Sometimes all you want is to slip away from the world. To find a moment of beauty, tranquillity and green. You’re not alone. That urge is one of the reasons we have public parks. As placemaking expert and 202020 Vision advocate Kylie Legge observed, inspiration is one of five factors that can really connect you to a space. Another reason is play – we all want to seek out spaces that give us the freedom to let go and have fun. These parks may differ in size – but they all offer beauty, moments of peace or joyful adventures, regardless of age. Take a visit to the one nearest you sometime soon, and feel your mood lift immediately.
This urban oasis is one of the world's largest inner-city parks and also has some of the best views in Perth. The park's rich Indigenous history can be explored through heritage tours that showcase bush food and medicine, the Aboriginal Art Gallery, the stone Beedawong Amphitheatre and the Boodja Gnarning Walk. For thousands of years, Wadjuk people have been visiting the highest point of the park – known as Mooro Katta or Kaarta Gar-up – while the area below (Goonininup) was an important place for ceremonies, traditional stories and community gatherings.
In the deep south of Canberra, there’s a park so abundant in its provision of adrenaline, you’ll be surprised there’s no entry fee. The playground has a tree house, huge swings, two long-distance flying foxes, an intricate climbing net and a towering steel slippery slide ready to swing, propel and soar kids every day. There’s also a miniature rock-climbing wall, practice netball rings and a bike track.
This living green museum is home to thousands of species of flora, tranquil gardens and beautiful plant displays. Inside their enveloping green Rainforest area, you’ll find the largest collection of Australian native rainforest trees in the world, and a geodesic dome filled with exotic and tropical flowers and plants. The sound of running water is never far away, thanks to waterfall features and a large ornamental lagoon.
This Brisbane park is huge – spanning over 73 hectares, and it’s the playgrounds that are the biggest drawcard here. There are five dotted across the park, but the Kidspace Playground is one of the most impressive – the huge timber fort has bridges, ladders, stairs and rope nets throughout and is totally shaded. Nearby this gorgeous wooden structure you’ll find everything from flat grassy plains to swampy marshes – all teaming with birdlife.
The secret maybe well and truly out about this hidden garden with perfect views of Sydney Harbour, but it really is a heartwarming story and a space worth sharing. When Wendy Whiteley lost her husband, Australian artist Brett Whiteley, in 1992, she funnelled her love and grief into transforming a disused, derelict train yard space. The garden has been nurtured by Whiteley and two gardeners over the past 25 years. Alongside the natural beauty of curling ferns, flowering lilies and towering shady figs, you’ll also find bronze busts, engraved stone tablets, wooden carvings and other sculptures donated by local artists.
If there’s anywhere you can escape the madness of the city CBD without actually leaving it, the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne is the place. Located on the city’s fringe, this expansive garden is home to a cool 8,500 plant species, zen lakes and lush lawns. The camellia collection is one of the world’s best with more than 950 different types; Fern Gully recreates a cool forest, which showcases many fern species; and the Tropical Glasshouse is filled with colourful flowers and palms.
This prehistoric Perth park has a big emphasis on sensory exploration and creativity. Mini-paleontologists will get a kick out of the sandpit, with dino bones hidden underneath, ready for children to dig and discover. There’s a musical play area with steel bongos and a water play park with water pumps and fountains. Bigger kids will also love the huge hammock swing: suspended from an eight-metre high frame, the large disk can swing in any direction.
Honouring Canberra’s Japanese sister city of Nara, this park located on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin celebrates the tranquillity of nature. A Japanese theme permeates the park with large wooden gates, flowering blush pink cherry blossoms and meticulous landscaping. Central to the park is the eight-metre tall pagoda, crafted by Japanese sculptor Shinki Kato. Annually the park is transformed with more than 2,000 flickering candles for the Canberra Nara Candle Festival.
This parklet located on Melbourne’s NewQuay Promenade smashes together landscaping and public art with great success. A collaboration between artist and professor Callum Morton, McBridge Charles Ryan Architects, Oculus Landscape Architects, City of Melbourne and Places Victoria, the sculpture park is the Docklands’ biggest public artwork. Taking inspiration from Melbourne’s CBD and architectural monuments, the sculptures are solid concrete interpretations of Melbourne buildings. Kids can clamber and climb up the colourful sculptures and they also provide shade.
Mimicking the feel of a private farm estate, replete with swampy marshes, rolling hills, wooden creek bridges and stringy bark gum trees, Lizard Log Park is a park within the great Western Sydney Parklands. A sprawling playground leverages the natural landscape, fostering a sense of play in kids big and small with balancing beams, a climbing wall, flying foxes and a play deck. You’ll also find scenic walking tracks and winding bike paths, which connect Lizard Log up with the neighbouring Calmsley Hill City Farm, Moonride Lookout and Sugarloaf Ridge.