Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sedgeley Park, Alderley/Newmarket (AKA New Park)

There is a small park to the very side of Sedgeley Park - it's run down, broken in parts and I thought was on the verge of becoming dangerous. Not so long ago caution tape was put around many of its features and the playground was officially off limits. Within weeks, the foundations of a brand new park - over the other side of the area - began to take shape. A brand new park! Exciting. We drove past ever day wondering what it would feature, what would be the main structure, how would the formation take place. Finally last week it was done. We hit it hard the next day. Map is here. You'll know it as the park behind the dog off leash park and right next to Newmarket Pool.

This new park has the best and the worst of modern park features. My family think that it perhaps has one of the best attractions ever at a park - high praise! The spinning climbing cone combines everything that we love - climbing, spinning and the thrill of possible danger (although there really is none unless you make it go at super duper speeds - which of course we did). Cody climbed inside and held on for dear life. Adam did a few rotations spinning it around and then jumped inside, shifting the center of the weight and making it spin at alarmingly fast speeds. I was surprised the day didn't end in vomiting actually. It was super fun and I think they spent 90% of the time at this park doing that. Would it have been as fun if Cody didn't have her dad with her making it go outrageously fast? Perhaps not as she had some trouble making the weight of the cone shift to move it around. But it was fun to climb around and inside of too.

The worst feature would be the rocking boat. I really hope this does not become the standard of "wow" for new parks. It's pointless for small parks like this. You can't shift it without a parent and only doing it with one kid is really not all that enjoyable for anyone. There is one at New Farm Park but given the volume of kids there its slightly more enjoyable (I think this is an attraction which requires sharing of joy - doing it by yourself is not really great but having a gaggle of kids to share the experience with makes it infinitely more enjoyable). I'm just not a fan of this feature.

The main tower feature is built for bigger kids - 4 and over I'd say. You have to climb to get up to the slide - and its quite a tall slide too. There is a chain wall, a shaped pole and a climbing wall to help you get up and even our spectacular climber Cody had some troubles the first go.

On the high side of the playground is the more traditional aspects, although the flash new design is anything but traditional. I was really impressed with the see-saw design and think it's a really good looking piece for the park. And of course the mega climbing frame - which seems to come standard with most new parks to attract the older kids - and the swings (the swing seat was a different design to what we are used to also - its more of a firmer material which holds you in better).

We stopped at the local store on the way and bought sandwich fixings to make up a picnic lunch and had a nice time completely undisturbed. I stated at the time that no matter how many times we visit this park I don't think we are ever going to see another person playing there - it just feels really isolated in a way!

If this is the new park design then I think we are in for some great parks in the future. A rating of 8.


Age Groups: Suits the older crowd. Cody (at 4) is very happy here but I don't think there will be much for Mika when she starts walking.
Kid Friendliness: no one else around
Parent Friendliness: as above
Shadiness: i was worried about this - we went at noon and it was pretty hot - but within half an hour the shade of the nearby pine trees started to cover the park
Tricked Out: nah, not at all really (the spinning cone was amazing though)
Picnic/BBQ: there is one BBQ and one undercover table
Shabbiness: the park was one day old so it was clean
Toilets: there is a toilet block nearby. I was expecting the worst but it was surprisingly okay.
Hovering Required: No, the park is small
Bring Yr Bike: No
Crowded: no
Wow: no wow just a solid park

Wynnum Esplanade and Wading Pool

Oh my goodness. What a day! It was the stuff of little kids dreams but also the stuff of childhood memories all wrapped into one. I love that we've created a memory for Cody out of something which was a fond memory for us as children. Perhaps she will pass this on to her kids. I'm talking about a playground, a beach, $3 serve of chips, sand and new friends. In Brisbane, this can only mean one thing - Wynnum Esplanade. Map is here. I took a gazillion photos - be warned.

I don't want to be too prescriptive on this site and tell you how to experience parks - only you and your kids can do that. However I'd like to share our experiences if they extend beyond a playground and we get it right and maybe inspire you to use the playground visit as a base to really have fun with your kids. Certainly I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know here though. If you go to the beach its quite the standard to have chips wrapped up in paper and maybe an ice cream. Though I fear that Cody may want to nickname this "chips and ice cream park"...

The whole day was a blast - and I say "day" because we managed to spend HOURS upon hours there. We got an amazing park in the car park - which really makes a difference if you are juggling two kids let's face it - and the second Cody saw the park she could barely contain herself. It's an impressive sight! We went in winter when all the water features were closed down so I can only imagine how rad it would look in the warmer months with water jutting out of the whales and the wading pool in full operation.

Walking into the park, the first thing which strikes is the tree completely full of corellas. This is an amazing sight (and we were fortunate enough to see them leave the tree and circle the beach) and surprisingly unobtrusive (they were neither noisy nor pooey). The second observation was that we were going to be getting into the car with sand coming out of all sorts of places. The whole park is built upon sand and so walking through it to chase your child is somewhat comical.

There were literally too many features in this park to list - rocking ship like structures, a baby slide, spinning tops, climbing frames - this list could go on and on and on so I'll let the pictures show you the full scope. Our highlights were - surprise surprise - the climbing frame. Now I know that Cody has a well documented penchant for the climbing frame, however this one was undeniably spectacular. It was hilarious to watch - she was trying to leave it to go somewhere else but she got two meters away and was pulled back by an invisible string which had her like a yo-yo.

The playground was amazing - I'll leave it at that. It was a 40 minute drive for us when you take into account having to go through the city but it was well worth it for the playground alone.

Best part of my day was when Mika discovered the sand. In the seconds in between me trying to wrestle her hand (filled with sand) away from her mouth that is. She had a look of absolute joy on her face. This girl is going to rock the playgrounds in a few months time for sure!

We managed to get away from the playground to eat our $3 serve of chips, which we scoffed on a picnic bench whilst Cody's eye wandered beachward. Chips inside, there was no stopping her. The beach here is just beautiful. Clean sand, clear water, ripples which run across the sand and tickle their feet as they run splashing across the shore. It is picturesque. It took some convincing to get her to walk down the 80-odd year old pier - she just didn't want to leave the sand. The walk was wonderful and I couldn't help thinking this would be a fabulous thing to do at night (sans kids!).

After the pier and the beach we headed to the other park - only ten meters away from the main park but obviously the original park which was put in place many years before the redevelopment. This was a fun old school park and a great contrast to the new park. It was steel and slides and monkey bars to the colour and wood of the other park. There was of course not a soul playing there!

A trip back across the road to the shop for ice cream (and Cody had never had a commercial type ice cream like a Billabong before so she was much taken with their sickly sweet dripping sugar) to polish off the storybook day. All up we got two serves of chips, two drinks and three ice creams for under $15 and spent about four hours of absolute fun there. It was a fabulous day but also really inexpensive so I can see us doing it time and time again.

I think the playground was awesome and the day was next to perfect. Easily a 9.5 rating.


Age Groups: Everyone. I was super impressed with the little kids area too - the slide was about a meter long and super cute. In summer the older kids will love the water features.
Kid Friendliness: There were too many kids and too much to do to even stop for a second and talk to someone else.
Parent Friendliness: See above.
Shadiness: trees cover the park
Tricked Out: yeah, so many surprises. I will report back in summer, however I can see that it would be super spectacular when summer rolls around.
Picnic/BBQ: major BBQ area in the middle of the park - which was a nice touch to have it centralised with the park surrounding it. I doubt you'd EVER get this spot on a weekend though. Off to the side there were tons of tables and chairs.
Shabbiness: really clean
Toilets: lots of toilets in a block off to the side. Clean too!
Hovering Required: Yeah, I'd say kids would be pretty easy to lose sight of in this park
Bring Yr Bike: The esplanade is set up for bikes, however I'd suggest maybe more experienced riders as there is lots of stray walkers wandering across the paths
Crowded: we went on a school day during the day and it was quite packed (but handled it okay). I can't imagine the chaos that would be a weekend or a school holiday day.
Wow: buckets and spades of it (geddit).

Wittonga Park, Hilder Road, The Gap

If you are following our trails you'd know we now live in the Alderley/Enoggera/Newmarket area however we did a brief stint in The Gap for a while. Wittonga Park was our local park at The Gap and signals an interesting time of learning in Cody's life (from 2 to 3) and thus worthy of a revisit from time to time. Map is here.

A simple park with a main play structure surrounded by a few swings and climbing frames, this park is typical of local parks at The Gap - brightly coloured plastic features, installed in the last ten or so years, overshadowed by amazing surrounding park or bushlands. During our stint in The Gap we scoured the place and this came up as the best of the bunch (yes, better than the dual park next to The Gap Village which we never actually warmed to).

This is where Cody learned to climb across the floating poles (see image below as I know they have a proper name and I just don't know it) and the climbing frame and grew a love of scaling large walls and other structures. This is the park which really fostered and developed the features she has come to love in playgrounds. Do your kids have a place like this?

Clientele wise, we've always met lovely people at this park - which I found strange because we were very much the odd ones out at The Gap so it was good fortune to find kindred among the playground goers. The kids were lovely, typically older kids from the Hilder Road School just across the road.

To the side of the park is a little bridge which goes across Fish Creek and leads to the massive oval which has a bike path around its edge. The bike path is often filled with walkers, kids learning biking and dog after dog after dog. At the very back of the oval is the most wondrous thing - a bmx track. Can you believe it!?! Composed of dirt tracks and dirt mounds of varying degrees, I'm so impressed that amidst the skate parks (which have unfortunately gone the way of the razor scooter) there is a place for kids to do BMX tricks.

All in all, not a bad little park for a local. it deserves at least a 6 rating for the playground, but higher if you are bringing the BMX.


Age Groups: The playground has tried to cater to all ages with the toddler friendly aspects but also adding some elements which require the skill set of a slightly older kid.
Kid Friendliness: The kids have always been cool here.
Parent Friendliness: Ditto - the parents have always been cool here.
Shadiness: there is a sail cover in place playground is shaded by a canopy of trees
Tricked Out: not at all.
Picnic/BBQ: not a picnic or BBQ park - there is one table only
Shabbiness: gets a bit of graffiti every now and then but overall pretty clean
Toilets: there is a toilet block in the vacinity
Hovering Required: It's small enough that you don't need to hover - this said, if they start running towards Hilder Road there are lots of cars and some big drains - but you'd have to seriously have taken your eyes off them for a full minute for them to get that far
Bring Yr Bike: The playground itself is not good but its surrounded by a bike path
Crowded: not super crowded but definitely popular
Wow: none at all (unless you head over the bridge and walk to the BMX track!)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blog and Web

Yesterday, whilst playing at a park (which we had traveled about half hour to play at), I received a lovely email from a person I work with asking if this blog was mine. It had been sent to her by a colleague in a different part of the organisation and she put two and two together based on the child being called Cody and the abundance of photographs (if you haven't seen them already, please check out my photo website). This made my day. I get lots of emails and messages from friends saying they've forwarded on the blog address and I can see my little hit counter going up and up but this was tangible evidence that people (who are not obligated to like it - as my friends most definitely are!) are reading and enjoying what we do. In a way, its a moot point as WE enjoy what we do and it stretches us further, makes us explore, allows us to look at the world with different eyes and analyse and discuss but its always nice to know that someone else out there is getting value from it.

So I ask you, readers who are out there lurking (and I can see my stats so I know you are there!), leave me a comment. Let me know if you agree with our take on a park, let us know if you have different favourite bits or other parks which you like to haunt. Let me know what your children like to do - are they swing fiends or climbing freaks? Perhaps you can barely wrestle them off the slide. Is there a park I should be going to? Encourage me to make that leap and head southside... I'd love to hear from you and know you are out there so please leave me a comment (and let me know the address of your blog too!).

So thanks Anne-Maree and friend for making my day (which was only later topped by young Mika - five months old yesterday - discovering a sandpit for the first time - oh the hilarity).

PS. and yes the other point of this post was to shamelessly promote my photo site. I finally found time to put on the finishing touches and get it live last week. The Itchy Eyes.