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Ron Barassi Snr Park, Docklands
Splash parks in Melbourne, Australia

This playground in Melbourne's Docklands has a water play area that features two mushroom springs, a traditional hand pump and a sandy, cobbled bluestone artificial stream. Water enters the stream when kids operate the water springs and hand pump, and trickles down past several elevated blocks and stepping stones towards a small sandy marsh around 20 metres downstream. Playing with the mushroom water springs at Ron Barassi Snr Park, Docklands Above: Playing with the mushroom water springs next to the bluestone cobbled stream (Order this image)

For me, this playground typefies everything Docklands. It's shiny and new, and the panoramic views of the cityscape are amazing, including a view of the Melbourne Star. However, it's terribly windswept, noisy and somewhat desolate, particularly as it is situated at the western-most end of Docklands, directly under the Bolte Bridge. There is a constant drone of vehicles overhead, including a noisy click-clack as each one rolls over the small gap between one section of bridge and the next. This is coupled with the reversing beep-beeps of trucks and forklifts in the docks only about 200 metres away on the other side of Moonee Ponds Creek.

On my visit, the playground was empty, and the only people around were office workers from Docklands going for a silent lunchtime jog. After having visited, I think the best times to visit would be when there is no wind forecast, on a Sunday morning or evening when there might be less overhead traffic, and near dawn or dusk (if the kids are awake at that time) to see the city change colour. The Bluestone Water Channel under the Bridge at Ron Barassi Snr Park in Docklands Above: The bluestone water channel under the bridge at Ron Barassi Snr Park in Docklands (Order this image)

There was one other small hazard in the artificial stream, where small pointy rocks from the gravel mound nearby had been moved or washed into the stream. These little rocks can be painful if you step on them the wrong way in bare feet, so I suggest you bring sandals or crocs for your kids when playing in this water feature.

Aside from the water feature, the main attractions in the playground are the two tall, enclosed steel slides and the surrounding large sandpit. Kids will need to climb tall vertical ladders with relatively large spacing between the rungs to reach the top of the slide, so it is only suitable for proficient climbers. The sandpit has lots of cast iron spades, chains, pulleys and pipes that you probably need a mathematics degree to fully work out how to move the sand from one place to another. For those supervising kids, I liked the large white sandbags that form a barrier around the sandpit and were also comfortable to sit on. If you are planning a picnic, there are two barbecues in front of the pavillion next to (but hidden from) the playground. Lastly, there is next to no shade here at the moment, so bring plenty of sun protection.
Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Western end of Docklands Drive, Docklands, 2 km (approx. 10 min. drive) west of the Melbourne CBD
Latitude:-37.817290 Longitude:144.933623
Getting there: By public transport, trams 35, 70 and 86 run from the city to Docklands Drive at Waterfront City. Tram 70 runs along Flinders St, tram 35 does a loop of the city along Flinders St, Spring St and Latrobe St, whilst tram 86 runs along Bourke St and is your best option if you are coming from Southern Cross Station. From the Waterfront City stop, it is a 500 metre walk west to the park. I walked from Southern Cross Station, which is also possible if you can push a pram that far. By bicycle, there is a bike track along Moonee Ponds Creek that runs along the back of the playground, which also connects to the Capital City Trail. If you are driving, 3 hour street parking was available around the park at the time of my visit.
General facilities: Public toilets, barbecues, playground, park benches, picnic tables, rubbish bins, drinking fountain.
Baby change facilities: Yes, in the toilets in the small pavillion next to the playground.
Sun shade: Shade is very limited, but will improve as the newly planted trees grow.
Entrance fee: None

Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: Wheelchair accessible paths and toilets. The water play area has cobblestones at various heights, so may not be fully navigable in a wheelchair.
Prohibitions: No dogs, no smoking. The adjacent oval has a dogs on-lead and off-lead area.
Accommodation Options: If you are visiting Melbourne and want to stay near this water feature, you can try the following options in Docklands. All distances below are by road, not as the crow flies.
Nearby accommodation:Distance from park:
Luxury Townhouse 500 m
Four Points Sheraton 500 m
Luxury Penthouse 600 m
Booking your accommodation via these links may result in a commission (at no additional cost to the price of the linked item) to swimmingholeheaven.com that helps maintain and enhance this website.
Managing authority: City of Melbourne
Nearby attractions: The ice skating rink and fairground at Waterfront City. For a better water play area nearby, head to Royal Park Nature Play.
Before you head out, make sure to read the water safety information and check with the managing authority for any current change of conditions.
Locality Map:
The marker indicates the approximate location of the playground. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can occur with some browsers, simply click or tap on "View Larger Map" below.
View Larger Map
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