Back in November I saw this incredible looking crochet climbing net on my Instagram feed and simply had to know what it was, where it was and how I could get my kids to play on it.
After opening to the public on December 17, Whoa Studios has been all over my social media and probably yours too. Yesterday morning we headed out early and made our way out west to the back blocks of Henderson, not entirely sure what we would find, but hopeful for an playground experience unlike any we’d had before.
Although Whoa Studios presents puppet shows each day that are reportedly incredible and well worth the ticket price, we decided to keep it lower key and enjoy the play facilities and restaurant only on this occasion.
At first I wondered how the series of adventure playgrounds could be monitored since they are located in an open carpark, and payment only is made when a parental seeks out the box office to pay the price to play. There is a $10 fee for any child aged 3+ at which points wrist bands are issued.
We arrived just after the 9am opening time and found the entire place virtually empty. The weather was average at best and though the crochet climbing net is under cover, the wind howled through the brightly coloured knots and cut through my long sleeved shirt so #instagramhusband and I hightailed it to the cafe and ordered a single-shot-flat-white. Though the kids were in short-sleeved T-shirts, they were unfazed by the cold as they were quite literally in playground utopia.
I say ‘cafe’ but the reality is that The Grounds is a sleek and well-appointed restaurant headed by the incomparable Ben Bayly. There were more staff on hand than seemed necessary, but they busied themselves with table wiping and chair rearrangement, seemingly waiting for the throngs to arrive. Everything about the interior and exterior set up was intentional and exceptionally well styled. There was so much to love; outdoors there were perfectly placed planters full of lush greenery, brightly coloured plastic chairs dotted around abstract shaped wooden tables, shade sails above to ward off sunshine – though there was none of that for us – but did well to diffuse the light smattering of rain we experienced and a perfect view of our frolicking children.
Step inside and the scene switches up. Dark and moody, natural tones and a luxe combo of timber, steel and concrete floors blend seamlessly with button back seating and a heavenly hoarding of lightshades. There’s a stair way to dining heaven and another private dining space on the lower level, plush seating and a ‘library’ area for meeting or relaxing. Even the bathrooms are well thought out – complete with Ashley & Co hand goodies. Did I mention two family rooms???!!! Change tables ladies!
An entire cabinet of housemade icecreams – think Magnum style – and a full menu of snacking plates, mains and smoothies ensure no one is going home hungry. The food is reasonably priced, for the most part. We ordered Chicken Sliders for the big kids at $7 a pop and they were definitely gourmet Ben Bayly style sliders but my kids devoured them. A bowl of buttered pasta for $4 was a winner for Beau. The bowl of Crispy Potatoes that the man-thing and I ordered to snack on that set us back $12 – and what we expected to resemble something like wedges – were nothing more than a bowl of hand-made kettle chips. Oh they did have something like Parmigiano-Reggiano grated over the top, but that was legitimately a wasted $12.
There are four distinct playzones at Whoa Studios – the aforementioned Whoa Web, the Rocket Ship, Dragon’s Castle and Pirate’s Cove. Everything is made from premium quality materials and the beautifully designed play-space provided much entertainment for every child clambering around. Around 10:45am the crowds started swelling and the cafe was getting busier, I’m sure in anticipation of the 11am puppet show. By 12pm the outdoor tables were bustling and we took our leave.
As we drove away and headed back across the city to the South Side, my kids declared that was the coolest playground they’ve ever been to. That’s about as much endorsement as anything needs right?!
8 Henderson Valley Road
URBAN PLAYGROUND CASUAL TICKETS
$10 for all day play.
Children under 3 play free with paid siblings
SUMMER PARK HOURS
MON/ TUES/ WED 9AM-6PM
THURS/FRI/SAT/SUN 9AM – 6PM
FREE ACCESS TO THE URBAN PLAYGROUND IS PROVIDED TO HOLDERS OF SHOW TICKETS ON THE SAME DAY
Casual entry park tickets can be purchased at the venue.