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.
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
Intersection of Bourke and Lackey Streets in North Parramatta NSW 2151
Phone number: 1300 617 058 or 02 9806 5050
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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, specially 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.
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.