Clifton Gardens: Beach and Baths, Reserve and Fantastic Playground

Clifton Gardens at Chowder Bay in Mosman is one of our family’s favourite Sydney Harbour beaches… it’s right up there with Balmoral Beach for us.

The kids’ annual primary school Picnic Day was always held at Clifton Gardens too, and it was a regular school holiday haunt too.

Clifton Gardens Mosman beach playground
Clifton Gardens; kids playing at the netted baths area

Clifton Gardens Beach, Baths + Reserve Overview

Clifton Gardens Reserve has a lovely playground and heaps of space to play, so it’s a terrific destination at any time of the year.

The only downside to Clifton Gardens is the high cost of the large car park, it is extortionate and Mosman Council should be ashamed of themselves for charging visitors so much. See tips on free parking below.

Whenever my kids are at a beach, they seem so free, we all do. ‘Stay wild, ocean child’ is one of my fave beach quotes.

Grab a cuppa as there’s lots to read here and a map at the end.

Clifton Gardens swim jetty
Yes, that’s my son taking a huge dive off the jetty at Clifton Gardens

Clifton Gardens Beach and Baths

Morella Road Clifton Gardens 2088

One of the loveliest harbour beaches, a long slim stretch of sand with a lengthy jetty, a swimming enclosure, a playground and the huge Clifton Gardens Reserve behind.

Clifton Gardens is a secluded beach and you have to wiggle through the back streets of Mosman to find it, do check out the map below. This is part of its charm, it feels like a secret hideaway.

From the beach there are wonderful views over to Neilsen Park and the Eastern Suburbs, as well as the constant buzz of the harbour with the Manly ferries ploughing by.

Rocky bush-covered headlands enclose each end of the beach with bush behind, so the birdlife is plentiful and one feels far away from the big smoke.

Clifton Gardens Mosman beach playground

The swimming enclosure covers one-half of the beach, the other half is open. The jetty is used by fishermen and is a lovely area for children to explore with their parents.

There is often a bit of litter and debris in the baths area, but on the other hand the jetty is great for jumping off!

The large and flat reserve has lots of lovely trees, picnic tables, an excellent playground, and space for games, bikes and general zooming around.

The car park is at one side of the reserve and there is no other road so this is a very safe place for kids.

Clifton Gardens Mosman beach playground
Playing in the sand at Clifton Gardens

Are dogs allowed at Clifton Gardens?   Dogs are allowed to be exercised off the leash all day Monday to Friday, and before 9am and after 4pm Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays on the grassed areas of Clifton Gardens Reserve.

Dogs are permitted off-leash on the beach and in the water east of the Clifton Gardens jetty at the following times:

  • before 9am and after 4pm weekdays during winter
  • Before 9am and after 6pm weekdays during daylight savings summer months (Oct – Mar)

Dogs must be under the effective control of a competent person at all times.

Clifton Gardens dogs beach
Owners and dogs enjoy the beach at Clifton Gardens
Clifton Gardens Beach playground reserve 9
There is a wheelchair ramp down to the netted baths area.
images shows board with information about marine life at Chowder Bay
Information boards explain the rich marine life of Chowder Bay and the White’s seahorse re-introduction into seahorse hotels which is happening here
20121130 Clifton Gardens reserve
The gorgeous reserve with its picnic tables and shelters on a busy day.
the large climbing structure at Clifton Gardens playground
This large climbing structure and slide are the main event at Clfton Gardens playground

Clifton Gardens Reserve Playground

This very modern playground is particularly good for older children, but littler ones will find things to do, especially in the fenced toddler area.  The softfall is all sand, so bring beach toys too and the littlies will enjoy playing under the shade cloths.

My teenager and his friends enjoy a play here too.  Some of the rope climbing frames are really exciting, as are the very modern seesaws.  There is a liberty swing here, enclosed in its own area.  There are plenty of swings but surprisingly none in the toddler area.

Clifton Gardens Beach playground reserve 3
The spiders web climbing frame are extensive
Clifton Gardens Beach playground reserve 1
Kids love the sailing boat too
Clifton Gardens Beach playground reserve 2
The inground roundabout is small but popular
Clifton gardens liberty swing
The Liberty swing at Clifton Gardens
Clifton Gardens beach
The beach which is not netted is on the east side, and beyond it you can see the cafe and the old buildings where the lovely restaurant Ripples Chowder Bay is.

Clifton Gardens Information

Clifton Gardens Walks: there are beautiful walks that you can start or end at Clifton Gardens, see book mentioned at the end of the post

Clifton Gardens Reserve: There are picnic tables and plenty of shade from the big old trees on the reserve.  Heaps of space for the energetic to play cricket, footie etc, plus the superb playground.

Clifton Gardens Cafe: There is often an ice cream van on the reserve, and there is a kiosk at the east side of the beach where the Chowder Bay restaurants are. However, it is sometimes open and sometimes closed so cannot be relied upon. BYO coffee and picnic.

Toilets + change rooms: Yes, very large ones with spacious change rooms and showers

Shade: Trees on reserve, plus some shade from the cliffs at the eastern end of the beach

Shark net: Yes

Fishing at Clifton Gardens: Fishing is permitted and many people enjoy fishing off the jetty. Please do use the fishing rubbish bins and do not litter and pollute the water.

Mum’s report: This is a lovely safe spot for kids. But do watch the jetty—it’s nerve-wracking watching a toddler set off at high speed along the jetty alone!  Once you have older children the jetty is the main attraction for them.

Extra: Taronga Park Zoo is a short drive away. The gorgeous Gunners Barracks is a short drive away, you can have a wonderful morning tea or high tea there before or after your beach excursion.

Clifton Gardens parking: car park beside the beach. Very expensive. Chares depend on time of year and which day you visit, the top hourly rate for summer weekends is currently $10 an hour or $40 for all day. The car park can also get VERY busy so may be full if you do not get there early. Sometimes I have chosen to pay for the full day parking since there are no other costs involved, it’s not a badly priced day out really.

Finding free parking: If you decide not to spend money on the car park then my best advice is to come with two adults, drop off the bags and kids with one adult in the car park and then the driver goes back up the hill and parks in the surrounding streets where there are no parking limits. At the end of the visit, one adult then climbs up the hill with no bags and then drives the car down to the car park to pick up the kids and bags.

Clifton Gardens opening hours:  the car park gate at the Morella Road entrance to Clifton Gardens Reserve is locked at 9.30pm and opened at 6am each day.

Bus stop nearby: Yes, check out or use the Tripview app.

Clifton Garden reserve

Clifton Gardens Map

When you visit Clifton Gardens Sydney Harbour spreads out before you, busy and colourful, yet you feel so far from the city. It really is a special place.

Would you and the kids leap off the jetty here?

Or play in the shallows instead?

You might also like to look through the list of family-friendly walks described here on Hello Sydney Kids.

To find many other kid-friendly Sydney beaches, click here.

Clifton Gardens Beach playground reserve
Here’s a last view of the playground!

Share with a friend

Join the Conversation


Leave a comment
Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *