders, slides, fireman's pole, climbing wall, rope ladder and spiral ladder. In the middle are a series of wooden piers and swings. On one side is an area with mechanical diggers and a springer. There is a large wooden structure which represents part of a ship with climbing wall side, fireman's pole, rope climbing net and a big wave slide. Next to this is a lower wooden structure with slide, inclined walkway, climbing net and steps.
There is a Liberty swing, BBQs, shelters, shaded and unshaded tables and seats and toilets. There are plenty of trees to climb. The playground covers a large area and since all areas are not fenced, some vigilance is required. Limited grassy area. It is a short walk down to the Torquay beach.
Victory Park, Camp Street, Chelsea
A large interesting playground located within ten metres of the Chelsea beach. A lighthouse with telescope and binoculars on the top level stands tall over the playground area. Use the steps which wind upwards inside the lighthouse to reach the top or alternatively cross a rigid balance walkway from a structure which has a high wave slide, fireman's pole, climbing mat, "tree ladder" and normal ladder.
There is also a lower structure with a boat shape which has ramp access from a path, walkway, ladders, small slides, tic-tac-toe, steering wheel, tunnel, fireman's pole and spiral ladder.
There is a huge sandpit with a wooden castle. The castle structure has a slide, chain ladder, steps, walkway, ladders and various levels and cubby areas. The sandpit also contains two mechanical diggers and two swings with safety chains. There are two other swings in the playground including one with a harness.
The area has a number of shelters with tables, unshaded and shaded tables and seats, BBQs, water tap and toilets. It is well planned to enable access for all-abilities. Paid parking near the playground area but some free parking areas close by. The area is reasonably well protected by a fence but it is close to the water, so you will need to be vigilant if your kids tend to wander off and are attracted to the water.
Rye's Up! Community Playground, Point Nepean Rd, Rye
Located east of the Rye Pier, a fantastic community playground was built by the community in the space of five days in October 2012. The wooden structure is in the shape of a huge ship. The towering bow has levels leading up to a deck and a wave slide. The stern area has a tunnel and spiral slide while the mid-section has a range of equipment such as monkey bars, balance beam, monkey rungs and balance beam. The playground is fenced with an entrance area with a sea-horse motif. The whole playground has a nautical theme befitting the area and there are crabs, dolphins, fish, seaweed, starfish, divers and other sea creatures adorning the walls. An area has a range of swings including a birds nest swing.
Apart from the main ship structure there is a smaller structure with a lighthouse which has a wide slide, walkway and tunnel.
There is a shelter with BBQs, shelter with seats, unshaded tables and grassy area, water tap and toilets. There is also the evil of paid parking.
Fort Gellibrand Playground, Battery Rd, Williamstown
There is no sand but a good location for exploring the nearby rockpools. A quite extensive wooden structure which includes high twin slides, high scrambling wall, tunnel, shop front, rope bridge, balance beam, monkey bars, climbing wall, walkway, fireman's pole, tic-tac-toe, steering wheel, clock, abacus, steps, disks on a vertical pole, curved slide and hanging disks. Also springer, telescope to look over the sea, swings and three dolphins to ride on. The whole area is set on a nice spongy base.
There are unshaded seats, water tap, BBQs and many unshaded tables.
Eastern Beach Reserve, Eastern Beach, Geelong
Large playground next to the Swimming Enclosure at Eastern Beach which is partially under shade sails. The structure has a spiral and two wave slides, steps, tic-tac-toe, climbing wall, various panels, steps, hanging chains to traverse, balance beam, block steps, shop front and climbing mat. There is also the Geelong Flier, a large red train, dolphin swimming through the wood chips and tortoise crawling across the wood chips.
Another area with a circle which is set at an angle and turns around, fish springer and two stand-on spinners. Also an area with six swings (two with harness) and a family sized see-saw.
Lots of shaded tables, unshaded seats, toilets and grassy area. There is even a hill which kids slide down on pieces
Logan Reserve, Pier Street, Altona
Located next to Altona beach and pier is a wooden structure with dual wave slides, fireman's pole, climbing wall, vertical rope climbing frame, clock, tic-tac-toe, hanging disks, monkey rungs, steps, spiral ladder, maze panel, speak and listen system and curved slide. Also fish and boat springers and four swings.
There is a shelter with seats, plenty of shaded and unshaded tables and seats scattered about, grassy area with BBQs, toilets and water tap.
The following playgrounds are set in a sea of sand (think Sahara desert size) but not actually located next to a beach
Coogoorah Park, River Reserve Rd, Anglesea
Can you find the treasure chest in the sand beside the shipwreck Inverlochy? The wreck is composed of the bow with a wave slide, fireman's pole, ladder, climbing walls which slope outwards for a overhanging climbing experience, chain ladder and cubby area underneath. The stern part has a wave slide, rope ladder, balance beam and steps. There is also crows nest in the middle. The whole area is set in a sea of sand and also includes swings, springer and mechanical digger. Beware of the sharks which patrol the sandy area.
There are shelters with table and BBQ, unshaded tables, BBQ, unshaded seats and toilets. There is a more modern plastic structure about 50m away with a curved slide, straight slide, inclined walkway, binoculars and abacus. The playground is located next to a wetlands area and trails and bridges lead to this area.
Sheepwash Road, Barwon Heads
A very unusual playground design with a number of large separate wooden structures. There is a huge wooden bow of a boat set in a sea of sand - the only thing missing is Leonardo DiCaprio. Another two level wooden structure has ramps, levels, steps, lookout and spiral slide. A third wooden structure has seats, roof and wave slide. A separate structure has a wave slide, rope ladder, steering wheel, boat panel, steps, ladder with horizontal semi-circle steps, disks on a vertical pole, walkway, hanging disks and shop front.
There is a good sized wooden maze, good grassy area, shelters with BBQs and tables, shaded and unshaded tables, unshaded seats and toilets.
Whites Beach, The Esplanade, Torquay
Open and spacious playground with a sand base with a big flying fox with disk seat, huge rope climbing structure in a sandpit, birds nest swing, big wooden turtle with eggs in a sandpit and a labyrinth. This is a beautifully created playground and all the equipment relates to indigenous themes. For example, the rope climbing frame represents the fishing net from the Wadawurring, the birds nest swing is the nest of Bunjil the wedge Tailed Eagle and the flying fox is Waa the Crow. There are many information posts about topics such canoes, turtle, echidna, yam daisy, digging stick, sun, emu, paperbark, spear, earth, story telling, crayfish and snake - an indigenous history lesson in a play environment. There are also unshaded tables and seats and a water tap plus beautiful mosaics.
Sadler Reserve, Esplanade, Williamstown
Located across the road from Williamstown Beach. A good range of equipment including a wooden structure has dual large slides, monkey rungs, vertical spiders web, hanging disks, disks on a vertical pole, balance beam, ladder, tic-tac-toe, shop front, scrambling wall, telescope and clock. Also see-saw, swings, horizontal bars and two springers plus a smaller, lower structure with sloping scrambling wall, abacus, curved ladder, steps, shop front and two slides. Table with possible shade. Paid parking. Grrr.
Dendy St Park, Dendy Street, Brighton East
Are we at Brighton Beach yet? Not quite but a good imitation. Huge sandpit with shade covers. Multi-compartment cubby, springers, climbing areas, big boat, structure with scoops for picking up sand and swings. Entirely fenced in with child proof gate. Tables with shade, BBQ and water tap. The playground is best suited to younger kids. BYO bucket and spade.
The playground is located in Dendy Park which has drinking fountains, dog off leash area, goal posts, practice nets, tennis/handball practice wall and toilets.