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HOT: Sovereign Hill Play Space, Ballarat

HOT: Sovereign Hill Play Space, Ballarat

Ballarat’s classic destination Sovereign Hill is broadening its family appeal with a new $1.7 million play space.

sovereign hill play space

Four year old El Guapo and I visit on opening day, and the place is abuzz with excitement from the school kids bussed in to have the first run. As the ribbon is cut, the kids swarm the playground like prospectors on the loose! I wait with bated breath for El Guapo to be crushed in the rush.

And … nothing.

No chaos. No tears. No fights.

Well done Sovereign Hill on a well-designed playground – where a couple of bus-loads of kids can descend at once and no-one gets hurt.

The playground has several zones, so to speak, which give kids lots of room to move.

sovereign hill play space

There’s a two-storey ship (think Riverside Park in Aberfeldie), water play with a pump and some dam walls (think Royal Park Nature Play, but without the now-manky sand)…

sovereign hill play space

….a huge poppet-head slide (think Ron Barassi Snr Park Docklands)…

sovereign hill play space

….a stage coach, mini-village, and lots of other areas for climbing and exploring.

sovereign hill play space

In short: there’s heaps to do.

sovereign hill play space

This spread-outedness means that parents of small kids might have to abandon any concept of kicking back with a drink from the adjacent cafe.

El Guapo handles all the areas well, but smaller kids will need some help.sovereign hill play space

There are also some fall areas (up to about 1m) onto hard surfaces and a couple of rope contraptions with gaps big enough for a child to slip through – a drop of about 180cm onto rubber matting.

sovereign hill play space

There is also a lake nearby, and in one piece of….um…unusual design, the giant slide points straight at a rock?

This project has been 15 years in the making as Sovereign Hill seeks to broaden its offering and better cater for smaller kids. It’s a welcome move! As engaging as the rest of Sovereign Hill is, every parent knows that sometimes a playground break is needed.

The playground caters for a pretty wide range of ages and interests, making it great for families.

Some “themed” playgrounds draw a long bow incorporating the central ideas. As El Guapo and I wander around the rest of Sovereign Hill, we take many opportunities to discuss the links between the playground and the broader museum experience. The playground is a great way to reinforce some of the things school-ages kids might have learnt as they wandered through the township earlier in the day – without even realising it!

Click here for more things to do in Sovereign Hill, including the annual Winter Wonderlights

Click here for more things to do in Ballarat

Click here for more water play in Melbourne and Regional Victoria

 

HOT Tips:

  • Play Space is included in general admission;
  • Great for all ages, but toddlers still need supervision, The playground is spread out and there is a lake nearby;
  • water play is the pump style that runs down the hill with a few dams the kids can put in and out. No bathers required, but shoes might get wet;
  • Perfect spot to break up a big day at Sovereign Hill;
  • Right beside the cafe;
  • There is only limited shelter. Ballarat is known for its weather extremes, so be prepared with hat and sunscreen and an extra layer of clothing for wind/cold;
  • Toilets with change facilities available.

Simon Pollard

Simon is full-time father of two boys, aged 8 and 4, who lives in Melbourne’s inner west. He is a former journalist and editor across newspapers, magazines and digital media, and enjoys sport, travel, and chocolate - sometimes all at the same time.

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