Things To Do in Picton and Thirlmere
By Fiona Kirsch
The time driving in a car with kids is crucial to the success of a good day trip. We discovered a perfect weekend day trip, to Picton. Less than a 1.5 hour drive from Sydney, Picton is part of the Wollondilly shire which also covers the nearby picturesque Thirlmere.
There is a lot of history in the area which includes many historic landmarks dating back to the 1800’s. It is a very beautiful little place of the world just outside of Sydney.
Picton and Thirlmere also make a super easy weekend away for families, the drive is so short yet you are right in the middle of the countryside and it’s very pretty.
So we will start with looking at places to stay in and around Picton and Thirlmere, then go on to the many lovely things to do there. Use the Table of Content here to navigate this post.
Places to Stay in Picton and Thirlmere
Address: 745 Barkers Lodge Rd, Picton
Phone: 02 4680 9243
If you would like to have a weekend away in Picton, Mowbray Park Farm offers farm stays. We are definitely adding this to our to-do list and coming back to experience this working farm.
Some of the activities on offer are tractor rides, pony rides, cow milking, whip cracking, camp fires, canoeing, fishing, the list goes on and on. It sounds amazing!
Seana adds: I have stayed at Mowbray Park Farm when my kids were little and they absolutely loved their stay.
Things To Do In Picton and Thirlmere
Picton was severely damaged by floods in 2016 and places such as the George IV Inn are still recovering.
Picton is also accessible by train if you choose not to drive, with trains leaving from Sydney’s Central Station. Check out the Sydney Trains website for timetable information.
Here are just a few top things to do in the area with kids.
Self-guided Tour of Picton
When you arrive, first make a visit to the Wollondilly Visitor Information Centre (44-60 Menangle St, Picton). Open Mon to Fri 8-4pm, Sat/Sun 10-2pm.
The visitor centre is located in the historic Wollondilly Shire Hall 1915. There are plenty of maps and brochures for the immediate area, some great brochures available for the neighbouring areas and a range of gifts to browse.
Grab a map of Picton and walk around town learning about the historic sites of Picton. Get the kids to see who can spot the information signs first!
How far you want to explore and walk is totally up to you. There are a lot of sites not far from the information centre.
Some key places on the walk are the Picton Courthouse – built in 1864, The George IV Inn – one of the oldest hotels in the country, and the Toll House.
Address – 13 Regreme Rd, Picton
Opening Hours – Open 7 days a week
Entry Fee – Entry is free
Amenities – The gardens have toilet facilities and bbq’s. There are also plenty of seats and picnic tables. There isn’t a café in the gardens, but there are some lovely places in town to grab a takeaway coffee before your visit.
Parking – There is a designated carpark.
Activities – The gardens are loosely divided into two sections, the actual gardens and the playground/duck pond and picnic area.
We explored the gardens first. The kids loved to wander along the paths, running around the rotunda and underneath the beautiful liquid ambers with their autumn leaves. We explored down to the beehive conservation area and an Aboriginal place of Spiritual Healing.
The gardens are very peaceful and just the right size for little legs to explore.
The playground area is more suited towards little ones, with swings, bouncy see-saw and pirate ship. It is located over near the duck pond, where there are a healthy range of ducks to say hello to.
There is also a flat 9km return bike/walking track that flows through the botanic gardens and continues on throughout Picton.
We walked part of it on this visit, next time we will definitely be bringing our bikes to explore it further.
Picton Railway Viaduct
Located on Webster St, Picton
Drive to the end of Webster St, and park right in front of the Viaduct to see its highest 23.8m point. The kids loved exploring down the trail leading to Stonequarry Creek.
Interestingly, this part of the creek was once a swimming pool back in 1934. There are little steps and rocks for the kids to climb on.
They had great fun trying to get across the little creek looking for creatures, and trying to imagine what it would have been like many years ago when it was a pool.
The Kids Cottage Toy Boutique Picton
Shop 11/150-158 Argyle Street, Picton
The Kids Cottage is a gorgeous little toy shop located on the main street of Picton. The kids will love the oversized pirate and Nutcracker statues sitting outside the shop front.
The shop has a lot of quality wooden toys, and a lot of things you don’t normally see in mainstream toy shops. There is plenty for the kids to look at and enjoy. We spent quite some time in the shop, and purchased some special treats.
After you have explored and enjoyed Picton, drive 10 minutes and visit Thirlmere.
Thirlmere has a strong rail history, once housing many of the workers who worked to create the Great Southern Railway from 1863 to 1867.
The nearby lakes were also important supplying water for the steam trains. While you visit Thirlmere be sure to visit the National Park and the NSW Rail Museum.
Address: Driving from Picton enter the park from Slades Rd or Pumphouse Rd. The roads in the park are unsealed.
Opening Hours: Open from sunrise to sunset
Entry Fee: $8 per car
Amenities: There are toilets, bbq’s and picnic tables in the Werri Berri picnic area
Parking: There is designated parking
Activities: The National Park has five freshwater lakes to explore. It also has a 6km walking track loop that covers three of the five lakes. Estimated walking time is 2 hours.
We enjoy bushwalking and completed most of the track. The bushland is very quiet and peaceful.
One local told us to make sure we come back during summer, when the lakes are brimming with swimmers and people kayaking.
The historic heritage pumphouse is also worth a look, it was once used to replenish the steam trains on the old railway. It is located across from the Werri Berri picnic area.
Address: 10 Barbour Rd, Thirlmere
Phone: 1300 11 55 99
Opening Hours: Open 7 days a week. Mon to Fri 10-4pm. Sat & Sun 9-5pm.
Entry Fee: Check the website for up to date details https://www.nswrailmuseum.com.au/admission
Amenities: Onsite Café, BBQ/Picnic area, toilets, outside train themed playground. Please note that not all areas of the museum are able to be accessed by wheelchairs or prams.
Parking: There is free street parking
Activities: If you have a love of trains, then this place is definitely worth a visit. The Museum is home to a large historic rail collection which includes the palatial Governor General’s carriage and the oldest in the collection, a steam locomotive built in 1866.
Inside the main exhibition centre is a movie theatre which I recommend visiting to watch the short informative movie of the rail history, complete with 3D holograms.
Walk around the Great Train Hall and have the opportunity to sit in an old steam engine.
The highlight for the kids was the mail van, an example of what an old travelling post office looked like. It also has a slide to ride down – definitely a favourite for the kids.
The museum also holds regular events, so check the website when planning your visit. Steam train Sundays and the popular Day Out with Thomas are just some of them.
Kid-Friendly Cafes + Restaurants
We chose to eat lunch at the Picton Hotel – 132 Argyle St, Picton https://www.facebook.com/thepictonhotel/ where the menu includes burgers, pastas, salads, and schnitzels. It also has an extensive $8 kids menu that includes ice-cream, and has very generous serves. There is the option of indoor or outdoor seating.
Some other places in Picton to explore for lunch and coffee are:
George IV Inn – 180 Argyle St, Picton
La Crema Café – 147 Argyle Street, Picton
R Coffee Co Picton , 150 Argyle Street, Picton
In Thirlmere try the Welcome Inn Hotel at 9 Oaks Rd, Thirlmere
If you feel like a different drive home, forget the freeway and take the scenic drive home via Warragamba Dam.
It really felt like we were miles away appreciating the beautiful countryside along the way, and we got to show the kids Warragamba Dam as well.
There is a modern visitor centre with viewing platform, and take the opportunity to walk on part of the dam wall (open weekends and public holidays only).
Picton have markets held in the Shire Hall on the 1st Sunday of every month. Click here for the markets website.
Hope you enjoy exploring this beautiful area as much as we did!