Travelling with a Toddler – Melbourne

 March 8, 2019

Australia was not on my bucket list for travel. There are so many places I’ve yet to see. When my husband would bring up the subject I was like—too far! Why travel there? But when my daughter was transferred to Melbourne and needed help moving, of course I came. So now I have experienced travelling with a toddler in Melbourne, Australia.

One Word!

When it comes to travelling with a toddler, I have one word—parks! And if the park has a playground, even better. I love parks. When I backpacked through Europe in my twenties, the first places I always checked out were the parks. You might say, where others my age at the time toured the local pubs, breweries and wineries, I toured the parks of Europe. None were too small for me to skip. I loved them all.

Toddlers need room to run and use their newly acquired skill. Parks provide such a space. And if there’s a playground with slides and toddler friendly toys—its toddler heaven. Melbourne is a bustling metropolis with lots of green space. I set out to explore the parks within walking distance of where we were staying in downtown Melbourne. We visited six different parks in five days, plus three garden areas in one morning.

Give a toddler 30 minutes at a park, and you can take them anywhere. I got to explore different areas in the city and Timmy got to play at a park. A win-win situation.

The Parks

The first park we visited was Flagstaff Park, close to Queen Victoria Market. I got to explore the market on the way there and back. The park was beautiful with green space and flowers. The playground was good, but not perfect for toddlers. Timmy enjoyed climbing on the available playground equipment, with my assistance. He also had fun chasing birds. Note – the public restrooms here were exceptionally clean. When told to look for small green building my first thought was—port-a-potty. I was pleasantly surprised.

The next park was across the street from where we had pizza that night. I didn’t note its name, but it had a double slide that Tim rode down with his dad, thereby overcoming his fear of slides.

The following day I set off in search of a playground in North and South Carlton Park, two large parks that are on either side of the Melbourne museum. After touring the perimeter of the parks, I finally found the playground. There were three play areas. The one in the middle was perfect for toddlers. The play ground on one side also included parts that were good for toddlers. Timmy was able to go up and down the slide by himself and ran all over the park with other children.

Luna Park, Docklands and Federation Square

The next day we headed to Luna Park, an amusement park. Timmy and I rode the rides suited for toddlers (and me) but he had the most fun running around the tent where we were eating and chasing birds. Note—toddlers don’t want to be confined on a ride. How was sitting on a train or a carousel any different from sitting in a car? They are happiest when running free.

Our next excursion was to Docklands, a port area of the city. Buluk park was located by the library and was great for toddlers. There was a series of water faucets that could be turned on by the push of a button which sprayed water and filled water ways. Timmy ended up soaked. Note—an extra set of clothes is essential when travelling with a toddler.

The Birrarung Marr park behind Federation Square, along the Yarra river was advertised as having a large playground. We found the playground however it was more suited to older children. Timmy had more fun chasing birds and running along the pathway by the park.

Kings Domain

Our final visit was the Royal Botanical Gardens. When I saw that it was less than 4 km from our hotel, I decided I could walk there. Mistake. Once you crossed the Princess bridge into Kings Domain, there was one long continuation of gardens, including Alexandra Gardens and Queen Victoria Gardens. The Botanical Gardens was the farthest point. The Magic Gardens for children, wasn’t open till later that day so we didn’t get to see them. We walked along the many trails. On our way back through the other parks we stopped at a sprinkler where Tim played and then watched a bird squawk at us. Beautiful area. I don’t advise walking four km before trying to take on the park as well.

We returned several times to the playground in North Carlton but as the weather heated up to one hundred for six days we didn’t go far in the afternoons.

Managing with a Stroller

When travelling with a toddler, a stroller is a must. It keeps young legs from wondering off and small hands from being able to grab everything in reach. While I’m not an expert on disabilities, walking with a stroller was similar to navigating the city with a wheelchair. I was pleased with how easy it was to get through most of the streets of Melbourne with a stroller, however when I got off of those streets it wasn’t as easy. When I walked from Federation Square to Birrarung Marr and wanted to return to the street, I was confronted with multiple stairs that were not easily negotiated with a stroller, impassible with a wheelchair, requiring me to backtrack.

The trams in the downtown were free, however I chose not to struggle with getting a stroller on them, especially during rush hour. So, I walked. After the long flights there, going through security, customs and long waits, my feet were already hurting. Add all of the walking and my feet ached. But I reminded myself how fortunate I was to be able to walk, even if my feet hurt!

Travelling with a Toddler

It was a tough job, but someone had to do it! Warm weather and beautiful parks—what’s not to like? Especially when back home in Michigan it was still a frozen wasteland. It also helped having mom and dad close by to take over when we got back from our excursions.

It doesn’t take a lot to keep a toddler entertained. Birds to watch and chase, sticks and stones to pick up and a place to run. These can be found anywhere, but nice for grandma when they include visiting new and exciting places.

What are your experiences travelling with a toddler?

(Note – my flip-phone didn’t work in Australia so I wasn’t able to take pictures to share. Instead I have included links to the different places mentioned.)

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