Discover enclosed playgrounds and gated parks in Wollongong and the Illawarra… Read on for perfect outside play places for toddlers or runners. We’ve got your family needs covered at Parents Guide Illawarra.
We’ve all been there. Desperate to get the kids out of the house (and even more so, desperate for a caffeine hit) but full of fear at the potential of releasing your tribe into the great outdoors. Whether you’ve got a ‘runner’ or just a kid who likes to roam, playgrounds can prove tricky territory, especially when juggling more than one.
That is where the real beauty of the gated playground lies. A contained space where parents can switch off at least one small part of their brain, safe in the knowledge that, short of scaling a fence, the kids won’t be able to escape. Ahhhh, that’s #mumbliss for you!
Because the gated playground can be a rare and elusive beast, we’ve rounded up the pick of the crop so that you can enjoy a hot coffee and some outside time sans stress. Release your tribe in safety and take a breath!
If you love our guide below, you will also love What to do in Wollongong with Toddlers – Illawarra’s Best Kids Activities + all the info about our 10 best Playgrounds across Wollongong, Shellharbour and Illawarra and Best Toddler-friendly Playgrounds in Wollongong and the Illawarra article also!
Luke’s Place, Corrimal, NSW, 2518
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Luke’s Place Corrimal
Luke’s Place playground, located right next to the Corrimal Park Mall, is an all-inclusive play space that ticks all the boxes. Fully fenced and featuring play equipment to suit toddlers through to older kids, the playground is a hit all year round, but especially in summer when the water table starts pumping (taking a change of clothes is a good idea).
Little loves will adore the climbable ‘choo choo’ train, while the older ones usually gravitate towards the spinning roundabout and basket swing. It’s also near several cafes (we love Hevan Espresso across the road).
Knox Park Playground, Austinmer, NSW, 2515
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Knox Park Playground, Austinmer (photo c/o Wollongong City Council website).
If you like your playground with a side of the beach, Austi Beach Playground will surely hit the spot. Recently renovated to include brand new play equipment and, most importantly, a complete child-proof fence, this is a great spot to kick back during the warmer months. There’s climbing equipment, slides and swings galore, and plenty of space for a picnic lunch.
The Austi Beach Café is also directly across the road for that all-important hot drink. Local tip: Watch where you park! The local birdlife seems to have developed a vendetta against cars and has a reputation for pooing ALL over them. Try parking on the beach side of the car park as opposed to right up next to the park. Trust us; you’ll be grateful we warned you!
Wollongong Botanic Garden, Gwynneville, NSW, 2500
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Wollongong Botanic Garden Playground
The award for the gated playground with the most scenic surroundings would have to go to the Wollongong Botanic Garden. Situated at the Murphys Avenue entrance to the gardens, the all-abilities playground is fully fenced and HUGE.
Featuring plenty of space to run around, a large climbing frame, a sand pit, swings, cubby houses, slides and even a maze, the Botanic Garden’s playground is a fantastic choice for the littlest bubs to older kids who can conveniently ‘lose’ their parents in one of the nooks and crannies of the space.
A coffee van outside the playground is open from 9-2 pm every day. With heaps of picnic spaces, pack lunch and a thermos (or buy a delicious coffee) and spend the morning taking in the playground, checking out the ducks (pack some frozen peas to feed the ducks, but please don’t feed them bread as it makes them sick), and going for a wander. It’s the perfect cheap and kid-friendly outing.
Strachan Park Playground, Woonona, NSW, 2517
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Strachan Park Playground, Woonona.
Newly updated with a complete fence! This is a great playground to stop into while in Woonona. It is right in the middle of town, close to great cafes for that coffee hit or some morning tea. It even has a couple of covered tables for lunch or relaxing while you watch your kids play. Or sit on the grass and have a picnic.
Gymea Glade Park, Helensburgh, NSW, 2508
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Gymea Glade Park, Helensburgh
This toddler-friendly, nature-inspired playground has plenty of space for running around, along with a kids’ bike track, climbing equipment, swings and picnic benches. There’s also a full-sized bike track and duck pond outside of the fenced area.
No café on site but plenty en route to the park.
Gahans Lane Park, Woonona, NSW, 2517
Tucked away behind the hustle and bustle of the main street in Woonona is the compact but fun Gahans Lane Park. Fully fenced and complete with climbing equipment, slides and swings, and a picnic table. It’s a great spot to stop if you’re a local or are driving through the area.
Cringila Hills Recreation Playground
Best Fenced Playgrounds in the Illawarra – Cringila Hills Recreation Playground – photo source: Steven Bell
A recreation playground with everything you could need to keep kids of all ages and abilities busy. It has some shade and toilets available onsite. It even has a bubbler for kids to refill drink bottles or have a quick drink in between all the play. Remember to bring food and drinks because this playground isn’t nearby shops.
Great dining in the Illawarra with fabulous play areas
Dapto Leagues Club – Tabatinga
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Tabatinga, Dapto
Tabatinga at Dapto Leagues Club is an epic indoor play area for the little ones to run, play and have a ball while you watch them and relax. The staff are friendly and welcoming, and it is an easy way to spend a morning or afternoon and go home with satisfied kids.
Woonona-Bulli RSL Club Playground
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Woonona-Bulli RSL Club Playground
Woonona-Bulli RSL Club has catered for young and older children with their playgrounds. They have a great coffee and morning tea cafe and a bistro open at lunchtime. This is truly a stress-free experience. The kids can play safely while you have some time out with everything you need onsite. This is a winner!
Warilla Bowls & Recreation Club
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Warilla Bowls & Recreation Club Playground
With ocean views and great food options, you will have a lovely time at Warilla Bowls & Recreation Club. The staff are excellent, and the playground is perfect for keeping your children busy and entertained.
Helensburgh Tradie’s Club Playground
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Helensburgh Tradie’s Club
Great food and a well-equipped playground. Parents can eat, chat, and relax while the kids enjoy playing and burning off that endless energy supply. Helensburgh Tradie’s Club makes spending a morning here relaxing while the kids play easy.
Towradgi Beach Hotel Playground
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Towradgi Beach Hotel Playground
Towradgi Beach Hotel has a great enclosed playground surrounded by tables and chairs. This is an excellent set-up as the parents are nearby to watch their kids without being in the playground. Inside there are giant fish tanks with a fantastic array of fish to watch. The food is delicious, and this place has a great atmosphere.
Indoor Play Centres
UOW’s Early Start Discovery Space
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – UOW Early Start Discovery Space
A hands-on science museum, and my family’s absolute favourite. The Early Start Discovery Space blows my mind every time I go there. My children love it and get lost in play and learning. Inside is full of hands-on play-based educational activities aimed at up to 12-year-olds. These include a Lego room, construction site, cargo ship, archaeological zone, and more.
Membership also means you have access to parking. This is underneath the Discovery Space. It makes loading and unloading the children and supplies easy. Even without a membership, there is still free parking. This is in the university carpooling car park, a short walk from the Discovery Space. There are lockers inside to store everything you need for a day out. In the enclosed outside area there is a cafe, creek and play equipment. What’s not to love?
Flip Out, Albion Park
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Flip Out, Albion Park
Let the kids burn some energy and have a great time at Flip Out in Albion Park. They have an awesome Ninja Warrior zone and areas for kids of all ages. It’s the perfect place for a fantastic birthday party, or an outing full of fun! With great coffee and wonderful staff, you won’t be disappointed with your decision to visit. Why not join in the fun with the kids and don some Flip Out socks so you can laugh, play and bond with the kids too?
Ready Set Play, Albion Park
Best gated playgrounds in the Illawarra – Parent’s Guide Illawarra – Ready Set Play, Albion Park
An indoor play centre with a difference, Ready Set Play in Albion Park is a day out the kids will love. Catering for up to ten-year-olds, with a separate play area for 0-4-year-olds. Birthday parties are a breeze here with everything being taken care of. The food platters are delicious and the cakes are beautiful! Book the Barbie High Tea or the Pamper Party for an extra special experience.
We hope this guide helps, what gated parks did we miss? We struggled to find any gated parks South of Wollongong but we would love to update this guide if you know of any. Any updates are gratefully received at [email protected] – thanks for your help!
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About the Author: Lisa Hagan
Lisa grew up in Thirroul and is a mum of four children. A student to life, Lisa loves learning and searching for the most fun things to do with her kids. She loves exploring the Illawarra and surrounds. Searching for fun and educational activities are her favourites for her kids whom she homeschools.