1000 Ballarto Rd,
The Cranbourne Botanic Gardens are one of our favourite places to visit; in fact we probably go there every fortnight or so, especially in Summer. It is a pretty big place, and this review certainly won’t be covering EVERY single child friendly element, but simply the bits that I think are the best! If you’ve got a favourite spot I didn’t mention leave a comment below and let me know.
Firstly, the gardens are free! Free car parking, free entry…woo! When you arrive to the car park you have two choices, go straight towards the Australia Gardens or right towards the Woodland Picnic Area and bushland track. If, like me, your first stop is coffee you’ll want to go straight, so let’s talk about the Australia Garden side first.
This is the area of the gardens that is beautifully landscaped; and a photographer’s dream location. There are many little pockets of fun to be found, but (with coffee in hand) our first stop is the extensive water play area…only about 200 metres from the café.
The water play area is about 10cm at it’s deepest, so a really safe space for kids to wade and splash. We like to use the water to make handprints on the walls, float and chase leaves down the rapids, and go crazy in the waterfalls. The only thing to note is that there is no shade over the water, or really much over the seating near it. Not an issue this time of year, but in Summer be prepared to slip, slop, slap.
After we’re done splashing our usual route takes us another 50 metres or so away from the café towards a playground.
This area is quite well shaded, and there’s a few benches or take a picnic rug and relax. There are lots of beautiful natural elements in this play space too, my favourite is these trees for framing pretty photos (or just running through them).
Next stop for us, after watching the ducks in the lake, is to scale the hill (Serpentine Path) to get to the sandpit with bonus footprints and bones to discover…with shade! Enjoy the view while your kids play.
After the sandpit play we’re usually ready for lunch. You can head to the kiosk (for simple snacks) or the café (a bit more fancy), depending on what you are after. Either way, there are many spots to explore while you are walking around.
We tend to go to the café, as I find it super child friendly and really great quality. Quick service, high chairs, change table in toilets, reasonable prices, and colouring in sheets for kids! The food is good too. If you join the birthday club you get a free meal on your birthday, hip hip hooray!
So that’s our quick loop of the Australia Gardens. If you’re someone who likes a map for reference, our standard loop is in pink. As you can see, there’s a heap more to this place, and this is only part one!
Part two of the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens is the bushland area. Minimal landscaping, a bit of wildlife to spot, and approximately 5km of walking paths.
400 metres in you’ll get to the Woodland Picnic Area, complete with toilets, BBQs, picnic tables and a playground.
There is nothing around for ages either side of this area, so you can really let your kids loose. It is so quiet (no traffic noises etc), and a gorgeous spot for a picnic lunch. I also love any playground on sand rather than tanbark!
Now there are too many other great attractions to be found on either side of the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens to mention and review them all, but should you go, allow yourself half a day to a day to really get the most out of your visit. If you have time, climb the observation deck too!
I give these gardens a 10/10! We love them, they are free, and I have no negatives to add. The gardens are open 9-5pm every day except Christmas and run many events throughout the year. Keep an eye on their “What’s on?” page for future fun!