There is so much to do at Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre. It is a fun and engaging way for your toddler to learn about nature and the environment through play.
Address: 149 Acacia Road, Karawatha QLD 4117
Time from Ormeau HQ: 27 minutes (29.4km)
Contacts: 07 3178 0330 Email Website
Hours: Open from 9am to 4pm Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday)
Karawatha Forest Park is home to Queensland’s first nature play space and Discovery Centre located on Brisbane’s Southside. There are so many nature based activities I don’t think one visit would ever be enough and each visit is sure to be unique.
Discover all that is on offer at Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre:
Nature Play Space
Once you leave the carpark and start walking up the well signed pathway to the Discovery Centre, you will pass one sheltered picnic area the next thing you will discover is the Karawatha Nature Play Space.
This play space is not at all like your traditional playgrounds. Set amongst the surrounding bushland it features a dry river bed style water play area, tree stumps, fallen log and rock climbing structures as well as scattered bronze animal sculptures to discover.
The Discovery Centre itself is bright fun and encourages learning through discovery. The centre is full of interactive displays including a night-time audio visual experience room and a virtual reality experience giving a bird’s eye view of Karawatha Forest. Check out the video or photo gallery below to get a much better idea of how appealing this space and its vast array of exhibits would be to your toddler.
Events for Kids
There is also a range of free nature based events available to the public at the centre. You can book in for Parent and kids outdoor fitness fun, guided walks and bush kindy. Check out upcoming events for Infants and Toddlers and events for pre-schoolers .
The centre also offers some great community programs including a free native plants program nursery for BCC rates payers and a community composting hub. For more details on these programs visit the Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre web page.
Karawatha Forest Park would be great for a kindy, playgroup or mother’s group outing. With visitor numbers limited to a maximum of 30 people, all events and activities must be booked online to ensure adequate social distancing. Enquire about a group booking using this online form. They may even be able to tailor a group experience and may arrange for extra activities subject to staff and volunteer availability.
Other reasons to go back or extend your visit are the several sheltered picnic / BBQ areas and the eight forest walking tracks. The tracks range from 1 to 2.5kms in length. All the tracks are an easy grade except the Rocks Circuit which has steps so it is graded moderate. If you decide to use the walking tracks remember to look up as the hollows in older eucalyptus provide nesting spots for gliders, possums, bats and owls.
Oh and I forgot to mention – the Brisbane City Council provides all this great nature fun for your toddler for free!
The nature play space seems really simple and I wasn’t sure my toddlers would be that interested. They had a blast discovering the animal sculptures, climbing on things, discovering and entering holes and crevices and manipulating the various terrains. It is a great space to let your toddler lead the play through their own discovery and imagination.
Our next stop was Bush Kindy held on the central picnic lawn. On researching the centre before our visit I discovered the events on offer and booked the kids into Bush Kindy to maximise our visit. Both the kids loved Bush Kindy – they hunted for “wool” worms to feed the birds in their nest, then made a birds nest and birds from clay and collected sticks, grass, leaves and other scavenged bits of nature. Then came story time, some yoga and a game before the session concluded. I highly recommend you check out what’s on at the centre before your visit so you can plan around available events and pre-book your tickets.
The Discovery Centre is bright and inviting for small children. It is full of things to see, touch and discover. You could easily spend hours looking at everything and discovering everything it contains. There is night time theatre room which might be a little intimidating for small children but definitely worth a try but I suggest keeping the children close when first entering so they don’t freak out to begin with. You could prepare a scavenger hunt sheet before you go to use within the centre and outside for your visit. Check out Fun Things for Toddler on Pinterest for some scavenger hunt ideas.
There are no food outlets onsite so be sure to pack your snacks, water bottles and depending on your length of stay a picnic or BBQ lunch. Other good things to remember for your visit are enclosed walking shoes, wide brimmed hats and insect repellent.
Some Mums have suggested Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre is a good destination for rainy days but I would disagree. The number one reason is the walk up to the Discovery Centre from the carpark whilst not difficult isn’t short either. I would find it difficult to manage with two toddlers, our gear for the day and an umbrella in the rain. Plus you can better experience everything on offer i.e. nature play space, picnic areas, walking tracks, events and the indoor Discovery Centre on a fine day. My recommendation would be to save your visit for a nice day.
Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre would also be an interesting venue option for a toddler birthday party. I would suggest you make contact with centre staff to discuss further if you are interested in this idea.
Despite being a little further afield for us Gold Coasters Karawatha Forest Discovery Centre is well worth the additional travel time. We will be back another fine day to try out the walking tracks, attend another event and rediscover the centre and nature play space.
What to pack (suggestions)
- Hats and Sunscreen
- Fully enclosed walking shoes
- Insect repellent
- Water Bottles
- Snacks and/or Packed Picnic or BBQ lunch (no food outlets onsite)
- Ride on trike and bikes and/or prams if using nature trails