April 29, 2011
Anakie Fairy Park
2388 Balllan Road, Anakie
A day at Anakie Fairy Park and lunch at Denny’s was my perfect day as a child. Where else could you see funny little characters chugging mugs of beer and eating bowls of porridge in a dated but familiar setting. Yes that may well have been Dennys, but the Fairy Park was a most wondrous place as well and I always recall our family outings there with a smile.
Located in Anakie, one hour west of Melbourne and half an hour from Geelong, this theme park is bound to delight your little ones the same way it did my childhood self, although perhaps now they may see it a little differently. We didn’t have Toy Story back then remember, and dioramas were still considered pretty cool, not to mention the whole’ look don’t touch’ theory when it came to museum exhibits and family friendly entertainment. The world has changed, our kids now expect fully tactile, surround sound, 3D experiences even when it comes to the imaginary world of fairy tales, and as such this place may not live up to their expectations. However, you will be surprised, in spite of all this, how they engage with the age old love of button pushing and the joy of seeing their favourite fairy tale characters come to life, in a setting a that is entirely devoted to the imagination and not to some modern perspective of how we see the world.
As such, my first piece of advice for parents with under-fives is to come prepared. Whilst the Fairy Park is pram-friendly, it is not necessarily toddler friendly unless you have another adult in tow. Being a steep site, there are plenty of places a newly-footed toddler can tumble. The Camelot Playground is a signature of our childhood, not theirs, so best not to go sipping lattes whilst the kids are at play because, if your kids are anything like mine, they will be end up in strife. I know that this sounds like a lot of work, but I assure you the Fairy Park is well worth a visit with under-fives as long as you are up to the challenge.
Let me take you through the journey because getting to the Fairy Park is part of the fun. After driving along long country roads that seem to go on forever, you finally see the words FAIRY PARK up on the hill and an entrance flanked by a giant Gulliver. At the ticket booth, the owner of the park pokes a Daffy Duck on a stick out the window with a map in its beak. If you hand him a $50 note, Daffy passes you your change in a pre-prepared snap lock bag. Up the hill you will find ample parking and a bunch of picnic spots, both indoors and outdoors. They provide a good waking up spot after a long drive and I’d suggest you bring your own food as options on-site are dismal for the under-fives. From here you follow the yellow brick road up into Fairy Tale Land where you will discover funny little houses tucked into the hill. Here live all your favourite fairy tale characters such as Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and The Three Little Pigs. Push the button beside the window and the fairy tale scenes come to life in true 70’s fashion. As an adult, be ready to laugh at the ‘promotional’ bears picnic and the Goldilocks audio in which she offers her pocket money in payment for her misdemeanours, but be wary of the big bad wolf, he’s a little bit scary perhaps for our precious, Disney-diet offsprings.
The view from Elephant Rock is impressive, and if you visit in August or September the fields below will be covered in a big yellow blanket of canola. Best of all, the Camelot Playground is lots of fun with a seriously scary giant slide, spinning pod, and old-school play equipment. Just keep an eye on dad, he might enjoy it more than the kids!
Before your visit I recommend visiting the Fairy Park website as they have a pdf of the most direct route. I went on directions from whereis which took us through Little River and this was quite a roundabout route but scenic if you want the kids to have a sleep on the way.
If the kids aren't too tired after your visit, I'd reccomend driving into Geelong and having fish n'chips on the foreshore and a play in Rippleside Park.