I’ve been taking my lads to Jacob Ballas Gardens since it first opened and that was before they could walk. In the early days, we didn’t get past the small water-play garden, which was lovely, cool, calm, and easy for Mum (and Dad). But the world suddenly got bigger, and every nook and cranny of Jacob Ballas has now been explored.
It is a regular feature in our adventure itinerary, because the boys always find something new to do. They’re able to do things like climb trees, throw rocks in the water, walk across logs in the “creek,” the fish nibble their fingers, they can climb all over big chunks of wood in the centre of the park, explore the herb garden, challenge themselves in a maze, play with sand, navigate the tree house, and so much more. Every time we go there, they focus on something different, so after nearly five years I’m pleased to say, they’re still loving it.
I like it because it’s a place where my boys can get dirty, and while they’re not able to experience these sorts of activities in a natural environment like I did as a kid, I like the fact I can take them there and they can be free. As time goes on, they might even enjoy the educational aspect of the gardens – something that is slowly coming to their attention – but for now, it’s about going hard and being boys.
One great thing in the park is a couple of really climbable trees. I have climbers, and my eldest, Lex, is a prodigious climber. I love watching them clamber up into the trees, although on a recent foray into the garden, Lex got up too high for my comfort, and rather than listening to his Mum, he got attacked by red ants up in its lofty heights. That certainly got him down.
The tree house is a popular feature and it’s always full of kids. If you’ve visited in recent months to a closed shop, you’ll be happy to know that the tree house is open again, but the slides remain closed. I believe they had a major red ant problem in 2011 but it’s nearly fixed, and due to open in its entirety again soon. Keep checking online if this is an issue for you.
Highlights and reminders:
- There’s lots of natural stuff to look at beyond the plants – such as bugs, caterpillars, squirrels, fish, turtles, and more. One rainy day we found a beautiful tree frog perched on a leaf, so this aspect of the adventure is always awesome, as the boys love checking out live “stuff”
- The mosquitoes come out during key hours, so at least wear the mosquito patch if you’re worried – I don’t usually bother
- The ants are pretty ferocious, so before you sit down check the ant activity in the vicinity. The big red ants hurt, but the sting is over and done with pretty quickly
- On really hot days, it can get REALLY uncomfortable in the gardens – so not always a relaxing adventure option. Mornings and late afternoons are best
- The little water park is great for the bubbas, but as there’s no shade over this area, bring plenty of sun protection, including swim suits
- Hats, long sleeve t-shirts, lots of water, healthy snacks, etc… are all necessary, however we were once told off for eating our home brought snacks – I’ve never seen it listed as an issue. If you forget to pack your bags of snacks, the cafe at the entrance is very good, with some great healthy options, as well as plenty of unhealthy options that make kids smile. So if your nippers get hungry, it’s just a short distance away
It’s free to get in, and it’s open 8am to 7pm Tues-Sun and closed Mondays, except if it’s a public holiday. You cannot take bikes or scooters into the park, and unaccompanied adults are not allowed to enter – i.e. you must be with a child. Alternatively, kids must be accompanied by an adult. It’s designed for kids up to 12 years old, and if you’re kids are of an age, you can download the map of the flora and fauna to make it a bit more educational.
Enjoy. We love it and are convinced there’s something for everyone.
BTW you can follow us on Twitter @Singkids365