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Halliday Park, Mitcham
Splash parks in Melbourne, Australia

Budding young water engineers can head to Halliday Park in Mitcham to try the hand pump and the two operational mini sluice gates, which you can use to control the flow of the water. As a hydrologist and a dad I was very excited by the opportunity to teach my kids how to release water from a dam for downstream users. After a very short time, they were already teaching me with plenty of instructions such as "This is how you do it dad, like this." Halliday Park in Mitcham Above: The water pump, stream and sluice gates (Order this image)

The hand pump at the upstream end of the water feature is operated by rotating the circular disk anti-clockwise. It takes a reasonable degree of force, so will need to be operated by an adult or older child. From there the water splashes down onto the spongey playground surface and winds along a shallow channel to the first sluice gate.

The gates are easily operated by pre-schoolers by pulling up and then twisting to lock them in an open position. Then simply twist again to unlock and drop the gate once more.
The gates are quite light, but be careful to warn your child about jamming their fingers underneath the gates. After release from the first dam, the water winds around to a second sluice gate and from there down into a small drain about the size of a shower drain. Kids can sit in the water anywhere along the 10 metre stream. Halliday Park in Mitcham Above: The barbecue facilities at Halliday park (Order this image)

The park playground was rebuilt in 2014 and has a number of great features for kids of all ages. For babies and toddlers there is a mini trampoline built into the spongey floor of the playground that is a reasonably safe environment to practice some bouncing. For older kids there are two flying foxes and a large swinging cradle. For the adults there are four barbecues right next to the playground, so you can cook lunch while you watch your kids play.
There is also a hammock if one parent wants a nap while the other parent watches the kids. The only danger I found when I visited on a windy day in March was a hazard from above. At first I thought the sky was falling in, then I looked around accusingly to see which teenager was throwing things, but it turned out to be just some acorns falling from the tall, shady oak trees that are integrated into the playground.

There is a car park that you can access from Mitcham Road, however expect that to fill on weekends (when the nearby bowls are on) and at school home time when parents are picking up their kids from the adjacent primary school. Alternatively you can park in the surrounding streets. The playground is roughly in the middle of the park.
Other Information Before You Go:
Location: Mitcham Road, Mitcham, 25 km (around 30 min drive) east of the Melbourne CBD
Latitude:-37.810860 Longitude:145.191023
Getting there: By car, the park is located along Mitcham Rd between Maroondah Hwy (aka Whitehorse Rd) and Doncaster East Rd. Mitcham is easily accessible via the Eastern Fwy, Eastlink and Maroondah Hwy. Bus routes 270 and 907 run from Mitcham Railway Station to a stop at the Mitcham Bowls Club, which is right next to the park.
General facilities: Toilets, sheltered picnic tables, park benches, playground, drinking fountain, rubbish bins, electric barbecues, car park.

Baby change facilities: Yes, at the public toilets twenty metres north of the playground, including in the men's toilets.
Sun shade: No shade available at the water feature. Full shade available from oak trees covering parts of the playground.
Entrance fee: None
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: Wheelchair accessible paths and toilet. Water feature is wheelchair accessible.
Prohibitions: No smoking, dogs must be on a leash
Managing authority: City of Whitehorse
Nearby attractions: Schwerkolt Cottage in Deep Creek Road, 2 km to the east of Halliday Park, or Blackburn Lake, 4 km to the south-west.
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 location of the water feature at the park. If the map is not zoomed in locally, as can occur with some browsers, simply click or tap on "View Larger Map" below.
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