I’m not sharing anything new with you when I say that kids today have less of an affair with the great outdoors than we did when we were young. In particular, the adventure and imagination-filled wonder of climbing amongst the outstretched limbs of the perfect tree. What was once a symbol of an idyllic childhood is no longer looked on with such reverence and in fact many parents today, although I’m sure they would be nodding and smiling away at the memories of their own Tarzan-swinging days, would worry a little too much if their beloved adventurer started clambering over the low-lying branches of nature’s greatest playground gift. It’s too risky, I hear you say, and today risk is a four letter word we like to stay well clear of.
I have a friend with an 18 month old who climbs like a champion. I admire the way she can stand back and let him completely explore his surroundings with such gutso and although I sometimes want to jump into the pics she uploads to Facebook and hold my hands slightly below him as he teeters on the edge of yet another great conquest his skill, balance and ability is a wonder to behold at such a young age and I believe is a credit to his parents ability to step back a little.
We all need to learn to let go just a little. Let them learn as we did, explore as we did, get dirty as we did and love being amongst the world we are so lucky to live in as we did. We have the most amazing landscape in Australia and our city in particular is overflowing with these grounded yet sky-reaching giants that can provide them with so much. Climbing trees builds strength, critical thinking skills, imagination and co-ordination. It also helps them understand their own limitations and yes, can even be a lesson in gravity.
Below is a list of some great places in Brisbane that have amazing trees for climbing and would also make great day picnic areas. Pack a lunch, set up underneath one of these shady, sweet-smelling wonders and let your little one explore their texture, admire the animals they may house and discover the joy they behold.
Wellington Point Reserve
This would have to be one of my top picks and it offers so much to create a memorable day out for the entire family. The imagination-based playground is beneath the towering ancient Moreton Bay Fig trees that huddle together and feel like they are reaching out over the park to gently cradle it from above. They are a truly bewitching sight to behold and their low, thick branches that snake amongst the beautiful setting are just begging to be mounted. The area has a 270 degree view of the water and at low tide you can even walk over to King Island where beds of exposed seagrass come alive with crabs and remnants of the marine environment.
This park has a lot to offer little climbers and its adventure-course playground takes on the appearance of a tree house as it sits back against and is engulfed by the impressive fig tree background. Although there are plenty of different trees within the 37ha of parkland that are worthy of a climbing mention, you really don’t need to go any further than the main playground area. The maze-like fig roots and branches are almost mystical in their appearance and are never without small bodies weaving within their eery yet intriguing limbs.
This park may offer cafes, bike paths, a water park, playground and even a wading pool but it is the entangled branches of the many towering trees at Wynnum that still attract the masses. Providing shade over the many grassed picnic areas as well as the main play spaces, its easy to let the little ones explore them whilst you enjoy a blanket laid with fish and chips and relaxed bodies nearby.
This north side, beach-side playground is extremely popular not only because it is fenced but because of its amazing Cottonwood trees. Easily more popular than the playground itself, their branches twist and curl around each other and offer amazing natural climbing frames for little hands and feet. The nearby Red Cliffs and adjacent Redcliffe Beach make for other great exploration projects as well.
Sherwood Forest Park
With over 13 hectares of parkland that is home to two playgrounds, two lakes, a duck pond and pretty bridges and platforms it is surprising that Sherwood Forest Park is often relatively quiet even at the busiest times. It also has over 1000 trees of more than 300 species and is a great place to head if you are wanting to introduce your Brisbane Kids to some nature loving playtime. The best climbing trees are found over the hill behind the main playground, not too far from the river. Here a cluster of beautiful climbing trees huddle together, creating endless entertainment, a leaf-strewn blanket beneath and a wide-reaching sun-speckled canopy above. Bliss.
Yeronga Memorial Park
Established in 1982 as a World War 1 memorial park, Yeronga Memorial Park is one of the oldest that exists in our great city. The trees that line the memorial walk and beyond are low to the ground with far-reaching branches that will help even the most cautious of parents feel at ease as their child explores. The park has large areas of flat grass, walking paths, dog parks, tennis courts, playgrounds and also houses the Yeronga Park Memorial Pool.
Another park that offers an abundance of climbing opportunities both around the entrance lagoon and the impressive new playground near the top is Underwood Park. By the lagoon there is a row of low slung yet sturdy branches with park benches and shady grass below perfect for a family picnic. The park boasts many other fabulous attractions for kids that can also be explored once the natural climbing frames have been exhausted.
Arthur Davis Park
Another one for those living in the northern suburbs is Arthur Davis Park at Sandgate. This beachfront playground is surrounded by trees that have the perfect architectural structure for some very active climbing. Whilst the playground may be popular, it’s the surrounding branches that attract the most attention both for exploration or a lazy rest on.
Not actually a park but definitely worth a mention are the trees that surround and sit within the Northey Street Organic Markets. Famed for their fantastic produce, the markets are also well known for their tree-lined paths and it is simply impossible to go there and NOT see happy little people hanging from the many branches that shade the space. Support the locals, grab some fresh produce and sit on a small stool at the tree base while your kids explore the world above.
For those who have Brisbane kids eager to go even higher off the ground and challenge their senses then it may be worth checking out Tree Climbers Australia. They facilitate climbs with ropes and harnesses to the canopy tops for children as young as 8 and can even organise a birthday party event as well!
Your Local Park or Own Backyard!
Its like anything, once you are conscious of something all of a sudden they appear to be everywhere and the same can be said for a great climbing tree. We are completely spoilt here in Brisbane and it only takes one to create hours of fun for the family. It may be in your backyard or the local park, but I guarantee there won’t be one too far away and we would love to hear about the ones your kids love the most!
Climbing Trees in Brisbane is just the beginning!
We love our kids with all our heart and would do anything to protect them but in today’s society you also have to wonder if this hasn’t been taken just a little too far. There are ways to be mindful and safe whilst still allowing them to experience the simplest of childhood pleasures and valuable learning experiences as well. By allowing our little ones the freedom to explore, to climb, to breathe in the natural scents, to view the world from a different level and to manage their own limitations you will not only be teaching them valuable life skills but affording them wonderful childhood memories too.
Here at Brisbane Kids we are passionate about Nature Play. For more inspiration, have a look at our article on Getting Our Kids Outdoors. You may also like to find out more about Nature Tales in the Moreton Bay Region. We’ve reviewed all the best playgrounds in Brisbane for kids, so take a look at our Parks in Brisbane Map to find an awesome playground close to where you live.