The nationwide search for Australia’s best playground ever, led by the Australian Institute for Landscape Architects (AILA), has culminated with the City of Melbourne’s Nature Play at Royal Park selected as the country’s overall best public play space.

The competition to select Australia’s Best Playground was organised by AILA to recognise and celebrate the country’s best public play spaces and the innovative landscape architects that create them, as well as inspire communities to engage in their local play spaces. The contest drew 45 submissions with the public spaces ranging from adventure playgrounds and cross-fit circuits to waterplay and senior fitness courses. The winners were chosen by People’s Choice and an expert jury.

Located adjacent to Melbourne’s new Royal Children’s Hospital, Nature Play’s responsive design respects the local heritage of the place by focusing on the seven seasons of the Wurundjeri, and also encourages patient and staff interaction. The winning entry was designed by the City Design Studio - City of Melbourne.

The expert jury said:

“Nature Play at Royal Park is designed to invite users to look deeper to witness the layers and seasonal change in the playspace. The jury applaud the approach, as it sets the standard for building appreciation, engagement and respect for the space at a city scale, and builds on the unique heritage of Royal Park, building knowledge and ensuring that future generations become active stewards of the natural environment.”

The AILA also handed out three Regional Awards and an Innovation Award as listed below: 

Australia's Best Playground

Nature Play at Royal Park, Melbourne by City of MelbournePhotography by David Hannah



ACT/NSW prize

Lizard Log Playground, Sydney by McGregor Coxall and WesternSydney Parklands Trust


VIC/TAS prize

Valley Reserve Sparc, Melbourne by Playce


WA/NT/SA/QLD prize

Yokine Regional Inclusive Play Space, Perth by Aecom


Innovation Award

Play[ground], Sydney by Hassell, Archikidz and Sydney Living Museums


An all-expenses paid trip to the home of Lappset, Rovaniemi in Finland awaits the winner, while the regional winners receive tickets to the 2016 International Festival of Landscape Architecture - NOT IN MY BACKYARD.

Image: City of Melbourne’s Nature Play at Royal Park