Time spent in nature is a magical experience. My most favourite childhood memories are made of sticky mud cakes, freshly picked daisy chains, and wriggly tadpoles in deep, yellow buckets. I remember bright summer days that stretched on forever, the smell of cut grass mixed with sunshine and strawberries. We used to walk for miles in the countryside, climb fences, roll down hills… and then we’d do it over again.
But that was forty years ago. Today, children are lucky to spend an average of 30 minutes playing freely outside each day, and life’s great outdoor adventure is being rapidly replaced by a schedule, a screen and a sofa. It’s not easy to swim against the tide of technology. We have less open green space, less time, less freedom. Schedules are busy, parents are busy, children are busy; and often families are too tired after work, school, gym or martial arts to venture outdoors.
What if I told you there’s a way to incorporate nature play into our modern lives? And it’s more than likely just a short drive away? Accessible, unique, and stimulating, nature-based fun. Here is a list of our 7 most favourite nature playgrounds, each one awaiting your visit and overflowing with magic and memories for the making.
PERTH NATURE PLAYGROUNDS: NORTH OF THE RIVER
This park is a favourite for me and my kids. It’s set right next to the ocean, and although small, it’s packed full of open-ended play experiences, which will inspire pretend play and lots of fun. A mast pole looks out over the water, a pirate ship sails through the sand, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can even find a bandicoot hiding under the castle bridge.
PERTH NATURE PLAYGROUNDS: CENTRAL
This award-winning playground is surrounded by mature shady trees, wetland wildlife, and natural rocky landforms. It’s huge with plenty to explore including tree rope swings, balancing logs, sand, water play and cubby house making. Your kids won’t want to leave this highly sensory experience.
This unique and imaginative play space is a perfect outlet for creative kids and includes a puppet theatre, a tight rope walk, and stilts. Centrally located behind the Subiaco Arts Centre, its near to shops and cafes, but this playground still has plenty of nature-inspired play to offer.
More suitable for older kids who enjoy climbing, swinging, and hanging from ropes, most activities in this nature play area are above ground. Kids will enjoy developing their risk-taking skills, growing in self-confidence and resilience along the way.
Rio Tinto Naturescape, Kings Park
Celebrating the West Australian environment, this nature-themed playground will take your children along winding tree-lined boardwalks, through waterholes, over rocks and logs, and right up into the very treetops. There are plenty of games along the way to keep your child engaged, and lots of learning too.
PERTH NATURE PLAYGROUNDS: SOUTH OF THE RIVER
Kwinana Adventure Park, Walgreen Crescent, Calista
This park is an outdoor adventure from start to finish. From a tree maze to a sand conveyor belt, flying foxes to gigantic nest swings, waterspouts, cubbies and climbing nets, there are activities for all ages and new friendships await.
PERTH NATURE PLAYGROUNDS: THE HILLS
John Forrest National Park, Park Road, Hovea
Nature play at its very best, this simple yet stimulating playground blends in perfectly with the beauty of its location. While kangaroos watch on from native bushland, your children will get dirty and wet, balancing and stepping over logs, splashing in the creek, and collecting sand, leaves and rocks for closer inspection under the magnifying glasses set in posts.
Taking a first step to visit your local nature playground is the beginning of a journey of great rewards. Enjoy those magical moments.
Feature Image credit: Braithwaite Park Nature Play