Wombat Bend playground in Lower Templestowe is a fantastic playground with a wide variety of innovative play spaces and equipment, but its water feature, as designed,
performs poorly. The hand pump is permanently locked and the mini-aqueduct is only able to run at a trickle because it is often clogged with sand. However,
I have a solution for all of those determined kids and parents who want to soup-up this water feature and turn it back into the fun water play activity that it
was originally meant to be.
Above: The trickling stream flowing into the giant sandpit   Inset: The kookaburra who
keeps watch over the barbecue at close range
If you press the large silver buttons on the mini-aqueduct, the water only comes out at a trickle. I ended up with a big red circle on my thigh from
trying to hold the button in until I came up with a better idea. Next to the barbecue area near the sandpit, there is a tap. What you need to do is bring
some buckets, ideally 2-3 that you can ferry back and forth.
Fill them up and empty them into the top of the aqueduct to create a decent torrent of water in the aqueduct and the stream it drains into.
Kids can operate the buckets themselves and follow the pulse of water down the length of the water feature. Alternatively they can wait in anticipation for the
water to arrive in the artificial stream at the end of the aqueduct, and then jump in the temporary pool when the water spills down into the sandpit. The
buckets of water also flush out the sand so that the buttons work more effectively afterwards.
Above: Playing in the sandy stream at the end of the mini-aqueduct
The playground itself is one of the best that I have come across in Melbourne. It is fully enclosed and has some great features including a maze,
the giant sandpit, a sundial, a sea-saw that looks like two park benches on springs, two flying foxes, slides and a batman-esque swing. The barbecues inside the fenced playground are
extremely popular, so get there early or be very patient if you want to use them on weekends. Keep a lookout for the curious kookaburra, which perches itself
on a tree fern next to the barbecue, waiting completely still for some scraps of meat.
The Yarra River is next door to the playground, but is not really suitable for swimming in due to the poor water quality here most of the time.
Essential Information Before You Go:
Location: Finns Reserve, Duncan St, Lower Templestowe, 18 km (around 30 minute drive)
north-east of the Melbourne CBD
Getting there: By car, from the city take the Eastern Freeway (M3) to the Bulleen/Thompsons Rd exit. Follow Thompsons
Rd (highway route 42) to Lower Templestowe, and then continue on to Union Street at the Templestowe Rd/Foote St intersection. Duncan
St is 300 metres on the left. Car parking is available at the end of Duncan St. By public transport, take bus 905 from
the corner of Swanston St and Lonsdale St in the city and hop off around 30 minutes later at the corner of Foote St and
Thompsons Rd. You will then need to walk around 400 metres down Union St and then Duncan St to the playground. You can also ride
from the city by bicycle along the Main Yarra Trail. When you get to Lower Templestowe, head across the pedestrian bridge and
turn right along the Ruffey Trail, which runs alongside Wombat Bend playground on the southern side of the Yarra River.
General facilities: Toilets, sheltered picnic tables, playground, maze, drinking fountain, rubbish bins,
car parking, barbecue facilities, bike racks, amphitheatre.
Baby change facilities: Yes
Sun shade: Partial shade over the water feature and the sandpit at most times of the day.
Entrance fee: None
Opening times: Always open
Wheelchair access: Wheelchair accessible paths, disabled parking, wheelchair accessible toilets.
Prohibitions: No smoking, no bike riding within the playground area, no dogs within the playground area, dogs off leads
permitted outside of the playground area.
Managing authority: Manningham City Council
Nearby attractions: The Main Yarra Bike Trail
Before you head out, make sure to read the water safety information
The marker indicates the location of the sand pit at the playground.
If you would like to leave a comment about this shallow water play area, please fill in the comment box below.
I'm particularly interested in your experiences after visiting, and any changes in conditions, etc.
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© Brad Neal 2017. All rights reserved.