Fairfield Park Boathouse

Basic Info:

Name: Fairfield Park Boathouse and Tea Gardens
Address: Fairfield Park Drive, Fairfield
Phone: 9486 1501
Website: www.fairfieldboathouse.com
Opening Hours:
Monday to Friday - 9am - 5pm
Saturday & Sunday - 8.30am - dusk

Little Eats ‘soundbite review’:

A touch of history and fun for the whole family set on the banks of the Yarra in picturesque surrounds. Hop in a boat, feed the duckies, ride the vintage coin rides, play in the park then spoil them with a spider, banana split or traditional Devonshire tea.

Highchair: Yes
Change table: Sort of...
Pram access: Yes
Separate kids menu: Yes
Normal menu suitable for kids: Yes
Friendly staff: Hmm...
Play area for kids: Yes
Activities provided for kids (eg: crayons): Yes
Vibe/atmosphere: Historical, picturesque, charming, relaxed, quiet
Prices: Standard to expensive
Other: Available for functions, events and children's birthday parties

Little Eats detailed review:

Our Sunday morning family outing for brunch and babycino’s at the beautiful historic Fairfield Boathouse on the banks of the Yarra sounds rather relaxed, fun and frivolous. First there was a “Boatman’s breakfast” on the BBQ complete with eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, mushrooms, potato and tomato, which some may call rustic or homely, and a very expensive babycino ($2 and no marshmallow!). Followed by a couple of rides for the little one, then feeding the duckies, admiring the ducklings, a walk through the bush, a run on the grass and then a play in the playground. The overall experience of the Fairfield Boathouse and what is on offer for groups, families and for the little ones is fantastic fun and our toddler certainly had a gay old time.

There’s room for prams, and even more room for groups, no changing facilities but there was a random cafe table in the disabled loos which we chose to interpret as a change table and highchairs too (the same as the one we have at home, the trendy Danish Handysitt which I was surprised to see as most other cafes have the cheaper reproduction versions).

There’s also a special “Little Nipper” kid sized BBQ breakfast, sausage in a roll, burgers, pizza and nachos for lunch, milkshakes, smoothies and big old fashioned spiders to drink, ice cream sundae’s and banana splits for a cool treat on a summers day and traditional Devonshire tea.

Of course there are row boats for hire, and even parasols too, but more fun for the wee ones includes two old school vintage coin rides, a pony and a giraffe (just like Sophie) and at only 40c a ride it is dirt cheap, which of course meant our little one had three rides all up, bringing the grand total to just $1.20, so much cheaper than the Wiggles Big Red Car outside Coles which is $2! You can also buy duck food for 50c so you can feed the duckies and watch them ducking, dipping, diving and looking after their sweet little ducklings. The playground, picnic tables and BBQ’s in the park next door complete the family friendly package.

However, kid friendly amenities and fun stuff for the kidlets aside, it must be said our experience at the cafe was a little confusing and disorganised.

Our morning went a little bit like this...

Found a suitable table on the verandah overlooking the river, sat down, wondered what to do for a moment, if there were any highchairs or where a menu was, got up and looked around for a staff member, couldn’t find one on the floor (yet there were a few just hanging behind the counter), headed inside where people seemed to be lining up for coffees and drinks, lined up to ask a simple question about how the whole bloody thing works, found out the menu was on a board outside at the BBQ where you have to go to order your food (even if you’re not ordering from the BBQ and just wanted a croissant or fruit toast) as well as pay but then you have to go back inside to order and pay for your drinks separately, so after finding that out I went out to look at the menu to decide what I wanted, then went back to hubby and little one at the table, then he went out to look at menu and order and pay and was told to come back in 15 minutes to collect the food (no numbers on a stick pub style and no electronic gadgets a la Brunetti’s), then he was back inside to order and pay for our coffees, waited for the coffees, back to the table, then forgot the babycino, so went back inside to line up again, then back to table, by then I was breastfeeding the baby and was feeling a bit thirsty and in need of a glass of water, so he got up again to find a jug and water glasses inside, there weren’t any, so he had to line up again to ask for a glass of water which they had to get from behind the counter (this could at least have been self service like everything else), then back to the table to deliver to thirsty old me, then back outside to see if the food was ready yet, no it wasn’t, back to the table, then back again to check, no not yet, back again third time, yes it was ready... phew, finally... are you exhausted just by reading that?!

It really is a great place to visit with little ones and is fun for the whole family, but there definitely needs to be an even or greater adults to kids ratio in order to assist with the ordering system and lack of customer service.

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