Monday, May 23, 2011

Enchanted Forest (AKA Broken Arm Place)

Many thanks to everyone who has been sharing this blog address with your friends or on forums - its much welcomed spreading of the word and I'm getting great feedback that people are finding this useful and are visiting some of the parks we suggest! This is awesome. At the end of the day, its a fun thing for CK and I to do - we chat about the park, its design, the features we want to highlight - but I'm just thrilled that other people are loving it too. Please spread the word if you can - the encouragement is really motivating us to do more and more!

Indeed today's post is inspired by a comment on a friend's Facebook where she kindly posted the link. There was a very good suggestion of the Enchanted Forest in Ashgrove and it had been an age since we'd visited this park so I was happy to get a reminder - thank you Michelle.

Officially this is called Dorrington Park (but I don't know one person who refers to it as that!). Map is here.

Firstly, let me clear up the name which CK has given it - I would hate anyone to think that such a sweet and magical park is dangerous. Fact is, CK's good friend E broke her arm here. Kids break their arms at all sorts of places - in parks, in backyards, in lounge rooms, at supermarkets, on bikes, in cars, running, climbing, you name it - kids break their arms. I don't believe this park is any more dangerous than any other public space you take your child to. But, CK being three, she has event associations with places and since her friend broke her arm here the park has been dubbed Broken Arm Place (and I particularly like her use of "place" instead of "park" - it really makes it sound quite fancy!).

The Enchanted Forest is the Northside Park that people talk in length about. If you are talking about playgrounds then someone is bound to ask if you've been here. It really is quite magical and a stunning park. I visited it this time wondering if it was all hype and it was going to live up to the enormous props which everyone gives it or if it had just become a legend which got slightly embellished along the way making an okay park sound better than it actually was. I walked away thinking it indeed was magical.

The concept of the park is simple - its filled with enchantment. There are toadstools, magic shops and enough fairy and spooky inspired designs to keep both the fairy lovers and the eye of newt lovers happy. The perimeter is lined with artwork which reflects the theme - both this and the story which is featured in the audio toadstool section are inspired by the ideas and tales of year three students which the artists worked with.

Given that CK is heavily (read obsessively) engrossed in the Enid Blyton Faraway Tree series at the moment all her play at home is about enchanted faraway lands so this park really fits with a theme she is exploring.

There are lots of different areas in this park and lots of climbing, sliding, imaginative play and interactivity. In that sense, this park combines all that I've talked of so far in this blog - its perhaps the only park to capture everything in one. The play area is set under a beautiful canopy of trees (I think this is the key to a successful park in Brisbane) and is set to the side of expansive ovals for further play. It appears to be the go to park for parties - on the very rainy day we visited there were two parties in occurrence - an Indiana Jones party and a fairy party - this in itself shows you the flexibility of interpretation of the park. Unfortunately there is only one covered picnic area with a BBQ - the other picnic table is uncovered and has no cooking facilities -so if you are thinking of hosting a party here I think you have to be there at the crack of dawn to stake your claim to a table.

The above hill with the ropes and slide was easily CK's favourite area of the park. She was climbing the tallest mountain and then racing down the big hill to the bottom. The three different shopfronts were also great for imaginative play - they are all magic based but could easily be adaptable to whatever concept the child could come up with for the area. The whole park is pretty run down - the frog is peeling, one of the peek through pictures was shattered - but it holds its own and the condition isn't detrimental (or dangerous) in any way.

Its fairly hidden down a side road which could easily be missed from the main street. The remnants of balloons show you the history this park has as a party park - I really think this is the forte of the park so its a shame that there are not more facilities to accommodate multiple groups.

There is a coffee shop about two minutes walk away - I always find the access to coffee quite a critical factor in deciding which park to visit early on the weekend mornings...

CK rates this park at 9 and I would give it 9 too. Its very much on par with Kalinga Park as the best in Brisbane.


Age Groups: It has enough diversity to cater for all ages.
Kid Friendliness: very friendly - CK was playing with a six year old boy this last time and normally (at this age) there's quite the distinction where a 6 year old boy would be loath to hang out with a three year old girl - but everyone gets along!
Parent Friendliness: really good parents and a nice variety of parents too (straight shooting, alterna parents)
Shadiness: wonderful canopy of trees
Tricked Out: its packed with lots of old and new school features
Picnic/BBQ: just the one BBQ and shaded pergola
Shabbiness: its not dirty, its not vandalised, its just neglected.
Toilets: the toilets are okay and not too dirty. they are all super sized so you can take a pram in with you.
Hovering Required: No you can see everywhere in the park from wherever you stand.
Bring Yr Bike: No, there are paths but they are generally covered in bark - and I don't think you need any extra attractions here
Crowded: not super crowded but definitely popular
Wow: as I've said above, its the stuff of urban legend status

1 comment:

  1. Hi, thanks for your great reviews. You might also try Woolcock Park, Red Hill on a Sat morning. It's a lovely park with bike tracks joined to other parks. Party favourite for the locals.