Apex Park Playground | Watahuna Drive, Hawthorndene
by Catherine Leo
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Mitcham Hills parent who hasn’t spent hundreds of hours hanging around this leafy playground in Hawthorndene. Like me, you might have experienced going into a meditative state after the fifteenth minute of swinging your child as they happily overlook the area from a chained rubber seat!
Even on a hot day, the ample shade keeps equipment cool and with at least ten benches or seats scattered around the grass, you can park yourself for a full morning out with the kids entertained, or bring a rug for the beautiful grass.
Another of it’s major attractions is the proximity of Joan’s Pantry café, a mere 1 minute walk away to get your free trade coffee, or dine in for breakie or lunch. Along with an extensive kitchen garden out the back of the cafe that you’re welcome to explore, there is a fenced outside area for safe eating with the kids.
But back to the playground! With some take away coffees in hand, our kids (a 2 and a 4 year old) moved from corner to corner, from swings to slippery dips, rockers to a rocket, and plenty of climbs up and down and through various equipment.
The fireman’s pole is a treat but one of the spots to watch that toddlers won’t fall, however with a little lift across my little lad enjoyed it immensely. Below it is a pretend shop, complete with credit card machine for great pretend play opportunities.
The swing bridge is fun but requires a hand hold for the little ones.
Once up the ladder of the twirly slippery dip, our kids giggled their way down, getting hilarious static hair and moving slow enough that it felt very easy for the toddler to experience the height of the equipment and be brave to do it over and over.
A dedicated little person corner has a popular 4 seater flower table to share a snack, and a smaller slippery dip and rockers. The height of the steps up to the platform might limit walking under twos.
There is an undercover BBQ area that is popular for parties and I’ve seen Dads on ‘stake out’ duty there from sunrise to nab the spot. The public toilets are well kept and clean.
It’s a shame that scooters and bikes aren’t officially allowed in the playground, given there are tracks throughout. Residents of some of the nearby hilly suburbs like Eden Hills are already a bit limited for safe bike-riding opportunities so it would be a perfect place to learn to ride, along with the adjacent tennis courts, but signage states otherwise. I could understand school aged children might cause some hazards but toddlers on a 3-wheeler would love it. You regularly see kids riding or scootering so it’s obviously not strictly policed and I’ve never noticed any major issues because of it.
Fortunately there is a leafy bike and walking track right next to the park that is worth exploring. Other spaces such as the Hawthorndene Oval, Hawthorndene BMX Facility and tennis courts provide more activity options nearby. Bring some balls for a kick on the oval, or your tennis racquets.
While this park doesn’t have some of the innovative pieces of equipment we are seeing throughout the new parks like Bonython Park or Hazelwood Park might offer, it is fully fenced, has lots of space, awesome shade, spread out equipment and of course that café nearby. All you could want for your little ones, with early school aged children pretty happy to climb and run here too.
For other great playgrounds for little ones see our post The Best Playgrounds for Toddlers.
What: APEX Park Hawthorndene | A Foothills Favourite
When: Any time
Where: Watahuna Drive, Hawthorndene | Map
Who: Great for toddlers/Under 5s & older children too
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