Ankle Deep Water, Melbourne
Shallow Water Play Areas for Kids

Keep the kids entertained with these fun water play areas in and around Melbourne, Australia. Guaranteed to excite and hopefully wear the little tackers out with heaps of running, jumping, scooping and splashing. Ankle Deep Water is my collection of shallow water play areas for children that I collated incidentally while compiling the Guide to Freshwater Swimming Holes for grown ups.
Select Your Water Play Area:
Click or tap on the title of each shallow water play area below to find out how to get there and what to expect, or alternatively search by map. These areas have been divided into free splash parks and splash pads, shallow entry beaches and shallow entry lakes. I have visited and enjoyed all of these sites with my own children.

Free Water Play Areas, Splash Parks and Splash Pads:
A little splash pad on the beach foreshore within a beach inspired playground. There's lots of sand and inquisitive sparrows to play with, as well as a view of the beach. Here's how to find the partly hidden button to turn it on… A wide artificial stream flows over raised, non-slip concrete blocks in this designated wading area within the gardens. Make sure you stay between the flags. After your dip, enjoy a picnic in one of the architect designed gardens or wander through the extensive themed plantings… This playground typifies everything Docklands: New and shiny, with amazing city views, but windswept, desolate and noisy. Here is my suggestion for when to visit to enhance the positives and minimise the negatives at this water feature and playground…
A twenty metre long constructed concrete and stone meandering stream provides plenty of opportunity for balancing, rock hopping and waltzing through the gently flowing water. This quiet suburban park in the backstreets of Elsternwick also contains a playground and a long slide built on a hill… Booran Reserve in Glenhuntly is a water-inspired playground on the site of a former Melbourne Water service reservoir. The water features include a giant frog, artificial stream, hand pumps and screws, splash pad, mini-aqueducts and a wet sandpit… A pebble laden artificial stream with two branches running through the eucalypt forest at the botanic gardens. It can be a bit uneven under foot, so this one probably works best with gumboots. The small but welcoming botanic gardens has a couple of lush lawns for picnics… Several water features operate here including the spiral fountain, the beehive fountain and a meandering stream. This place gets very busy on hot days, so arrive early to secure your patch of lawn… A hand pump feeds two hand operated sluice gates for budding young dam engineers in this innovative playground that also includes flying foxes and a giant cradle swing. Watch out for falling acorns though, particularly if you've recently read Chicken Little… Located next to the Royal Children's Hospital in Royal Park, this adventure playground houses a spacious splash pad and an artificial stream that is powered by kids pressing down on some very cool steel mushroom pumps, with the water spilling into a sandpit downstream… Water spurts out of a metal crocodile's mouth into a shallow trough, which spills into a meandering stream complete with giant stepping stones. The stream then continues on to a splash pad around the corner. If you come to this park to stay dry on the adjacent play equipment - forget it, it's not going to happen, so admit defeat before you leave home and at least pack a towel… Seville Water Play was the first community splash park of its kind in Melbourne. It has some of the most powerful water jets around in this innovative re-purposed public space in the Yarra Valley. The park now includes a brand new playground next door… Wombat Bend playground in Lower Templestowe has a long mini-aqueduct that empties into a huge sandpit. As a playground, Wombat Bend is one of the best in Melbourne, but its water feature, as designed, performs poorly. Here's my advice on how to turn this water feature back into the fun water play activity that it was intended to be… A large interactive splash park with heaps of bubblers, jets, pumps and tanks to play in, that was designed to attract young families to a new housing estate. It's the biggest free splash park that I've seen so far in Melbourne…
Water Play Areas, Splash Parks and Splash Pads With Entry Fees:
If you are planning to visit Werribee Open Range Zoo, bring your kid's water play gear and head to Hippo Beach. It's a shaded splash pad next to the hippopotamus enclosure, complete with life-size hippo sculptures. The splash pad only operates on hot days in summer, but the adjacent hand operated water pump and aqeducts can be used all year round…
Shallow Entry Beaches:
The nearby headland has created a very shallow beach with firm sand that is probably the closest toddler friendly beach to the city. It's also dog friendly, so if you have kids and dogs in tow, this is the beach for you… As the name suggests, this beach is well frequented by mums (and dads) bringing young kids for a play in the water. Amazing views of the harbour from above and a tranquil beach down below that is well protected from the waves and wind… When the tide is out there is lots to explore in the shallow pools that are left behind in the sandy hollows. Bring a bucket to collect some shells or build a sandcastle, then follow it up with a coffee in the upmarket beachside cafe…

If you are looking for a day trip further afield than Melbourne, check out shallow water play in regional Victoria.

Before you head out, make sure to read the water safety information. In addition to your own independent planning, risk management and safety measures, I suggest that if you are visiting these spots, bring a swimming nappy (if your child is not yet toilet trained), bathers, sunscreen, a hat, a towell, a pair of crocs or sandals for your kid's feet, a set of warm clothes for them to change into, a bucket and spade, and any floating toys (like rubber ducks) that you want. Pack a pair of bathers and sandals for yourself so you can supervise your child in the water. You can also visit these spots in winter if everyone is wearing gumboots.

© Brad Neal 2016. All rights reserved. This work is not to be sampled, copied, modified, adapted or reused for commercial purposes without the written consent of the author.