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A Sky Walk play structure
Photograph: Nick Dent

The best playgrounds in Brisbane

Got active kids? Burn up some energy and encourage healthy fun at one of the best playgrounds in Brisbane's many parks

Nick Dent
Edited by
Nick Dent
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Brisbane is the town where the trees are as elaborate and weird as any play equipment ever dreamed up by an industrial designer. Those strangler figs are bizarre – and are even incorporated as a feature of some of the best children's playgrounds in town. 

Water play, lengthy tube slides and flying foxes are other playground highlights that will have parents cursing the fact they aren't kids anymore. Just try and resist getting in on the fun with your little charges at some of these brilliant parks. And
 who's to say your local playground won't end up immortalised in an episode of Bluey, which is made in Brisbane and takes inspiration from its real-life locations?  

Here are some other great things to do in Brisbane. 

Endless fun for little ones

  • Kids
  • Playgrounds
  • Milton

Frew Park seem to have sprung from the imagination of a mad genius with an endless supply of concrete, steel, rubber and chutzpah. It occupies the park next to the Roy Emerson Tennis Centre in Milton, which itself was once the Milton Tennis Centre, scene of major tournaments and rock concerts by anyone from the Rolling Stones to David Cassidy. In acknowledgement of this heritage the playground takes the form of a sports grandstand, radically deconstructed. Kids can scramble up the structure via ropes, steel poles and handles to slide back down via super-wide, super-steep slide. Separate sections are joined by tubes of steel mesh and cargo rope. Check out the crazy hanging net next to a trompe-l'oeil mural; the dizzyingly high 'Commentary Box' overlooking the park; and the fast, twisting tube slide taking you all the way back down again. Robot-like bronze statues celebrating tennis and other sports add the overall mood of futurism. An absolute must.

  • Kids
  • Playgrounds
  • Calamvale - Stretton

The centrepiece of Calamvale District Park is a 7.5 metre high steel-and-rope structure known as the Sky Walk. Four enclosed 'cabins' are joined by fully enclosed net bridges. You have to ascend the tube ladder to get up there, or else clamber up a scramble net. At the end of the four bridges is a gleaming 11-metre long slide that offers an exhilarating ride back to earth. The Sky Walk is not the only kid magnet here. A twisting Möbius strip festooned with rock climbing footholds presents hours of fun, and there's also a spinning flat disk resembling a vinyl record player, and pentagon swings. And what destination playground is complete these days without a flying fox? The double zipline here is at least 50m in length, the longest we've ever seen in a public playground. Wheeee!

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  • Parks and gardens
  • New Farm

Located on a bank of the Brisbane River, this former racecourse-turned-park now attracts more than 18,000 visitors each week all coming to pedal, play, relax and socialise. The children's playground is grouped around some enormous fig trees with a boardwalk maze. Keep an eye on your nippers as there are plenty of places to hide among the tangled roots and crowds of happy families. Grab a coffee from the kiosk and let them go wild.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Murarrie

The shady children's playground is the highlight of this large riverside reserve and makes Colmslie Beach Reserve a go-to for parents with antsy kids. The gigantic concrete fish poking out of the sandpit is the first thing that will catch your eye – little Jonahs can climb inside its gaping mouth and crawl out again through the gills. There's also a mock shipwreck that allows kids to make music by hitting the pedals. An extensive climbing maze combines rock climbing, monkey bars, stepping stones and slides – the floor-is-lava games will go on for hours here. Test your skills on the hilly scooter track, or get zooming on the zipline over by the big blue octopus. They also have pentagon swings. The toilet bock is close by in case of, well, you know.    

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  • Parks and gardens
  • Hamilton

This is one of those newer playgrounds that's worth a journey just to check it out. The playground is large, fully shaded and has a seemingly unique design incorporating repurposed yellow shipping containers. A huge rubberised hill covered in hemispheres is designed for little ones to scramble up; three wide yellow tunnels penetrate the hill, and there are wide slides on either end. The shipping containers form a scrambling zone with cargo ropes and huge voice pipes, and there's a large tube slide up one end. There are swings as well, and an avenue of water sprinklers to run through on hot days. Bring a towel – your charges will find it hard to resist a cool shower after a bit of climbing and sliding.  

  • Kids
  • Playgrounds
  • Carindale

This excellent playground exists virtually in the shadow of the vast Carindale Shopping Centre, but you’d swear you were out in the wilderness here. The theme here is space exploration, with the centrepiece being an elaborate rocket-ship slide modelled on the moon lander. It has bells and whistles and switches and gadgets that make noise and light up. A moon buggy sits in the middle of the sandpit, and there’s a spinning thing shaped like a satellite as well as space-themed puzzles to solve. Little ones will love making small steps and giant leaps as they go from planet to planet in the solar system of spheres sticking out of the ground. Toilets are just up the hill at the end of a pathway, and there is a large penned area nearby for canine exercise too.      

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  • Kids
  • Playgrounds
  • Taigum - Fitzgibbon

This large playground in Brisbane’s north has something quite unusual: a (fictitious) backstory. Plaques claim that the park exists over the site of a prehistoric habitat for a race of sentient marsupial mice that was discovered in 1989. The plaques contain a code that purports to be the language of these creatures, and kids (should they be so motivated) can use the code to decipher messages hidden around the playground. But it’s likely that they will be too busy gallivanting around the series of little wooden pavilions with brown corrugated iron roofs that are joined by boardwalks over a large sandpit. There are accessible swings and a wheelchair-accessible roundabout, several slides and a couple of large insect creatures with tall spines to climb on. A 360-degree tyre swing offers plenty of vertiginous fun for one or two littlies at a time. 

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Brisbane City

Roma Street Parkland has no competition – it is hands down the best place to head in Brisbane if you want to enjoy some outside time. The expansive park is a horticultural gem and welcoming community space, featuring spectacular flower gardens, multiple children's playgrounds, accessible facilities, lakes, cafés and even an amphitheatre. Pay a gold coin and take a ride on the Parkland Explorer, a little train that does a 20-minute loop of the Parkland. The original playground has plenty of shade and fun obstacles while the Children's Garden Playground has slides, a rope bridge, a spinning ride and walls to climb. The old cliché "hours of fun" literally applies here.

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  • Kids
  • Playgrounds

The large fenced-off playground within Underwood Park has a strong fairytale theme. The large wooden castle at its centre has tall towers, rope bridges and lookouts. The park has a rotating scramble net and a zipline too, but perhaps the most peculiar feature here is the monorail. Yes, monorail! It's pedal powered and goes in a large circle surrounding a bizarre airborne see-saw (also pedal powered). Unsurprisingly, Funderwood Hollow is birthday party central: no less than seven children's parties were taking place on the Sunday when Time Out visited, but rest assured there's room enough for everyone here.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Camp Hill

What’s better than a flying fox? How about a double flying fox, so you can have flying fox races? The dual zipline is just one of the highlights of the playground up on Whites Hill, a sprawling wonderland dotted with native trees and with a spectacular forest backdrop. The council has erected several shade sails across the playground’s various discrete zones. Scramble up the ropes to the pirate crow’s nest, then zoom down the steep slide. Run like a guinea pig on the large running wheel, or judder in the fun sway chairs. The sandpit is equipped with sand diggers, and a musical zone lets kids beat a drum or hit a xylophone. Other features include a toilet block, an accessible swing, barbecues and sign language guides.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Calamvale - Stretton

Who knew learning about nature could be like a ghost train ride? The top drawcard of the Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre is a dark room where you can sit and experience a night sky, a thunderstorm and finally a glorious sunrise. Lights flash revealing possums, lizards, and owls around you. Sound effects complete the experience. It's part of a modern pavilion filled with interactive displays exploring the entire local ecosystem. This is a premium free experience for kids and it adjoins a Nature Play playground where all the equipment has been made from materials found in nature such as tree trunks, rocks, water and sand. You could easily spend a couple of hours here without even venturing into the bush, but if you do, there a several easy bushwalks to undertake.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Seventeen Mile Rocks - Sinnamon Park

This park, located on the Brisbane River in Seventeen Mile Rocks, is popular with families, garden enthusiasts and locals. With more than 8,000m2 of open grassed space and a half-sized basketball court, it’s also regularly used by local fitness trainers and boot camps. Make sure you visit the community garden. Beyond the towering papaya tree at the entrance you find a bunch of vibrant planter boxes that are cared for by the local community. Back outside you’ll find lots of areas for kids to play in, with an extensive playground complete with climbing nets, a flying fox and a water play area. Industrial artefacts and sculptures are also scattered throughout the park, nodding to its history as a commercial farm and industrial area.

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