Lake Parramatta Reserve, a beautiful oasis in Western Sydney

With 75 hectares of bushland to discover, Lake Parramatta Reserve is an easy destination for families who like to enjoy nature without having to leave the city. 

Lake Parramatta is a heritage-listed man-made reservoir which was constructed across Hunts Creek in 1856. The amazing semi-circular dam wall is quite unique and well-preserved. From the viewing platform you can see its grandeur. The dam provided Parramatta’s water supply until 1909. 

Lake Parramatta 4
Parramatta Lake itself is 10.5 hectares in size and is open for public swimming and water recreation activities.

Lake Parramatta Reserve

Despite having driven hundreds of times along James Ruse Drive, I had never realised that the reserve was so close to this main road until the day that I went to the reserve with my daughters. Lake Parramatta Reserve is a beautiful, hidden oasis in the middle of Western Sydney.

For active families, there is plenty to do at the reserve. Take your children for a walk to discover the local flora and fauna, hire one of the kayaks or rowboats or swim in the designated swimming area. Then, reward yourself at the cafe and enjoy the views from the verandah.

Parramatta Lake Reserve is a great picnic spot for friends and family gatherings, as it offers several barbecues and shelters. Furthermore, the reserve has a little playground and some cute animal sculptures, which kids love.

Lake Parramatta Reserve

Address: Intersection of Bourke and Lackey Streets in North Parramatta NSW 2151

Phone number: 1300 617 058 or 02 9806 5050

Council website page, click here

By Mireia Garriga Seguranyes

Lake Parramatta is only 2km from the Parramatta CBD. For Western Sydneysiders, a visit to Lake Parramatta is the perfect way to enjoy a beautiful day by the water, without having to drive through congested roads to a beach.  Also, from the Inner West, it is only a short drive. 

Lake Parramatta 5

Lake Parramatta Reserve is a hidden gem. In fact, it is recognised as one of the most significant bushland remnants in Western Sydney. The reserve is well maintained by Parramatta Council, which has been improving the reserve over the years including the water quality.

The reserve is open every day of the year and features barbecues and picnic facilities, bushwalking tracks, a cafe, water activities, swimming area and a playground.

Barbecues and picnic facilities

There are several barbecues and picnic facilities in the reserve. If you are looking for some shade, the best spot is the one close to the toilet block. But, if you prefer a barbecue with a view and some room for your children to play around, the barbecues opposite to the swimming area are the best.

Lake Parramatta 6
Shaded picnic tables and BBQs

Bushwalking tracks

For an active day, the reserve offers three trails. The longest walk is the Lake Circuit Walk that loops around the entire lake. The other two walks, the Banksia Track and the She Oak Track are much shorter and suitable for families who don’t have previous hiking experience.

Lake Parramatta 1
A nice walk is to do a section of the circuit walk, starting at viewing platform. Walk in a clockwise direction up to track number 16, and observe the recreation reserve from this site of the lake.

While these bushwalking tracks are not extremely difficult, please pay attention to uneven surfaces and areas that might be close to the water, especially if your children are not yet confident swimmers.

Lake Parramatta
Easy bushwalking at Lake Parramatta

Lake Parramatta Cafe  

The Lake Parramatta Cafe is a family-friendly cafe with a beautiful deck overlooking the lake. The staff are very patient with the children. The menu includes kids’ meals, delicious burgers, wraps, sandwiches and gelato.

Lake Parramatta 10

Water activities at Lake Parramatta

Lake Parramatta Rowboats are located at the wharf of the lake. It is open on Saturday and Sundays from 10am to 5pm (Note: last hire is at 4pm), and they offer rowboats, SUPs, single and double kayaks, canoes and pedal boats for hire. You don’t need to make any booking, just turn up. Pedal boats are the best option for young families, as they can hold two adults and two children.

Lake Parramatta 2
Hiring boats at the lake

Swimming at Lake Parramatta

Lake Parramatta Reserve is a great place to cool off when soaring temperatures in summer. The first two photos in this article show the swimming reserve. The water is refreshing and surprisingly clear. The entrance of the swimming area is very shallow, which is good for little kids. The rocks and pebbles can be a bit slippery, so if you have water shoes you might like to wear them. 

During summer lifeguards are on duty at the swimming area. For 2020 – 2021 here are the dates and times: 

  • Saturday 31 October 2020 – Friday 4 December 2020:  Saturday – Sunday    9am – 5pm
  • Saturday 5 December 2020 – Tuesday 26 January 2021: Monday – Sunday    9am – 6pm    
  • Wednesday 27 January 2021 – Sunday 28 March 2021: Saturday – Sunday    9am – 5pm

Swimmers use Lake Parramatta at their own risk. Check the website here for safety information and current updates.

Note: Remember always to swim only in the designated swimming area and avoid swimming for three days after heavy rains.

Lake Parramatta 3
But what makes the Lake Parramatta Reserve a really great place to go with children is that lifeguards are on duty from late October to late March / early April, from 9am to 6pm, every weekend, on public holidays and during school holidays.

Lake Parramatta playground

The playground is located at the top of the reserve, opposite the toilet block and near the overflow parking. The location is not ideal due to the proximity of the car park but there is a barrier between the playground and road.

Lake Parramatta 7

While it is not a big playground, it has enough elements for young kids to have a good time. The playground consists of two separate structures that have a slide, pretend shops, interactive play boards, steering wheels, xylophone, abacus, climbing wall and monkey bars. There is also a set of swings, a single see-saw and a liberty swing.

Lake Parramatta 8

Mum’s report: Parramatta Lake Reserve ticks all the boxes. The reserve is well maintained, ideal for picnics or having a barbecue. It offers a small playground including a special swing for children on a wheel-chair, water activities and a supervised swimming area from October to April. The reserve is dog friendly, but dogs need to be on a leash. Also, there is a cafe with a kids menu and Italian ice cream where you can enjoy the views of the reserve from the veranda. 

Extra: The southern shore of the Lake Parrmatta is also home of the Arrunga Bardo Bushfood Garden, the purpose of which is to educate visitors about the local and traditional sources of food, medicines and tools. There is a self-guided walk here.

Other fabulous ideas to discover Parramatta:

Read this Seana’s fantastic article about a day out at Parramatta Park 

Or, find the best things to do in Parramatta with kids here

Lake Parramatta Details Roundup

Access: gate at entry.

Gate opens: 6:30 am

Gate closes: 7:30 pm during day light savings, 5:30p m the rest of the year.

Toilets: Yes, including accessible toilets and baby change room.

Nearest takeaway coffee: Yes, at the Parramatta Lake Cafe.

Playground: Yes

Shade: There are plenty of trees next to the open grassy areas. The playground is quite exposed, so take hats with you.

Dogs: They are allowed on a leash.  Note: during fox baiting periods, dogs are prohibited.

Bus stop nearby: Bus route number 609 stops at Bourke Street.

Car park: At the park entrance. Also, there are several spots down the hill close to the lake, but you have to be really lucky to find one as they are ultra convenient, especially if you have very young children. If both the car park and these spots are full, you should be able to find street parking nearby.

Tip: Go to the reserve early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as it can get very busy at the weekends.

Lake Parramatta 9

Some Sundays I feel too lazy to drive far. So, going to Lake Parramatta is the perfect excursion for us. It has so much to offer and almost everything is free.

Do you know any other recreation places similar to this reserve? We would love to hear from you.

Share with a friend

Leave a comment

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