Little Melbourne Reviews
2388 Ballan Road, Anakie
Approx. 60 minutes from Melbourne, 25 minutes from Geelong
Open: most days 10am – 4pm. Closed: mid July – end August & Christmas Day
Adults: $16, kids 3+: $8
Despite having visited this hidden gem as a tot myself, I had no idea it had been around for over 50 years. It was opened by Peter Mayer in 1959 and is still run by the Mayer family today. While loads of work has obviously been done to keep it “current” – in a “ye olde worlde” kinda way – the heart of the concept hasn’t changed at all. It’s pretty much as I remembered it some 35 years ago: fairytales displayed behind little windows. They call it Fairytale Land. Just think Myer Christmas windows scattered over a few acres – more than 22 of them! We’re talking all the favs from Goldilocks, to Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and Jack and his stalk. In my day you could walk right into the little houses but at some point the Mayer’s cleverly decided it was much easier to maintain the little displays by glassing them in. All the characters look like originals (i.e. 50+ years old), which I guess makes them antiques. Despite the “look but no touch” update, there is still plenty of opportunity for the little people to get amongst it as each display has its very own button, which needs to be pressed to bring the fairytale to life. So you can expect all the typical jostling over who gets to push the button first. The older kids will enjoy listening to each tale, while the younger ones will just be content watching all the moving parts.
Just like Dorothy, you wind your way along the yellow (beige) brick road up to the top of the hill stopping off at each of the twenty-something displays. Depending on the age of your kids, (and whether or not your choose to skip the odd one or two) the trip will take between 20-40 minutes. It’s super pram friendly, although if your kids are like mine, you’ll likely spend the entire journey pushing your BYO lunch around with the kids meandering in front – or demanding to be carried. At the top, there is a castle with a model train display (apparently a rare collection) – which could do with some love, and a small parlour of ride-on toys (Castle Kids). You know, the kind they like to distribute evilly around shopping centres to inhibit you getting your shopping done? Despite some being antiques and therefore being very cool to look at, there are also the usual suspects that steal your two bucks and give you nothing in return. Therefore, if you want to avoid the drama – just shuffle your party straight past the little room on the right when you reach the top of the hill. If you go all the way to the summit – which isn’t quite as adventurous as it sounds – you get some great 360-degree views of the surrounding country, including the extinct volcano of Mt Anakie.
After making your way back down the hill (there is an express lane so you don’t have to retrace your steps), the final must-do pit stop is Camelot Playground – a recent addition that could have actually kept our kids amused all day. The Mayers really have done a top job creating this very unique medieval-style playground. Not only is it really big, it’s got everything: secret passages, tunnel mazes, a giant slide, a carousel contraption, swings and more. As I said though, it’s big and it also gets very busy, which makes it challenging trying to keep track of multiple little people.
There are eating facilities but it’s the standard “not so healthy” takeaway fare, so my recommendation is BYO. Or another good option is to get a few friends together and do a picnic or a BBQ. There are bunch of electric barby’s and rotundas scattered around the park.
All in all Fairy Park is a great day out. Give yourself at least 2-3 hours there and hit the playground early if you want to avoid the chaos. It’s suitable for 0-12 years but will probably be appreciated most by the 2-10 years bracket.