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The Monash Adventure Park Playground – Serious Fun!

“I used to love going here as a kid, so sad my daughter will never know how good it WAS!!!”

The ‘Adventure Park Playground” at Monash brings back a lot of happy memories for many Adelaide and country families.

It was started in the late 60’s by engineer, Grant Telfer and was developed over a twenty year period at an estimated cost of $150,000. Grant did most of the work himself and thinking back to some of the playground equipment he created, it surely must have been a ‘one-off’ in the world.

“We had a ball there. Very sad Its gone and our kids have missed out. They only get to play on the pathetic replacement that is nice to look at but not a patch on the original. It was fun for all ages.”

Thousands of children and adults swarmed to the park near Berri every year. It was just as much fun for the adults as it was for the kids. In videos which have been posted on You Tube, you can see fathers and mothers joining in with the kids on the dozens of free rides that were available.

“OMG .. this was just fantastic … drive hundreds of kms to have a day of FREE FUN .. Pity insurance killed it .. wonder how many made a claim when they got injured, doubt if anyone cared .. it was just so much fun”

Photo from Wikipedia. One of the rides eventually removed because it was felt it was too dangrous

Photo from Wikipedia. One of the rides eventually removed because it was felt it was too dangrous

I have vivid recollections of our own camping trips in the Riverland during the school holidays with our children and a big highlight of the trip was the day spent in the free playground with its giant spiral slides, see-saws, flying foxes, fun slides and the roller coaster.

“This was the BEST. One of the things from my childhood that I truly regret is no longer around for my own kids”.

Much of the play equipment was made from scrap metal, was cleverly designed and offered something different to your average children’s playground. Despite its immense popularity the park was closed in 1992 due (I believe), to insurance and injury claims. Another “safer” version of the park has since re-opened.

“That used to be sooo cool. Went there in about 1982 and then again a few years later and couldn’t believe how much it had been watered down. That’s the results of a few idiots spoiling it for the rest of us”.

Photo from John Goodridge, Flickr Photo Sharing. Thousands of children and adults swarmed to the park near Berri every year. It was just as much fun for the adults as it was for the kids

Photo from John Goodridge, Flickr Photo Sharing. Thousands of children and adults swarmed to the park near Berri every year. It was just as much fun for the adults as it was for the kids

I wonder if the playground that replaced it has 300,000 visitors per year or inspire people to drive hundreds of kilometers to play, as the original playground did?

One can only hope the idea that now seems to be slowly gaining momentum, that wrapping children in cotton wool may in fact be harming their future, will mean that one day we’ll see the return of things like the original Monash Adventure Park.

32 Responses to The Monash Adventure Park Playground – Serious Fun!

  1. Phillip Leishman November 24, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    I drove a coach laid of elderly tourists there in about the late 80,s on our way back from Perth. They loved it, just like kids they were!

  2. trudy tuckwell November 24, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    such a terrible shame what a trip that place was for me and my family , nothing else like it

  3. Trev November 24, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    A lot of that equipment ended up at a playground near Mildura called Snakes and Ladders but alas that’s gone too now.

  4. michelle vivian November 24, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

    omg those were the years and the times of my life that i had not fear. i remember standing at the top of the giant slide, it made me feel free and like i was top of the world and who can forget the steel animal rides. i am very sad that my children will not experience the real innocence of play that my siblings and i enjoyed. it would be amazing if they brought back the original park, just so us oldies can go and have another play.

  5. Andrew Salman November 24, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    I remember visiting my grandparents in Glossop and we would beg Dad to take us there. There was an insane carriage on tracks that would kill you stone dead if you stepped in front of it, awesome spinners and slippery dips you had to just about climb ladders into the clouds to reach. We had the most wonderful fun as kids holding on for dear life. Regrettably there are individuals who haven’t learned to engage their brains when trying something risky and the “it’s not my fault” culture spelled the demise for this incredible playground. At least we still have the Happy memories!

  6. Lisa November 25, 2014 at 9:15 am #

    Dad told me of the day as a four year old I climbed up the giant slide, it taught me valuable lessons of consequence and calculated risk taking. They were the days where kids could be kids.
    Took our own cotton wool kids there not long ago. Kudos to park management as they have made it really beautiful, but Monash Adventure playground it ain’t. What a shame the stupid irresponsible had it watered down for the rest of us.

  7. Jill November 25, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    I remember how terrifying some of the rides seemed when you first saw them, but we loved them. Mind you, we always said it was a place your parents took you if they didn’t like you.

  8. Robert Harris November 25, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    As kid I saw this fantastic playground develop and we had something that put Monash on the map. We were smart enough to recognize the level of risk for our actions on the equipment and if we did something stupid we deserved the consequences. Unfortunately some people were no longer responsible for their own behavior and action and if they hurt themselves it was somebody else’s responsibility and had to sue & blame someone else for their own stupidity. It was a great adventure playground and missed when it closed due to the high premiums for public liability insurance.

  9. Wal Lehmann November 25, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    It was a different time & place.
    I grew up on a fruit property in Monash – I went to the Monash Primary School
    The Playground did put Monash on the map – no longer were we a little town between Barmera and Berri.
    We had an identity outside of the Riverland, outside of South Australia , and internationally .
    Monash – a great town with wonderful memories. Wal

    • Alison Halupka November 26, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      Hello Wally Lehmann – Ali Halupka here (nee Telfer) from Monash. Great to “hear” from you. You were a few years older than me.

  10. Judy Collins November 25, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    I broke my arm at the Monash playground but it was only dangerous if you where doing the wrong thing lol we use to hang off the outside of the huge metal cones ie the one that got taken away because we would disregard the sign that said “Do NOT hang on outside of cones hence why I was thrown off causing me to rip half my face off and break my arm. The playgroung closed because of the wankers who sued argh.. My Aunty still lives in Monash and it is a shame I cant take my kids there but I willll never forget the fun my cousins and I had xx

    • Kerri February 1, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

      lol i was the same, went on the massive slide after it finished raining & hit the bottom really fast & twisted my ankle but did we sue? nooooo i was silly & it was my own fault. i agree it was only unsafe if you weren’t behaving properly on it 🙂

  11. Debbie November 25, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    what a shame!!! So many good memories, my parents took me and my brother there when we were kids. Had such a blast there

  12. Helen November 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    I loved that playground! I remember the steel being red hot an no one cared. A true tourist attraction that you DID something. Thank you for the memories.

  13. Becky November 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    I loved that place! We used to come to the Riverland to visit family every year, and without fail would go to Monash playground.

  14. Emma P November 25, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

    We went there every year on the way home from visiting my Aunty in Renmark. We would spend the entire day there and we didn’t care how hot the equipment was, it was the best fun ever. Then after the heat got too much we would go across the road to the deli and end the day with a slush puppy!

  15. Tracy Breed November 25, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    I lived across the road from the playground, way back when!! We had an absolute ball, we were daring and courageous (at times a lot reckless), we helped Mr. Telfer out with the waxing of the slides, and we had fun… Sure there were some bruises and burnt legs (the summer sun was fierce and the steel red-hot), but we loved every part of it!
    To those who suffered injury and sued, you read the sign as you went in didn’t you?? That you were responsible for your own safety, and needed to act in a responsible manner… many of the pieces had warning signs on them, giving you a what not to do list; if you did not follow those instructions, then your safety was on your own head, not on Mr Telfer’s.
    Still it is all done and dusted now, and the watered down version of a truly iconical park is pleasant; It is however not exciting at all!!!!

  16. tamara November 25, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    I remember one time my dad tricked my uncle to get into one of those giant spinning things [2nd picture]. Said he would hop in too. And then just spun my uncle around and around and around.

  17. Rose November 26, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    I loved that place! I took my kids there in about 2008, not realizing that it was so terrible now. We drove all that way for what I promised them was such a wonderful playground … only to find the current, terrible excuse for a playground. It’s no wonder kids are so fat nowadays when they are so wrapped in cotton wool.

  18. Alison Halupka November 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    So proud of my Dad who built the old Monash Playground. See more photos and memories on “The Old Monash Playground” facebook page. He had such a vivid imagination when it came to making playground equipment. It started with just a few small swings and slippery dips – you know, just the usual old small playground stuff. Then he built a couple of larger items, one being 3 different slides off one 15′ high tower.

    The different equipment brought families from other Riverland towns and line-ups started occurring. Dad hates line-ups so he built more stuff, different seesaws, spring based animals, rotary cones. That brought tourists from outside the area … and more line ups. So more equipment was made. The roller coaster, flying foxes, bigger slides, even more variations of rotary cones and seesaws etc.

    The playground ended up covering an area of 5 acres and in school holidays and long weekends it was packed! Delighted squealing from kids and adults filled the air. It was free to enter and open 24 hrs, 7 days per week, 365 days per year (even xmas day).

    Yes – a few nothing-type insurance claims spoilt it for hundreds of thousands of people. The few claims were pathetic but then the insurance company got nervous and refused to renew the insurance cover. That put Dad at great risk. Too bad that he’d provided such an awesome facility and never made a cent from it. But society in general has headed down that ‘who can we sue’ path. It’s a sad and, to me. frustrating part of current day life. People need to learn to take much more responsibility for their own lives and choices.

    My dad is a wonderful man. How lucky am I to have him for my inspiration : -)

    • Pamela June 26, 2017 at 9:43 pm #

      Well written Alison of your brilliant Dad who designed the Best Unique Giant Playground for children & adults to enjoy and have fun. People from all over Australia & overseas shared his unique & amazing playground. So wonderful to watch & reminensce his cleverly designed creations.
      A HUGE Thank You from all of us.

  19. Cathy Smith November 26, 2014 at 11:24 pm #

    WOW…… is what i thought when I first set eyes on this park as a kid……. it was the best family holiday that money could buy and my sister and I loved it….. staying at the caravan park…and riding the tandem bikes…. i cant recall how many times we climbed up and slid down the slides….they were the best…. I so wish I could take my own kids there… 🙁 so sad…. Unfortunately there are and will always be people out there to wreck it for others….. i do get to take my girls to st kilda park…. that is something I suppose. … 🙂

  20. Angela November 27, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    i still have photos of our many trips to the Monash Playground. The massive slides, the flying foxes, the train track bin rides, the massive giraffes and the climbing frames that when you reached the top you thought you could touch the sky. We didn’t think about consequences we just had loads of fun. It’s sad to think everything is about money and how to get a quick buck out of someone by suing them these days and that just ruined Monash Adventure Park for future generations. I only wish that it was still the same as when I was little so my kids could enjoy the imaginative play that we did when we were young not being inside playing gadgets all day. If only hey. Memories live on in us forever and in some way through our stories iand photos t will live on through the generations too.

  21. debra November 27, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    I have an absolutely beautiful photo of 3 generations on one of the swings. my grandmother in her 70s, my mother & eldest sistwr. we had a fantastic day. i can remember going to monash playground & having such wonderful fun.. so disappointed when it closed.

  22. Rick November 27, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

    I can remember going there with my siblings and father during the school holidays, sitting on the hessian sack while sliding down scalding hot equipment that’s been baking on a 30°+ day and those black grape seeds slowly cooking on the ground and permeating the air. Laughing until my sides hurt and pushing the limits of my mortality while on the oversized equipment and loving every minute of it. Years of enjoyment I had at that place from my early childhood into my early twenties. And then ‘Sue’ became more than just a girls name and Monash became just another town in the Riverland. I can’t help but wonder if those people that sued are feeling any guilt for ruining it for the rest of humanity. Long gone are the days of that wonderful place and sadly, I doubt that place will ever be restored to its former glory; the insurance companies would never allow such a thing these days.

    P.S. A most sincere thank you to the creator/s of that playground, Grant Telfer and his co-workers. Thank you for the wonderful memories.

  23. Lyndy November 27, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

    We spent many hours at Monash as kids.
    If I remember correctly there was a fish shop across the road.
    Very clever entertaining wonderland. Shame it gone

  24. michele December 12, 2014 at 12:29 am #

    monash playground was such a great place..

  25. Peter H December 14, 2014 at 3:42 am #

    My older brother and his then girlfriend took my sister and myself there a few times in the 1980’s. Loved every damn minute of it and usually came home needing a wash and change of clothes as it often rained when we were there lol.

  26. Rhonda July 30, 2015 at 9:02 am #

    who thinks they can make (weld), some equipment like this ? I want to meet you !

  27. Andy January 21, 2018 at 8:23 pm #

    The monster slide was awesome!

  28. Marcus Jones October 27, 2018 at 10:23 pm #

    I was 7 when my family stopped at the playground whilst driving from Sydney to Adelaide in early 80s. It was a week day outside school holidays so we practically had the whole park to ourselves.
    Dad lifted me onto the flying fox, which I had to hang off by my hands, my feet above the ground. Dad gave me a little push and off I went…..faster than anyone expected… he ran after me but I hit the end and the flying fox stopped but I kept going and flipped, landed on my back shocked and winded. Cried. But that was dead set the best park I had ever seen.

  29. Jeffro January 9, 2019 at 11:50 am #

    I remember the roller coaster run from childhood…was the best ride there

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