Saturday, June 18, 2011

Downey Park/Northey Street

Northey Street Park was one of the first parks we started visiting with any regularity. It was not right next to our home (so it was 'special' enough to drive to) and it just was made for the young folk just finding their legs. On the weekends it was a stop past when we went to the Northey Street markets and Cody and her dad would often bike ride on the Kelvin Grove/Windsor bike paths over to here. It certainly is a special place for us. Map can be found here.

I should just say that you should NEVER attempt to visit this park on a Saturday. It's nestled between the hockey and netball grounds and thus is over run with literally hundreds of sporty pre-teens and their sporty vehicle driving parents (no parking for miles on the weekend!). During the week it plays host to quite a few playgroups, mothers groups and a place for field trips for some special needs kids from a school nearby.

What do we love about this park? Well firstly its always clean and the bark which covers the ground of the park is always fresh looking. Cody is a shoes off the second she sees a park kind of girl and - maybe I've watched too many movies or am being overly paranoid - but I do worry about what lies beneath that first layer of bark at parks. This park doesn't make me want to run ahead and scour the park for glass, needles, condoms or whatever other object of danger which I have conjured up in my paranoid mind. It's clean, its localised, its not near a road or a river - its safe.

I guess that's what I love about this park, but asking the expert - what Cody loves about this park - is that its served her so well from her early beginnings that she's formed a very fond association with it. The playground is really very good for small children. The little frame with the slide/walkways/cubby underneath has wide steps, well protected sides, easy accessibility for parents. It's made for kids which still need their hands held when they climb stairs yet it has appeal enough that Cody (now nearly four) enjoys climbing and running across it. On this visit, the cubby was an ice cream shop and the bark was the ice cream. Perhaps I should call this "wishful thinking park".

The base of the park also has a great see saw, swings and a climbing wall and climbing rings. What makes it unique is the 'spinny thing'. I have no idea what they are called but it seats four kids and you spin a wheel in the middle and it spins and spins until a kid screams STOP as they are about to throw up. Surprisingly, this is not Cody's favourite thing here and she rarely goes near it. What draws Cody the now big-little-kid is the newly installed climbing frame.

The climbing frame has automatically ensured that its rating from Cody is high. She loves to climb! This one is extra special as it is TWO of the usual climbing frames which are connected by a rope bridge. The frame is high, requires skills to navigate beyond the first level and is a great addition to the park to ensure the older kids are kept happy too.

What this park excels at is flexibility - the surrounding grounds are great for ballsports and biking. There is ALWAYS a crew of children on the bitumen of the nearby basketball courts learning to ride their bikes. Its wonderful to see the bike excitement on the courts - be it first time on a new bike or first time with the training wheels off - its an area of such excitement and ambition.

Further beyond the playground and the courts are the actual bike paths (which run from Kelvin Grove to Northey Street) and the creek which runs along beside the RBWH. The bike paths are lined with the exercise equipment, streams of runners and a truck load of dogs (there is an off leash area behind the netball courts). Unless its a Sunday and the markets are on, don't even think of being able to find a coffee around here so make sure to come when you are naturally perky!

Cody is in danger of outgrowing this park sometime soon but for the moment it keeps her most happy. This park would be rated a nice solid 7.5 if you are looking at the park for Cody now, but if you are taking very small kids then I'd suggest you really can't beat this park for suitability.


Age Groups: Suits the 8 month - three year crowd best of all but the climbing frame and the bitumen give it a bit of older appeal also.
Kid Friendliness: give the clientele is so young, its really parallel play at this stage rather than anyone seriously forming an organised game or involving each other.
Parent Friendliness: all the parents have been lovely that I've met here.
Shadiness: the playground is shaded by a canopy of trees
Tricked Out: nah, not at all really
Picnic/BBQ: there is one BBQ and one undercover table
Shabbiness: lovely and clean
Toilets: given that on the weekend this place turns into a sports hell, the toilet block is as functional as a school toilet block. Its built for the masses, for frequent use and sturdiness.
Hovering Required: No, the park is small
Bring Yr Bike: Yes for sure.
Crowded: not super crowded but definitely popular
Wow: no wow just a solid park

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