Ruffey Lake Park is a 68 hectare expanse of green spanning Doncaster and Templestowe in Melbourne’s east and it features not just one but THREE playgrounds.
The best playground is accessed from the Eastern border of Ruffey Lake Park, from the unofficial main entrance on Victoria Street. Look out for the (play) snakes!
This timber and steel adventure playground is tiered on the side of a hill and provides lots of equipment over different levels as well as lovely views over Ruffey Creek valley and the parkland.
A lot of the equipment is quite high and requires climbing so kids who are 3+ years will probably get the best use of it.
Some of the most distinctive elements include a large metal tower with a spiral staircase (which is caged in, so no chance of falling out!) which is designed to represent the tower that became the icon of Doncaster Road in the early 1900s….
….a loooong metal slide whooshing down the hill….
….two flying foxes, one with full seated harness…
….a huge multi-layered sandpit with sand play tables….
….all set amongst landscaping that references the area’s natural flora and fauna.
There are also lots of swings including a tyre swing, monkey bars, a geometric rock-climbing sculpture, musical elements, fireman poles, rope and chain ladders and tunnels. The latest playground upgrade includes a playful rock feature with clay pebbles and decorative stones creatively designed by local school children and a nature-inspired play area with a water pump and river bed channel with water play gates as well as a giant gecko sculptural feature.
The other main playground is accessed from The Boulevarde, on the Western side of Ruffey Lake.
The playground contains mostly traditional play equipment and is a bit ‘plastic fantastic’ – but it does have the benefit of being sheltered almost completely with shade sails.
There are some interesting elements, including a soft fall mound with a triple slide, a wooden ship’s bow and a water pump (which wasn’t working on our visit). All in all this playground is probably more suited for very little kids compared to the Victoria St playground.
The smallest playground is at Church Road North and consists of a rock labyrinth, see-saw, swing, junior see-saw and a cubby in a natural setting. Ruffey Lake Park’s disc golf course is also nearby.
All three playground have toilets, shade of varying degrees, water taps, electric barbecues and picnic areas and shelters. There’s plenty of free parking at all three playgrounds and note that they’re not really walking distance of each other if you have kids so you will need to drive or bike between them.
There’s no cafe or food kiosks in the park but everybody seems to come prepared with picnics or barbecues anyway. On weekends and school holidays you might find the Little Mouse Teahouse, a vintage caravan selling hot drinks and sweet treats. You can even book the Little Mouse Teahouse for a private tea party in the park!
There is so much to do at Ruffey Lake Park that you could easily spend hours there. Take a picnic, your walking shoes or your bikes and visit all three playgrounds as well as the rolling parklands for a great day out.
- Suitable for toddlers (particularly The Boulevarde playground)
- Suitable for older kids (particularly Victoria Street Adventure Playground);
- Victoria Street playground has water play;
- All three playgrounds have shade, water taps, electric BBQs, picnic areas and shelters;
- Free parking;
- Three playgrounds not really walking distance to each other;
- No cafe on site but on weekends and school holidays you might find the Little Mouse Teahouse, a vintage caravan selling hot drinks and sweet treats;
- Gate closing times Daylight saving – 10.00pm, otherwise – 8.00pm; and
- The park hosts community events such as the The Iranian Fire Festival in March and the annual Manningham Carols by Candlelight.