About five years ago we started a family tradition of having BBQ dinners at local parks nearly weekly during daylight saving. Mostly because I wanted a change of scenery from eating dinner at home every night with little ones. And summer nights are gorgeous to enjoy outdoors! Plus, it’s much easier to cook dinner when the kids are happily playing at a park… and this seemed to make the ‘witching hour’ disappear for us! Now, our BBQ park dinners have become great after school play dates.
Thankfully, with the easing of covid restrictions in Sydney, City of Parramatta Council has reopened their free to use BBQs in public parks. They started turning them back on this week and they should be all operational by 1st October. And seeing we can’t yet have visitors to our homes, meeting up at a local park for a BBQ lunch or dinner is a lovely alternative.
There are a LOT of local parks with free BBQs, which you turn on simply by pressing a button. To help you choose, below are our favourite parks for BBQs in the Parramatta LGA. The list is a mixture of parks with great warm weather playgrounds, gorgeous views along Parramatta River and all have toilets.
Keep in mind that some BBQs are cleaner and better maintained than others. But I have a trick to help with that – BBQ mat/ plate liner or alfoil! I just cook on a BBQ mat or large piece of alfoil, which saves needing to clean before and after. WINNING!
We’ve never had a problem with BBQs not working at a park. But in case you turn up ready to cook dinner and find the BBQ not working, I’ve included details of where you will find another BBQ in a park nearby. And if you aren’t sure what to cook and pack, see my list at the bottom of this article.
Keep in mind that some parks are closed to vehicle access at sunset. And remember to pack MOZZIE REPELLENT!
List of 10 Favourite Parks for Summer BBQs in City of Parramatta
The order of parks is based on a combination of what BBQ facilities are available (toilets and taps are important), how close the BBQs are to the playground (closer the better), how good the play equipment is for a hot summer evening (water play is great) and how nice the spot is.
1Dundas Park, Dundas Valley
Dundas Park is definitely our number 1 favourite BBQ dinner park! There’s both a water playground and other play equipment right next in front of the BBQ, under shade cloths. Plus, there is a large oval to fly a kite or kick a ball around and a path around the park great for riding on. And if you happen to not want to cook dinner on the BBQ, we often get pizza’s from Vulcano Pizzeria a short walk away.
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, 3 small picnic shelters, large grassed area, toilets about 50m away, tap in oval next to playground steps, garbage bins near BBQ and street parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-8yrs
- Address: Yates Ave, Dundas Valley
- More about Dundas Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Sir Thomas Mitchell Reserve
2James Ruse Reserve, Parramatta
James Ruse Reserve has a large, shaded water playground that operates from 9am to 8pm, September to May. There is also a skate park and playground (not shaded) with swings, slides, rockers and rope climbing tower.
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, small picnic shelters, picnic tables, large grassed area, temporary toilets, tap next to toilets, garbage bins near BBQ and metered off street parking.
- Playground best suited: 1-10yrs
- Address: 45 Hassall St, Parramatta
- More about James Ruse Reserve
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Rosella Park in Harris Park or Ollie Webb Reserve in Parramatta.
3Lake Parramatta Reserve, North Parramatta
There’s so much to do at this natural oasis, just north of Parramatta. Lake Parramatta Reserve is popular for bushwalking, playing, picnicking and now water activities – swimming, canoeing and paddle boating. There are two sets of BBQs – one up near the toilets and playground and the other is near the swimming area with covered picnic tables overlooking the water. Note: the gates close at 7:30pm during daylight saving.
- Facilities: Multiple BBQs, large and small picnic shelters, picnic tables, large grassed area, toilets with baby change table, tap at toilet, garbage bins near picnic tables and off street parking.
- Playground best suited: 3-8yrs
- Address: 28 Bourke Street, North Parramatta
- More about Lake Parramatta Reserve
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: there are multiple BBQs at the reserve or head to Arthur Phillip Park
4John Wearn Reserve, Carlingford
You can go on a safari style BBQ at John Wearn Reserve, with the African animal themed playground. There’s also a skate park, dog-off leash fenced area, exercise equipment and a path to ride on around the park.
5Blaxland Riverside Park, Newington
Blaxland Riverside Park is a large and awesome park, best suited for kids 4yrs+. It has a fantastic water playground section as well, though there is no shade and it only runs from 10am to 4pm. Keep in mind it’s very popular so parking can be difficult but easier in the evening. There are BBQs along Parramatta River near the Armoury Wharf Cafe or at the back of the playground, near the secondary car park (first carpark, on your left, when you enter).
- Facilities: Multiple BBQs, large picnic shelters, picnic tables, large grassed area, toilets, tap, garbage bins near BBQs and off street parking.
- Playground best suited: 4-14yrs
- Address: Jamieson Street, Silverwater
- More about Blaxland Riverside Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: there are multiple BBQs at the park or head to Wentworth Common.
6Boronia Park, Epping
Boronia Park ticks almost all the boxes for a great park with young kids! Fab shaded playground with equipment for a range of ages, toilets, BBQs, picnic tables, bike/ scooter track, bush setting, gardens and exercise equipment. Just needs a water pump or water play area.
7Upjohn Park, Rydalmere
Almost fully surrounded by houses, it would be easy to live right near this park and not know it exists….well unless you looked at Google Earth or your kids play sport there. The playground gets natural shade in the afternoon and there is a bike/ scooter track, plus exercise equipment and creek to explore.
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, covered picnic tables, grassed area, toilets, bubbler near playground, garbage bins near picnic tables and off-street parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-6yrs
- Address: Kirby Street, Rydalmere
- More about Upjohn Park
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: Sturt Park, Dundas Park, Eric Primrose Reserve
8Parramatta Park, Parramatta
Parramatta Park is such a BIG, beautiful park and there are a number of options of where to have a BBQ. My kids particularly like playing at Paperbark Playground, and thankfully there are now toilets nearby! Note: I’m not 100% sure the BBQs are operating again just yet at Parramatta Park.
- Facilities: Dual BBQ, picnic shelters, grassed area, toilets, garbage bins near picnic tables and free 2hr parking.
- Playground best suited: 2-12yrs
- Address: Parramatta Park, entry via Pitt Street
- More about Paperbark Playground and Domain Creek Playground
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: There are lots of BBQs through Parramatta Park. Otherwise there are some next to the fenced playground at Ollie Webb Reserve.
9John Curtin Reserve, Winston Hills
10Eric Primrose Reserve, Rydalmere
The dual BBQs and picnic shelters at Eric Primrose Reserve are near Rydalmere ferry wharf. And it’s a great spot to watch the sun setting over Parramatta River. The only reason it’s further down our list is that the toilets nearby are only open until 6pm and the playground can’t be seen from the BBQ area.
- Facilities: Dual BBQs, covered picnic tables, grassed area, bubbler, garbage bins near BBQs, cycleway, off-street parking and short walk from Rydalmere Wharf.
- Playground best suited: 2yrs+
- Address: John Street, Rydalmere
- More about Eric Primrose Reserve
- Nearest Alternative BBQ: George Kendall Riverside Park
11Ollie Webb Reserve, Parramatta
With it’s fun fenced playground, you would think Ollie Webb Reserve would make our top 20 list. But we just find is SUPER packed in the afternoon and so avoid it now. But there are BBQs just outside and toilets.
12George Kendall Riverside Reserve, Ermington
George Kendall Riverside Reserve has a fun playground and multi-purpose sports courts and also the most number of BBQs of any park in the Parramatta LGA from what I can tell. Plus the reserve is along Parramatta River so a nice spot to go for a walk afterwards. It hasn’t made our top 10 as the BBQs are a little away from the playground.
13Silverwater Park, Silverwater
Silverwater Park has lovely views over Parramatta River and a good spot to watch the Parramatta Rivercat go by. It ticks so many boxes when it comes to having a BBQ lunch or dinner – there with toilets, on-site parking, a playground and lots of room to spread out and run around. BUT, there is also a large mozzie population not far away on Duck River and in summer it can become a no go zone when the mozzie’s are out in force! Mozzie’s are usually worse at dawn and dusk so a BBQ lunch is a better option here.
There are so many other parks with BBQs in the Parramatta LGA. Let us know if one of your favourites is missing or see a fuller list of parks with BBQs.
What’s Cooking on the BBQ?
I don’t cook anything fancy and basically stick to the same meal each week – to keep it simple with little ones. But there is lots of yummy food you can cook on a BBQ if you have the time and energy. My summer BBQ park dinner usually consists of sausages or chicken skewers, salad, friend onions and BBQ potato cubes/ chips. And after a bit of trial and error, here is what I pack each week into a grocery cooler bag to make the BBQ dinners super easy.
- Piece of alfoil (or 2) that will cover the bbq – saves on having to clean the BBQ before and after
- Spray oil
- Paper towels
- Plastic bags for rubbish and dirty plates
- Reuseable plastic plates
- Container for left over food
- Frozen ice blocks to keep the meat cold
- Mozzie repellent!
And my trick for making yummy, crunchy BBQ potato cubes/ chips is to microwave them until they are almost cooked, add some seasoning and a bit of oil at home. Then crisp them up on the BBQ.