Hidden in the back streets of North Parramatta, Lake Parramatta Reserve is one of those secret gems that local residents don't want too many people to know about, because it is the perfect place to escape the rat race.
Lake Parramatta is a beautiful man made lake, and the reserve where it is located covers about 75 hectares of bushland. The lake was once upon a time, the main water source for Parramatta. The amazing dam wall that was built back in1856 still exists today, and there is a viewing platform from where you can safely see its vastness.
So what can you do in Lake Parramatta Reserve?
There are 3 designated tracks within the reserve. Pop into the onsite cafe when you first arrive and pick up a map of the lake, as the walks are outlined on it. Each track is reasonably well sign posted along the way as well.
The longest walk is the Lake Circuit. This is quite a long walk for little legs, so our advice is to only take fit, older kids, otherwise you may end up carrying younger ones along the way. The walk is 4.2km long and can take up to 2 hours to complete depending on your fitness level, as there are quite a few uneven surfaces along the route.
The She Oak Track is a nice short walk that is easier for kids to cope with. It's only 1.5km long and it meanders along the lake's edge for a while before you return via a bitumen road.
The Banksia Track is 2.45km long and is considered a moderate track, so once again it is more suited for fitter kids.
None of the bushwalks are pram friendly, but there are quite a few pathways that you can walk along in the reserve, as well as a section of bitumen road that you can walk on for about 300m, before the surfaces become too uneven.
The bush themed playground has slippery slides, swings, climbing equipment, musical instruments and more. It is probably most suited for kids under the age of 8 years and there is also a liberty swing for children in wheelchairs. There are fantastic rock sculptures within the playground area as well, that depict some of the wildlife that can be found in and around the lake.
The playground is not fenced and is exposed to the elements, so make sure you visit early in the day or later in the afternoon in the middle of summer.
During the warmer months from October to March, there is patrolled swimming at Lake Parrmatta. You must swim in the designated areas and the lake starts off quite shallow at about 0.1m, and gets up to about 6m deep in the marked area - so make sure you keep an eye on your kids, even when life guards are on duty.
Lake Parramatta is an ideal place to lauch non motorised craft. You can either bring your own or hire a boat, kayak, pedal boat or canoe from Parramatta Rowboats. They operate on weekends and school holidays, and offer an hourly hire rate.
Have a Picnic
The are heaps of picnic shelters dotted around Lake Parramatta Reserve, as well as a BBQ area. There's also loads of green space where you can just throw down a blanket and let the kids run free - but obviously as the lake is so close by you need to keep a close eye on them!
Other amenities within Lake Parramatta Reserve include a toilet block up near the playground, which contains a baby change table and parking for both cars and buses. On weekends Lake Parramatta can be very busy, so we recommend that you arrive early to find yourself the perfect picnic spot (and also a car spot).Gates to the Reserve open at 6.30am in the morning and close at 5.30pm (and 7.30pm in daylight saving).
The Lake Parramatta Cafe is open 7 days a week serving breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks. You can grab a decent coffee here, and the menu is made up of basic cafe fare. It's the perfect spot to grab an ice cream after a bush walk.
Just to let you know that there are dozens of ducks and other birdlife on the lake, but you are not allowed to feed them. Rangers frequently patrol the area to make sure that visitors to the reserve are following the rules.
ADDRESS: Lackey Street (off Bourke St) North Parramatta NSW