Central Gardens Merrylands: Animals, Playgrounds, Walks + Picnics!

Central Gardens Nature Reserve is often better known simply as Central Gardens Merrylands, and is a much-loved local area of natural beauty.

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Central Gardens Nature Reserve emus walking
Emus at Central Gardens Nature Reserve; the kids’ favourite

Central Gardens is one of the best of Sydney’s free entry wildlife parks.  Seeing the animal enclosures at the Gardens is a highlight for little kids.

There are also beautiful bush trails and two playgrounds. as well as lush grassy spaces, excellent areas for BBQs and picnics and lovely water features to relax beside.

NB  The larger playground is currently closed for an upgrade! Opening late in 2019, it is hoped.

kangaroo at Central gardens merrylands
A red kangaroo relaxing under the trees

Have you visited Central Gardens in Merrylands?

You haven’t?  How daft!  You need to get over there!


Central Gardens Merrylands

Cnr Merrylands Road and Cumberland Highway

Merrylands West 2160

Book picnic areas on the Cumberland Council website here.

Central Gardens Opening Hours:  7.30am – 5pm Monday – Friday and 9am – 5pm at weekends. Until 7pm during daylight savings.  Closed Good Friday and Christmas day.  

Water features operates from 11am – 2pm daily.

Central Gardens is a large park with great playgrounds close to both entrances and a massive open space in the centre.

Central Gardens Wildlife Exhibits: you’ll find the animals close to the Merryland Road entrance and car park.

Opening hours are:  Monday – Friday: 7.30am – 5pm or 7.30am – 7pm in daylight savings.  Weekends:  9am – 5pm pr 8am – 7pm in daylight savings.

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central gardens animal exhibits
All the nocturnal animals were asleep last time we went!!
emu at central gardens merrylands
Not sure this emu thought much of me and my camera
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A grey kangaroo chillaxing in the shade
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Central Gardens Playgrounds

The smaller of the two playground is to the right of the Merrylands Road entrance, beside the Yarrabee picnic area.  It has long, wide ramps, two slides, a rope-grid bridge and spring rockers. The picnic area is shaded and has barbecues.

It is pretty close to the  huge pond full of ducks and other birdlife, plus two fountains and the long waterfall.

 Merryland Central Gardens

The second playground is larger and very good.

To the right of the Paton Street entrance is a third picnic area with barbecues, lots of picnic tables and plenty of tree shade. The larger playground is found here, currently being upgraded.  There are lovely areas to picnic by the river area here.

Central Gardens
Picnics by the water are relaxing
Central Gardens Merrylands waterfalls
The waterfalls at Central Gardens Merrylands
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Love the stepping stones across the river, a treat for little kids!
Central Gardens 2

Central Gardens also has bush trails to follow with interesting interpretative boards. So a visit here can stretch the legs and the mind too!

Nearest takeaway coffee: BYO

Toilets: Toilet blocks beside both playgrounds, the disabled toilet has a baby change table

Shade: Yes

Enclosed: The playgrounds are not enclosed but the gardens themselves are fenced

Dog friendly:  No, dogs are not allowed in the gardens.

Mum’s report: A great spot for a picnic and play, especially if you are meeting friends and family. A trip to see all the animals always goes down well with the children.

Parking: There are car parks near both playgrounds, entry from Merrylands Road and from Paton Street

Bus stop nearby: Yes, at Merrylands Road 


Hope you have enjoyed a look around the lovely playgrounds at Central Gardens Nature Reserve and around the lovely Merrylands animal park there. It is a fun place to visit!

You might like these other playground posts:

Seven Great Cafes Beside Playgrounds

Sydney’s Best Bike Tracks Part 1

Best Fenced Playgrounds – North

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Emus at Central Gardens, clearly having a chat
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An ibis overlooks the animals, probably glad he or she can fly free!

Click the image to find all the best playgrounds in Sydney!

50 Best playgrounds pin

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  1. Australia has hands down the best playgrounds in the world! Been to Perth and these playgrounds looked nicer than most Disney entertainment parks.

    I just followed you on Twitter – looking forward to connect!

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Lovely to meet you! Will pop over to visit your blog too. I agree that our playgrounds here in Oz are just fantastic, much better than most UK ones we have visited though there are some top ones there too.

        1. says: Seana Smith

          I will call Cumberland Council to ask and will add to the article, if you need to know quickly, contact Council’s Parks and Recreation Team by phone on 8757 9000. I will update the article when I know.

  2. says: Lisa Wood

    Playground? Whats a Playground? Can’t remember the last time we were able to visit one with all the rain we have had!
    I am so disappointed in the Playgrounds in the Wollongong area – there is nothing worth visiting besides the Botanical Gardens Playground.
    Can’t wait for the sun to come back out so that we can look for more places to explore – will have to remember Merrylands when we are up in Sydney visiting our older son 🙂

  3. says: Mama Frog


    That park is 18min walk from my house!!! I will try…


    – Isolated incompetent 1st time mum with 5mo Froggie scared to leave the house…

    1. says: Seana Smith

      Get out of the house!! Would you like to have a chat sometime. I found the early days with my first son very hard going. Very sympathetic!

  4. says: Petra L

    This is a great park as both play areas are completely covered with shade. On a hot 30degree day, we enjoyed our time underneath the canopy. However, there are no swings in this park.I am finding it very difficult to find a park where the swings are covered. My son is at the age where he is not walking without assistance and his favourite equipment is the swing, but not ideal now that summer is here.

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