Best play/nature-based schools/early years centres in NT, TAS, ACT, SA and NSW

As referred by followers on Maggie Dent’s Facebook page September 2017
A summary of people’s comments are listed in bullet points under school names.

Disclaimer: Please note that this list is compiled from comments made by Facebook followers. It is not the opinion of Maggie Dent or her employees, nor are these recommendations to be considered formal endorsements by Maggie Dent. When deciding which school is best for your child, it is important to make your decision based on your individual child – there is no one-size fits all.

However we asked our 100,000+ Facebook followers “Which schools in your state have you observed have a focus on:
* play-based learning in the early years, and / or
* strong nature-based focus in their teaching and learning…”

As these were quite short lists, we’ve compiled several states into one post here:

Here’s what people in these states had to say:


Northern Territory

Dripstone Children’s Centre – Brinkin

  • They have chickens which kids collect the eggs and use towards baking. Vegetable gardens which kids help maintain. Outdoor play area encourages exploring and creative play. Soon they will have wet play area.

Driver Preschool – Driver

  • Recommended for early years
  • Exceptionally brilliant

Gray Child Care Centre – Gray

  • Shouldn’t go without mention. Exceptionally brilliant

Kingdom Kids Early Learning Centre @ Palmerston Christian School – Palmerston

  • Fabulous play based centre for 3-5-year-old. Incorporates environmental play with a ‘river’ and vegetable garden.

Nightcliff Primary School – Darwin

  • Veggie gardens, chickens. Lessons outside in dry season. Amazed at different type of learning environments at this school.


Tasmanian Schools

Tarremah Steiner school – Huntingfield

  • Plentiful space, views of mountain and river, access to creek and bush reserve. Amazing little school with flourishing community.

The Cottage School – Bellerive

  • Lots of play based learning, choosing, regular environment days and school camps. Healthy eating policy, small classes and amazing staff.



ACT Schools

Narrabundah Early Childhood School

  • Recommended

Orana Steiner School – Weston

  • Preschool to year 12

Southern Cross Childhood Centre – Scullin

  • Wonderful little school with play based education for child care to year 2


South Australia Schools

All SA Steiner schools (5 in Adelaide)

  • No academics until their 7th Godsend for my 6-year-old.

Barbara Kiker Memorial Kindy – Kidman Park

  • Fantastic

Black Forest Primary School – Adelaide

  • Recommended

Blair Athol Primary School – Adelaide

  • Recommended

Campbelltown Preschool – Montacute

  • Recommended

John Hartley School – Smithfield Plains

  • Recommended

Lady Gowrie Child Centre – Thebarton and Underdale

  • Great play-based kindy

Stirling District Kindergarten – Stirling

  • Brilliant

Upper Sturt Primary School – Upper Sturt

  • Dedicated bush school with a heritage listed bush block on site. Lots of learning outside and most learning play based.
  • Recommended



Grace Village Early Learning, Huntingwood

The Small School, Murwillumbah

Aetaomah Steiner School – Terragon

  • Small school in expansive bush setting. Creek for kids to play in. Wooden and homemade toys. Two working vegie gardens. Wildlife in the school grounds. Lots of outdoors play. Focus on maintaining kids sense of self-worth and self-esteem and focusing on their individual gifts. Craft, singing, music making, gardening, life movement.

Currambena School – Lane Cove

  • Very inspiring school. Wonderful reputation

Goulburn Preschool – Goulburn

  • Play based, child oriented and innovative staff. Couldn’t recommended it highly enough for 3,4 and 5-year-old

Kiama Preschool

  • Amazing nature and play based centre with close tie to community. Highly recommend.

Kinma School – Terrey Hills

  • Very inspiring school. Wonderful reputation

Lalor Park Community Preschool – Lalor Park

  • Child utopia. No other words to describe how wonderful this place is for our kids

Pottsville Community Preschool – Pottsville

  • Amazing nature and play based centre with close tie to community. Highly recommend.

St Marys School – Milton

  • Started their outdoor learning journey this year.


Image credit: ©️ wckiw /Adobe Stock –