Central Gardens in Hawthorn is otherwise known as the ‘Rocket Park’ because the first thing you notice is the tall rocket climbing frame gracing the small playground.
It’s a charming play area which has the usual selection of equipment – swings, slides, a seesaw and climbing structures – as well as more unusual items like the aforementioned rocket climbing frame and a miniature horse carousel.
The setting is very sweet. Central Gardens is a manicured, landscaped park in the vein of formal Victorian strolling gardens and there are park benches, a picnic table and neat lawns near the equipment where you can have lay out a picnic or just rest in the shade (the playground is completely unshaded). In other parts of the garden there are barbecue and toilet facilities. The regular rumble of the nearby train line will delight Thomas the Tank Engine lovers like Lady AB.
Lady AB’s favourite games were the rocking bike frame and hand-pushed carousel which allows you to go as fast or slow you like depending on the age and confidence of your child. We didn’t use the climbing frame at all as access to the slides and upper levels required longer, stronger limbs and climbing skills – I think it would have been better with steps so that little people could get more use out of it. For the same reason she didn’t use the rocket as she wasn’t able to climb the ladder to reach even the lowest level slide.
While we stayed for about an hour I wouldn’t say that Central Gardens is a playground that’s worth travelling for (such as Hays Paddock or Wombat Bend) but if you’re in the neighbourhood it’s a good option. If you’re driving make sure you park on Henry Street and not William Street as the playground is right next to the Henry Street entrance.