Our Little Man adores animals, and had his heart set on visiting Collingwood Childrens Farm before we arrived in Melbourne.
He had seen some of the Melbourne attractions around the CBD, and Luna Park the night before, so he needed a change of pace. He always loves to feed and pat animals, so a bus ride each way would make for a fun-filled family day out.
We showed our Little Man many of the best things to do in Melbourne with kids, and the Collingwood kids farm proved one of his favourites.
What’s Special About It?
The Collingwood Children’s Farm was set up to introducing kids in Melbourne to farm animals and give themselves a taste of the country. Many of them wouldn’t have had such an opportunity otherwise. It’s also quite small in scale, which gives the Farm a pleasant homely feel.
It has always been run as a not-for-profit enterprise, so it’s not a large commercial tourist attraction. There aren’t a huge number of animals, but they’re all well looked after, and seem very happy to interact with kids.
We also liked the change of environment from the busy city. It’s barely 5 km (3 miles) from the centre of Melbourne, but seems much further removed from the city than it actually is. It’s close to a forested area and a bend in the Yarra River, so you’re surrounded by greenery, and there’s very little traffic noise. The only sounds you hear often are the screeching call of the peacocks and the cackle of the kookaburras.
The walk around the farm also takes you through some lovely gardens. There are also plenty of picnic tables near the farmyard, so you can either bring your own refreshments or order something from the café. It’s a wonderful relaxing place to sit and rest for a while.
What Animals Are There?
You’ll find all the usual farmyard suspects, including chickens, ducks, goats, geese, pigs and sheep. Peacocks strut around while the farm cats skulk in the coolness of the shadows, priming themselves for a night of mousing. There are also some cows grazing in the fields below Abbotsford Convent, a five-minute walk from the farm.
What Activities Are There?
The main event for Sam was undoubtedly the Feed Walk, which started at 2pm and went on for an hour. One of the farm workers conducted the walk. He took the kids around the various enclosures, telling them how to approach the animals and handing out feed. The Feed Walk also takes place at 11.30 am.
It’s worth bearing in mind that the Feed Walk only takes place on weekends, school holidays and Bank holidays. During school term time the only activities are the cow brushing and guinea pig cuddles. The full timetable of events can be found here.
How Long Should We Spend There?
Two hours would be plenty for most kids. However, once our Little Man got going he didn’t want to leave, so we stayed nearly four hours in all.
What Facilities Are There?
There’s a good café on site, serving breakfast, lunch, cakes and drinks. As well as the tables around the café itself, there are picnic tables in a shaded area across the farmyard.
How was Our Visit?
We had a wonderful time, especially after the Feed Walk started. We spent some time walking around the garden and orchard before this, and Sam couldn’t wait to get started. As soon as the Walk started, he was his usual bounding, happy, effervescent self.
We started out next to the chicken coops, with all the kids cupping their hands, eager to feed them through the fence. The kids – and the chooks – all loved every minute of it.
Then everyone turned around to feed the ravenous Anglo Nubian goats. Once their appetites were sated, the twenty or so kids had a wonderful surprise when they were allowed into the field to pat the goats for a while.
Everyone moved on through the farmyard to feed the pigs. There’s not so much interaction with them as Jacob, Maybelle and Myrtle are all prone to accidentally biting the hands that feed them. So the kids all had to throw the feed over the wall for their porcine pals to eat off the floor.
We then spent ten minutes or so in the sheep paddock, which the kids thought was wonderful. One of the sheep, Olive, was particularly amenable and happy to be patted. Once the other sheep saw how popular she was, they all joined in as well.
After a break and an ice cream, Sam was keen to see the cows as well. They were grazing in the fields below the Farm, and it didn’t take long for Sam to spot one of the calves having a siesta. He then found another one sitting next to the fence, and spent a lovely few minutes chatting with it and stroking it.
Would We Go Back?
Absolutely. We feel it’s one of the top things to do in Melbourne for kids, and a great morning or afternoon out for the family.
Tips For Visitors
The best advice we can give is to try time your arrival so that you won’t have to wait long for some of the activities with animals. We ended up having to spend almost an hour there before the Feed Walk, and our Little Man was getting frustrated that he had to wait to feed the animals. As soon as the Feed Walk started he was happy.
When is it open?
It’s open daily from 9.15 am to 4.45 pm, with last entry at 3.30 pm.
The Children’s Farm isn’t actually in Collingwood, Melbourne at all. It’s in the neighbouring suburb of Abbotsford.
We were staying on the edge of Melbourne CBD, and the 200 and 207 buses passed a stop right across the street from us. These happen to be the buses which run closest to the Farm.
They both run along Johnston Street. You need to get off at the Clarke Street stop, which isn’t shown on Google Maps at the moment. The preceding stop is Trenerry Crescent.
Once you’ve turned onto Clarke Street, take the first left onto St Helier’s Street. The Farm is at the end of the street, just past the Abbotsford Convent Arts Centre.
You can also catch the train to Victoria Park station, which is 400 metres back along Johnston Street from the Clarke Street bus stop.
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times. His images are frequently used throughout the world by tourism bodies such as Visit Britain and Visit Wales.