|The western suburbs of Melbourne has a wide range of awesome activities for kids and families. There's no reason not to be active in the west. We've taken all the work out of finding things to do for kids and families in the west with this guide. Enjoy all the west has to offer ...
Science is mega fun at Scienceworks in Newport which has hands-on exhibits, live demonstrations, tours, activities and shows. Extra attractions include the Planetarium and Lightning Show Room.
Fairy Park at Anakie is a world of fairy tales, legends, dragons, towering castles and an exciting Medieval playground. It's a great location for a family day out at a very reasonable cost.
Adventure Park Geelong at Wallington near Geelong has nine water rides including the Tornado, a family funnel water ride where you plunge a massive 7.5 story's into the eye of the storm. The park also has water splash parks for the younger kids and a range of non water activities such as a Ferris Wheel, two mini golf courses, archery and exciting rides for the younger members of the family. The park is open from the end of October to around mid April during peak periods.
You can see air missiles, a mirage jet, helicopter and a boat plane in addition to the standard planes at the The RAAF Museum in Point Cook Admission is free. An acrobatic plane flies at certain times during the week and it is also free to watch. You even get a chance to chat to the pilot afterwards.
Experience an African savannah adventure without leaving the west at Werribee Open Range Zoo in Werribee South. Not only will you get close to some of Africa’s most iconic animals, but also wildlife from the grasslands of Asia, North America and Australia. Highlights include a Safari tour, gorilla exhibit, pride of lions, Kubu River Hippos and Australian Grasslands Journey. Kids can cool off in the hippo water play area during warm weather (that's a separate area for kids, not with the actual hippos). Children (4-15 yrs) get free admission on weekends and holidays.
Animal Land Children’s Farm in Diggers Rest offers visitors an authentic, first-hand experience of a working farm. Visitors get to hold, pat, feed, ride and immerse themselves in farm life first-hand with activities such as a pony ride, tractor ride, animal nursery, hand milking a cow, collecting eggs and feeding the ducks on the pond.
There are plenty of fun playgrounds with exciting features across the western suburbs. The biggest playgrounds have plenty of facilities for picnics so you can make a day of it. The best playgrounds are:
Rockbank has become the playground capital of Melbourne, with four great playgrounds close together. The best is Frontier Park Playground which has some big towers which provide the launch place for three huge tunnel slides and a rope tunnel stretching between the towers high above the ground. There is also a water play area, basketball court and basic skate park. The next best is Woodlea Estate Playground which has a tower with huge twisting tunnel slide and other fun elements such as in-ground trampolines and table tennis table.
A large rope frame aeroplane with a tall control tower stationed at the end of the runway provides plenty of aviation play at the Braybrook Park Aeroplane Playground in Braybrook.
Crocodile Park Playground and Water Play Park in Point Cook is based on the Roald Dahl children’s story “The Enormous Crocodile” where a crocodile lives in a playground pretending to be a friendly see-saw before quickly gobbling children for dinner. We tested all the see-saws at the playground and passed then as crocodile free. However, it's worth being cautious before using them.
Tenterfield Park Playground in Burnside Heights has a "town" theme stacked full of interesting and colourful elements.
Buckingham Reserve Playground in Sunshine West has a huge tower with high twisting tunnel slide and a water play area where you can become acquainted with a water augur!
Harpley Playground in Werribee is a wonderful play space designed for all abilities access which has an Australian animal and bird theme. There are beautifully crafted sculptures of creatures for the kids to find across the playground. Keep an eye out for the huge Brolga - actually you won't be able to miss that.
A huge aeroplane control tower stands tall above the Mandrel Drive Playground in Williams Landing. Parachutes are not required since there is a fantastic very high curved tunnel slide.
The Bayview Park Pirate Playground in Point Cook has a big pirate ship set atop a hill. A huge frighteningly steep tunnel slide awaits anyone who is forced to walk the plank.
The western plains past volcanic activities are highlighted at the Isabella Williams Memorial Reserve Playground in Deer Park where huge volcanos provide the foundation for climbing walls, nets and long slides. Lava was never so much fun.
Gisborne Adventure Playground in Gisborne is a big adventure playground with a number of different areas including one with a Fire Brigade theme - aka fireman training area.
Hogans Road Playground in Hoppers Crossing has a huge structure with three high, metal, tunnel slides.
Brimbank Park Play Space in Keilor East has a beautifully crafted play space with natural elements most suited for younger kids but with a few exciting elements for the older kids.
The Maddingley Park Playground in Maddingley (near Bacchus Marsh) is a tangled mix of towers, swings, ladders, cubbies, walkways and slides. Explore away.
Navan Park Playground in Melton has a spectacular high tower with two massive tunnel slides and lots of other play equipment including some funky stuff. The playground is located next to a lovely lake with picnic facilities.
Errington Reserve Playground in St Albans is an All Abilities play area set beside a long, rocky (and dry) river which winds the entire length of the playground from the "mountain" to the flat area. Playing beside a river was never so much fun.
Galaxy Land Playground in Sunbury is a huge playground with colourful play equipment everywhere.
Presidents Park Playground in Wyndham Vale is a real adventure location and is located next to an innovative skate park.
The western suburbs caters for those with an urge to climb.
Funtopia Maribyrnong lets you choose from Playground World, which is an indoor play centre and Climbing World, which has 40 fun and interactive climbing walls ranging from beginner levels to climbing challenges fit for a pro.
Clip n Climb in Williamstown has a range of fun, colourful climbing walls which are self-belaying plus other scary activities such as the Leap of Faith. It could be as epic as the leap of faith in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
The Kemizo Family Entertainment Centre in Caroline Springs has a six metre high rock climbing wall with different skill levels. There is also Skywalk which features ten different obstacles over the length of the ropes course plus a laser tag arena.
More hardcore climbers are catered for by
Cliffhanger Climbing Gym in Altona North which has the tallest climbing walls in the Southern Hemisphere at 20 metres high. There is a large variety of climbing walls, and two dedicated bouldering areas.
Do you want to see some real rock climbers in action? Take a visit to Falcons Lookout at Werribee Gorge which is located just outside Melbourne
Kids love trains and they won't be disappointed in the west.
All aboard the Little Red Train which is a family friendly trackless train ride located within the Werribee Park precinct in Werribee South.
Ride behind steam or diesel locomotives around a scenic 1.5 km track at the Bulla Hill Railway in Bulla. Don't be too entranced by the view or you may miss spotting a dinosaur or two.
Altona Miniature Railway in Altona North runs scaled diesel and steam engines over a 1.2 km length track on one Sunday of each month.
The North Williamstown Railway Museum at Newport has a large collection of Victorian Railways steam locomotives on display. This place is heaven for any train enthusiast.
When the weather warms up, the best beaches to head to in the west are:
Williamstown Beach is a 550m long, wide sandy swimming beach which is patrolled by the Williamstown Swimming and Surf Life Saving Club with a wide range of facilities and services, including a non-boating area, cafes, public toilets, picnic facilities, playgrounds and rotunda.
Altona Beach is a 3.1 km long accessible beach with good facilities at the pier which is patrolled by the Altona Life Saving Club.
Pools and Water Play
The indoor aquatic centre with the best facilities is Aqua Pulse in Hoppers Crossing which has two giant water slides, PIPEline and World ALLEY, which can be used at no extra cost above the admission price, a water play area, a 50m swimming pool and a 25m learn to swim pool.
Other indoor pools in the area are Maribyrnong Aquatic Centre (indoor 50m pool and 12m warm water leisure pool which are both heated), Laverton Swim and Fitness Centre (heated 25 metre pool), Gisborne Aquatic Centre (25-metre 6 lane pool, play pool with a bubbling fountain, teaching pool and a warm water exercise pool)
The most fun outdoor pool is Lara Outdoor Swimming Pool which has a pirate themed water play area. Other seasonal outdoor pools are Bacchus Marsh Outdoor Swimming Pool (25 metre pool and toddlers pool), Werribee Outdoor Pool (outdoor heated, 50m lap pool, family friendly heated leisure pool which incorporates beach entry and water play features)
Aquatic Centres with indoor and outdoor facilities are Melton Waves Leisure Centre (indoor 25m pool and outdoor 50m heated pool), Sunshine Leisure Centre (seasonal heated 25 metre outdoor pool and childrens splash park plus indoor heated 25 metre lap pool, 20 metre program pool and a fun pool with beach entry and water features) and Sunbury Aquatic & Leisure Centre (heated 25m indoor pool and seasonal heated 50m outdoor pool).
Looking for a free water play park with lots of facilities? Then head to to 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. There are picnic facilities and a playground close by.
Sometimes, the kids might like to explore rockpools for creatures. Explore the Point Gellibrand Rockpools in Williamstown (after checking the tide times of course).
Bounce along to one of the trampoline centres in the west such as Airodrome Trampoline Park in Altona North which is a trampoline park and also has an inflatables obstacle area or Jump and Bounce Trampoline Park in Hoppers Crossing which has inter-linked trampolines and foam pit.
ThreeSixty Trampoline Park in Ravenhall has lots of different jumping areas, including free jump, dodgeball, wall running, slam dunk, high performance and a special area for kids under 110cm tall. There is also the option of seated or roaming virtual Reality Gaming.
Pick Your Own Fruit
Bacchus Marsh in the west is the seed of the pick-your-own delicious fruit area.
Explore the fields at Naturipe Fruits Farm in Bacchus Marsh and "pick-your-own" fresh strawberries, cherries, stone fruits and apples during the season. Choose from "pick-your-own" and "Walk ‘n Talk" visits at Paynes Orchards which is also in Bacchus Marsh.
The Strawberry Forest in Bacchus Marsh is pure genius. Strawberry plants grow vertically which makes it easy for all members of the family to pick their own scrumptious strawberries during the summer season.
Gaming can be an intense experience and a visit to Intencity in Sunshine offers the latest and greatest in games technology.
There seems to be a lot of hot air in the west, well at least enough to blow up inflatables at Inflatable World in Footscray and Tullamarine.
Play Centres are great when you need the kids to burn off some energy, especially when the weather is poor. The western suburbs are covered with a range of play centre options:
Altona North - The Kidz Play Shak and PlayHut Indoor Party & Play Centre.
Braybrook - Rabbit Hole Play Centre
Deer Park - Laughs Galore Indoor Playcentre and Café
Hoppers Crossing - Wonderland Indoor Children's Playcentre, Kidz Digz Indoor Play Centre & Café and Crocs Playcentre Hoppers Crossing
Keilor Park - Crocs Playcentre Keilor Park
Maribyrnong - Dizzys Playland and Cafe
Melton - Absolute Kaos Indoor Play Centre, Little Legs Play Centre and Mumbo Jumbo Children's Indoor Play Centre & Café.
Point Cook - Hijinx
Sunshine - The Jungle Children's Indoor Playcentre and Cafe
Taylors Lakes - Junglemania
Werribee - Bumble Beez Indoor Play Centre and Café
Williamstown - Tumbles Playhouse
Nature Parks and Walking Trails
The west has a range of nature reserves and places to wander. There are some nature gems in the west.
Serendip Sanctuary near Lara is a wildlife reserve with a range of native animals and birds. The wallaby enclosure and aviary provides a chance to get up close and personal to the animals and birds. If you have been eating your carrots, you might even be able to find a Tawny Frogmouth. This wonderful wildlife experience is free with no admission fees.
Another favourite is Newport Lakes Park in Newport which is a bushland oasis created from a former bluestone quarry. There is a self-guided nature trail around the lakes and the highlight is a stepping-stone crossing made of large bluestone and basalt rocks quarried from the site which provides an opportunity to get up close to various waterbirds.
The picturesque 4.4 km long Toolern Creek Trail near Melton runs through Toolern Creek Park amongst strands of Red Gum. If you are very lucky, a platypus might be spotted.
Our family is tone deaf but we still enjoy the Organ Pipes National Park in Keilor North. There are three short walks which pass the geological highlights of the park - Organ Pipes wall (a set of basalt columns formed by the cooling and cracking of molten lava), Rosette Rock and the Tessellated Pavement.
Brimbank Park in Keilor East features native grasslands, plains and Red Gums along the Maribyrnong River. There are nature walks of varying lengths, lovely Play Space and the Leaping Lizard Café offers refreshment after a walk.
Werribee Park in Werribee South is an oasis of activities. The property features hectares of lovely formal gardens, the Victoria State Rose Garden, a fun contemporary sculpture walk and an original farmyard to explore.
Pipemakers Park in Maribyrnong is a historic pipemaking industrial site which has been transformed into a park and wetlands. Historic bluestone factories have been recycled for community use. A multi-use trail leads 15 kilometres upstream to Brimbank Park and four kilometres downstream to the Stock Bridge at Kensington.
The 25 kilometre long shared walking / cycling Maribyrnong River Trail follows the Maribyrnong River banks and runs from Brimbank Park to Kensington. There are plenty of opportunities for picnics, canoeing and fishing.
Westgate Park is located under the spans of the Westgate Bridge in Port Melbourne and the salt and freshwater lakes which are ringed by walking paths attract a lot of birdlife. Sometimes the salt water lake turns bright pink from algae which is a beautiful sight, although a little whiffy on the nose.
Jawbone Flora and Fauna Reserve in Williamstown has an area of saltmarsh and mangroves which is an important habitat for waterbirds.
Skate and BMX Parks
The western suburbs is home to a few excellent indoor skate parks.
Do a fakie, carve or ollie at Rampfest Indoor Skatepark in Braybrook which has ramps, foam pit, resi and box jumps or Ring Of Fire Indoor Skatepark in Braybrook which has a two stories with a wooden bowl with pool coping and vert wall plus a mini ramp on one level and a street section on the other level.
The best outdoor skate parks in the west are Newport Skatepark (which has a kidney bowl), Wyndham Vale Skatepark (plaza style with very innovative elements), Deer Park Skatepark (combo bowl with some street elements), Gisborne Skatepark (plaza style), Melton Skatepark (half bowl, volcano and big half pipe), Point Cook Skatepark (big bowl) and Taylors Hill Skatepark (double bowl, open bowl and street section).
There are some excellent tracks for BMX riders including Altona Meadows BMX Track (extensive series of jumps which are split into novice, intermediate, advanced and super advanced levels), Sunbury BMX Racing Track, Wyndham Vale Skatepark (huge track with four long rows of jumps of various heights), Werribee BMX Racing Track (large area with plenty of jumps and curves) and Tullamarine BMX Track (large area which winds back and forth with four straights with jumps of various sizes and heights).
Even pooches can have a perfect time in the west. There are many fenced dog parks with our favourite being McIvor Reserve Fenced Dog Park in Yarraville which has some basic agility equipment within the fenced area and also a huge off leash area outside the fenced part.
Newport Lakes Park Dog Off Leash Area has large areas to run around and you can even explore the arboretum which is a collection of exotic plant species. I'm sure any dog would love an exotic plant species.
The Warmies Dog Off Leash Area is located next to the channel of water that runs from the Newport Power Station to the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay. Not only are you likely to meet other dogs but there is a good chance of seeing huge ships moving past on the river.
Dogs can enjoy a bound along the beach and a swim at the Altona Off Lead Dog Beach which is an off leash area all year round. During low tide the huge expanse of sand flats beckons for any dog with lots of energy.
Bustling markets are fun places for kids, especially when there is yummy food and entertainment laid on. Some of the more interesting family markets in the west are:
Williamstown Farmers Market which is held on the second and fourth Sunday of the month has plenty of stalls with fresh produce.
Altona Beach Market Melbourne’s only weekly street market and is held on Tuesday's. It features fresh food stalls and local arts and crafts.
Eynesbury Farmers Market is held on the fourth Sunday of each month. A wide range of producers, farmers, artisans and crafts people participate in the market which is held around the historic Eynesbury homestead. The bush band Drongo and the Crow always provide a great listen and interactive musical experience with children.
If you want to go BIG without extra fries then book a movie at the huge
Hoyts IMAX at Highpoint in Maribyrnong. You'll feel part of the movie with crystal clear digital images and laser aligned sound putting. Avoid the nature films featuring man-eating crocodiles though.
Immerse yourself in a film at one of the cinemas across the western suburbs. Reading Cinemas has well equipped cinemas at Melton and Sunbury. You won't have time to do any "reading" since the films will be too captivating.
Laser Tag and Paint Ball
Battle it out in the west with laser tag.
The AMF locations at Highpoint in Maribyrnong and Watergardens in Taylors Lakes have ten pin bowling and laser tag combat zone. Make sure you don't get bowled over by an opponent during combat.
The Oz Tenpin Point Cook location has an awesome laser tag arena featuring brand new state-of-the-art laser guns as well as bowling lanes.
The Strike Bowling Maribyrnong location has an immersive urban skirmish featuring elements such as a bus, nightclub, prison and more.
234 Fun Galore in Braybrook has a unique Star Wars themed Laser Tag Arena. The location has other attractions such as go-karts, dodgem cars, mini golf, mini bowling, sumo wrestling, pool tables, arcade machines, fuseball, indoor skate park, coin and video games and a café.
Drop into the jungle to face the opposition at the Wyncity Family Entertainment Centre Jungle Maze arena in Point Cook. There are interactive targets, special effects, light and sound. Wyncity also has a range of other attractions such as glow mini golf, tenpin bowling, arcade games, time freak and hit n' spin bumper cars.
Hot Shots Laser Skirmish is conducted on awesome outdoor paintball fields at Anakie. There are over 11 different playing fields.
Xtreme Paintball at Plumpton for children 7 and up uses special equipment for kids and has a number of specifically designed outdoor playing fields.
Art and Culture
Culture vultures can find something to keep them ooohing and aaahing in the west. Explore all the public art around Melton, Caroline Springs and Taylors Hill and Digger Rest. Drop into the CS Gallery in Melton or the Wyndham Art Gallery in Werribee and see free exhibits by up and coming artists.
Have a whale of a time on a Tour of Sea Shepherd Ships when they dock in Williamstown during the winter season (typically February to the end of August). You'll gain even greater respect for the hardships they endure to save our marine species.
The first port of call for all dinosaur hunters in the west should be the huge interactive dinosaur ‘Muttaburrasaurus’ at McNish Reserve in Yarraville. I was told it is a herbivore but my understanding of the food chain is a bit vague. So take reasonable care when moving close to its mouth.
Harness Racing is held at Tabcorp Park in Melton South every Friday night. The excitement, colour and action plus a little family wager is an intoxicating mix for kids. Admission is free.
Have a splurge and enjoy a scenic flight with Melton Air Services which is based at Melton airport.