The Ian Potter WILD PLAY Garden at Centennial Parklands


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The Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden at Centennial Parklands is a wonderful place for nature play and adventure.

It’s a real antidote to city living and to wrapping kids up in cotton wool.  

The Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden at Centennial Park was designed to cater for children of all ages and abilities in a dramatic landscape in which children are encouraged to run, jump, play, learn and discover the wild side of life.

the giant tree houses at the Ian Potter WILD PLAY garden
The play elements are literally in the middle of the vegetation, it nearly feels like being into jungle but without big trees

Not to be mistaken for a playground, the Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden is Australia’s first Children’s Garden, a beautiful 6000 area with 12,000 plants. Within the garden there is a wonderful natural play space, and a water play area which is wonderful for hot days.

“The importance of this garden extends far beyond a place for children to play outdoors in a park. This garden will provide children opportunities to reconnect with nature at a time when many have rapidly decreasing access to nature and the outdoors.” Hon. Gabrielle Upton, Minister for Environment and Heritage.

The WILD PLAY Garden provides children with the chance to get lost in the wonder of nature with dry creek beds, an artesian water play area, a bamboo forest, banksia tunnels, turtle mounds and Centennial Park’s first tree house.

chidren on suspended bridge at Ian Potter WILD PLAY
The suspended bridge looks easy but it is actually quick tricky to go over

The Ian Potter WILD PLAY Garden at Centennial Parklands

Grand Drive, close to York gates Note: check maps below

Centennial Gardens Website, click here

By Mireia Garriga Seguranyes

Ditch the screens and let your kids go wild! The Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden is a great alternative to the traditional man-made playgrounds.

Inside the WILD PLAY Garden, there are different play areas. Here is a map showing the layout of WILD PLAY that I highly recommend having a look at it before you go. 

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When we visited it last summer, the vegetation was so lush in the bamboo forest and the banksia scrub tunnels that I felt relieved to know that the space is totally enclosed. While I don’t consider myself a helicopter parent, I like to be able to see my daughters, especially when the play area is reasonable big and busy. Here, you can relax, as “technically” they cannot go anywhere.

Located near the bamboo forest, the tree house is a favourite amongst children. My daughters loved it. If your children are like ninja warriors, this is the place to be. The tree house can be accessed by a connecting plank, a suspended bridge and through several platforms. All these elements are quite challenging, so the tree house is not suitable for toddlers. On the top, kids can get a thrill out of going down the slide.

the WILD PLAY Centennial Park water play area
The artesian water play area is a paradise for little kids (and not so little)
child splashing at WILD PLAY water playground
The water play area is spacious but it gets very busy in summer, no wonder! Where’s better to beat the heat?

Despite the water area only having jets, older kids still can have fun running through them. It is a very safe environment for toddlers and preschool aged children too, as there are only few steps. Of course, if you have a climber at home, he/she will go towards the rock tier section. Good news is that the surface is not slippery. So, sit down (maybe grab a coffee before) and watch the kids have their best time.

The garden is full of hidden surprises and opportunities to play with natural elements such as sand, sticks, flowers, leaves and pebbles. The turtle mound, the dry creek beds, the balancing eels, and the sand pit provide a diverse range of creative play opportunities. My daughters and I didn’t spend much time here, as you can imagine, water play was more appealing in summer.

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Express access to the picnic area

After so much fun, we had a snack under the shade. The gathering place area is perfect for a picnic. Toilets are close by and there is a coffee van that offers ice cream, too.

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On the corner there is a van that serves snacks, drinks and coffee

Note: Bring your own picnic or go to Homestead kiosk /restaurant if you are plan to have lunch at Centennial.

The only handicap of the Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden is that opens quite late at 10 am. So, take the kids bikes or the scooters with you, if they need to burn energy earlier in the morning.

The WILD PLAY Garden is a place where children and their carers can spend hours playing and leave feeling like they have reconnected with nature in the middle of the city.

Opening hours: 10.00 am – 5.00 pm daily (closed during August)

How to find WILD PLAY: The entrance is off Grand Drive, just before the York Rd gates, in Centennial Park, entrance.

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Tip: pay attention to the pedestrian side. When you see the stop signs “Give away the horses”, it means that you have arrived.

Price: Free.

It is important to note that from time-to-time, operational changes in the Park may mean that Centennial Parklands temporarily needs to close the WILD PLAY Garden. Keep an eye on the website for details.

Toilets: yes, including baby changing facilities 

Nearest takeaway coffee: coffee van

Enclosed: yes

Shade: plenty, although the water play area is the most exposed

Pram accessible: yes, but not the easiest (you might end up parking the pram on a corner)

Mum’s report: The Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden, in the heart of Centennial Park, offers city kids an opportunity to immerse themselves in an oasis of nature-play and adventure. It’s a wonderful place for kids to run, play, explore and enjoy water play.

Don’t forget sunscreen, hats and spare clothes!

Parking: All parking within Centennial Park is free and the majority of this parking is also untimed. Always park in designated parking areas – front first along Grand Drive’s parking bays.

There are small areas of parking near the major gates that offer timed parking (a maximum of 3 hours). These parking restrictions were put in place to reduce the number of people who park within Centennial Park and commute to the city, making things fairer for all of our visitors. 

Parking availability within Centennial Park may be restricted at certain times of the year due to major events.

Nearest station: Alison Road Light Rail Station (please, note that you will have to walk half of the Grand Dr circuit to reach the Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY Garden).

Bus stop nearby: Oxford Street before York Road Bus Stop.

Note: always check public transport updates before travelling


The Visitor Information Counter is handy, find it adjacent to the Centennial Parklands Restaurant, Banksia Way, Centennial Park (9.00 am to 4.00 pm Monday to Friday, 09.00am to 2.00pm Saturday to Sunday).

My daughters had a blast at The Ian Potter WILD PLAY Garden.  

Free parking, fully fenced, plenty of shade, water play area and coffee van.

With all these highly desired features, you cannot get wrong when choosing a space to have fun with your kids.

Do you know any other places that tick all these boxes? 

Ian Potter WILD PLAY Garden Map

And here are a few more photos, taken when the playground first opened!

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Launch of the Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden. Photo: Tim Lumsdaine
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Launch of the Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden. Photo: Tim Lumsdaine
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Launch of the Ian Potter Children’s Wild Play Garden. All photos by Tim Lumsdaine
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WILD PLAY Garden Centennial Parklands 8

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    1. says: Seana Smith

      Hello, there is car parking all along Grand Drive. However, my advice would be to get there pretty early as there’s more chance of finding a parking space close to the play area.

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