A Hidden Adventure Playground at Wulaba Park, Waterloo

Tucked away amongst extensive high-rise residential development in Waterloo is Wulaba Park, with a very cool playground particularly for older children. In addition to the playground there’s open grassy space, attractive landscaping, a picnic and barbecue area, bike racks and handball and table tennis courts.
Wulaba Park, which officially opened in 2016, was a joint venture between the City of Sydney and residential developer Meriton. Built on Gadigal Country, the park gets its name from the Aboriginal word of the Gadigal people, Wulaba which means ‘rock wallaby’. Prior to urban development rock wallabies were seen regularly in the area which was a large swamp.

The attractive multicoloured playground equipment and the soft fall surface were a collaboration between artist Sydney Nuha Saad and landscape architects. It has an inviting feel and my little misses 4 and 6 whooped with excitement when they glimpsed it from across the grassed area.
This adventure playground has a range of enticing equipment, including a large concrete and wooden climbing structure and varying swings, climbing nets and tunnels. But undoubtedly the highlight is the huge climbing tower and giant tube slide. There are several access points to the climbing tower with different degrees of difficulty, and the little misses climbed this structure eagerly, again and again.

It must be noted that there are a number of downsides to this park, particularly for families with younger children. First, there seem to be a couple of unresolved landscaping issues. One side of the playground, near the climbing tower, drops down into a garden bed without any barrier and is a potential hazard for young children. Additionally, there was an open side of the concrete structure with a decent drop below.
The enormous climbing and slide are suited best to children aged 5 years and up. We saw several ambitious younger children become upset because they simply did not have the height or skill to climb each floor. Our little Miss 4 was one of those frustrated children, although fortunately she had her 6 year old sister to give her a boost at each level.

The playground is not fenced, so parents and carers do need to be watchful of wandering children, although the nearby laneway is quiet and has shared access. Also there is only one shade cloth, which covers the exit from the giant slide. (Shade was certainly not an issue, however, on the winter morning we visited.)
Wulaba Park is accessible via Amelia Street off O’Dea Avenue. Note: parking is very limited. There are some spots along the edges of the park, although access to the laneway was restricted at the time of our visit due to construction. Construction is ongoing throughout the area and there was some noise and disruption to the park and surrounds on the day we visited. Be prepared to need to walk several blocks to the playground.
Overall, Wulaba Park gets a big thumbs up from these Inner West Kids. And although there are some limitations, it’s a much-needed community resource for this densely developed part of Sydney and has loads of appeal.
All images © Ginny Grant
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