Well-connected neighbourhood hub with ease of access.
There are certain areas in Sydney that families seem to flock to and the Ryde catchment is one of them. It covers North, East and West Ryde, with neighbouring suburbs of Eastwood and Epping, all of which are super-well resourced if you have kindy and school-aged children. Three of my long-time girlfriends have settled in this community, choosing it as a place for their family homes, over and above the suburbs they grew up in. I think this speaks to the desirability of the area. If you're a local, or considering a move, this guide highlights the key attractions that make Ryde so great.
Elouera Reserve, Macquarie Park (photo c/o- City of Ryde Council website)
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Ryde area would have to be one of the best positioned in terms of its access to not one but two of Sydney's biggest shopping meccas:- Macquarie Centre (cnr Herring and Waterloo Rds) and Top Ryde (cnr Devlin St and Blaxland Rd). There are still loads of convenience stores and shopping villages dotted throughout the community but with a growing family, you'll find you need the resources and services provided by big consumer hubs. Your kids will also love the choice of cinemas, bowling alleys and after school and weekend hangouts, for meeting friends, if they're at that kind of 'independent' age.
Great swim facilities (image c/o- Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre Facebook page)
Looking for a swim school or swim club for your kids? In need of a well-resourced pool for school holiday activities? Ryde Aquatic Centre on Victoria Road, has long been one of the best in Sydney. It has spacious facilities and value-add attractions such as the wave pool and Surf Ryder for older, more adventurous kids. It's also a great option for birthday parties, if your child goes to school in the area.
And for those who may be freaked out by busy and large, indoor swim centres, I know mums from the area who prefer a more relaxed, outdoor dip at the Epping Aquatic and Leisure Centre. I can vouch for it too, as a nice pool for the warmer months.
Asian food is an Eastwood specialty (image c/o- City of Ryde Facebook page)
The Sydney Crochet Club meets weekly to learn crochet, meet other Sydney mums, and have a good chat. Whether you're a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, everyone is welcome to come along!
Family-friendly and cheap eats
When a popular dining and entertainment guide names a café one of the Best Kid-Friendly Cafes in Sydney, you sit up and take notice. Ryde's offering to this well-contested list is The Grounds Keeper Café, close to Top Ryde City and right next to Ryde Park, where there is a playground for kids to keep them entertained. The café is Mediterranean-inspired and there is a kids breakfast and lunch menu with reasonably priced meals, as well as good coffee for the mums. Gotta love that!
And I know this is slightly out of area but ask any Ryde local and they'll know how good the adjacent Eastwood shopping village is, for Asian cuisine that's down to earth, cheap and family-friendly. The selection of eats throughout the Eastwood Plaza area is a foodie paradise, without the pretension. Yum Cha or Japanese anyone?
Kids rule in Ryde (image c/o- Ryde City Facebook page)
For parents needing child care for under 5s, there are centres and preschools popping up on every corner, so best to approach a few within striking distance of where you want to live and choose the day care facility that's right for you.
With three main public primary schools - Ryde, North Ryde and West Ryde - and a host of parish school options to choose from, families do not have to look far to find the right local school for their 5 to 12-year olds. And when your kids are reaching high school age, Ryde Secondary College, Holy Cross College, Riverside Girls High School, Epping Boys High School and Hunters Hill High School are just some of the choices available. Check this list to get you started, or Google the school names that interest you, for more details.
Beautiful sports fields abound (image c/o- Ryde City Facebook page)
The list of sports facilities in Ryde, for outdoor kids, is almost endless. You can see from this searchable list of recreation facilities in Ryde that football, tennis, cricket and swimming are all well-catered for. Once you know where you are going to live, ask your child's school or other parents, where the closest and/or best sports club is, to suit your child's interests. The area has space and parklands aplenty for outdoor recreation, so it is a great place to be if you want your kids to take part in healthy pursuits. Check out the new Elouera Reserve in Macquarie Park, for example. The play equipment is awesome.
Via the main thoroughfare Victoria Road, Ryde is only 14kms commute from the Sydney CBD. While a lot of families will be keeping it local where they can, it's nice to know that the city is a reasonable option for work, or weekend outings, with access by car, bus (Top Ryde), ferry (Meadowbank) or train (North and West Ryde.)
Are you a Ryde local? How would you rate this suburb and its surrounds, for family-friendliness? Do you find it affordable? Join the 'My Suburb' conversation at Sydney Mums Group...