Central Gardens Nature Reserve is 12 hectares of natural bushland bordered by Merrylands Road, Cumberland Highway and Paton Street in Merrylands. It has a native animal enclosure, waterfall, two shaded playground areas, street library, bush school, picnic facilities, bushwalks and plenty of grass for the kids to run around on. Plus there is a playgroup that runs on Monday mornings during school term.
In February 2017, Cumberland Council announced plans to upgrade the main playground and add water play equipment. And in June 2018, Cumberland Council gathered initial community feedback on usage of the main playground and input into the design of a new inclusive playspace for kids of all abilities.
The series of animal exhibits are spread between the Merrylands St car park and the playground near Paton St, behind the toilet block. The animals include wallabies, emus, kookaburras and swans. They are all enclosed behind mesh fences, making it easy for little ones to see them.
Plus, if you are really lucky, you may see a koala in the koala sanctuary that is located behind the waterfall.
Central Gardens boasts two shaded playgrounds. Both have a bark base, so be prepared for the kids to get dirty. They are best suited to preschoolers and young primary school ages kids.
Playground Near Paton Street
The larger of the two playgrounds is on the Paton Street side of Central Gardens. There are rockers, suspension bridges, monkey bars, slides and lots of opportunity to climb.
Playground Near Merrylands Road
The other playground is in between the Merrylands Rd car park and the koala sanctuary, near the intersection of Cumberland Highway (though set well back). It is a small playground with a climbing play gym consisting of a bridge and two slides. There is also a liberty swing here.
Located in between the large playground and Paton Street is a Bush School. It’s a nature based play and learning area where kids can explore and learn about nature.
Monthly on Monday mornings, Poppy the Possum visits and holds a storytime with craft and singing.
Street Library – Community Reading Box
Nestled amongst the animals, in between the swans and kangaroos, is a bright red community reading box. The aim is to have children’s books freely available for families to enjoy while in the gardens or afterwards at home. And for families to be able to donate books they no longer want. The community reading box, or street library, was created by the Men’s Shed in Granville thanks to Cumberland Council and Wenty Leagues.
Other Features and Facilities
In addition to the animal enclosure and playgrounds, there is:
- a pond with ducks,
- a man made waterfall that is turned on daily (from memory at 11am),
- bush trails,
- plenty of open grass to spread out on or run around, and
- Norrie Maley Kiosk – which is actually a hall you can hire and where the Central Gardens Playgroup is held.
Central Gardens is great for family picnics and group get togethers, with lots of bbqs and picnic tables. There are also toilets, tennis courts and on-site parking.
- Normal: Monday to Friday 7.30am to 5pm and weekends 9am to 5pm.
- Daylight savings: Monday to Friday 7.30am to 7pm and weekends 8am to 7pm.
- CLOSED Good Friday and Christmas Day.
There is a playgroup that runs every Monday of the school term from 10am-12pm in Central Gardens. They currently have places available for children aged 0-4. For more information and contact details, visit their website.
Finding Central Gardens, Merrylands
You can enter Central Gardens either via Merrylands Road or Paton Street, where you will find free off-street parking. There are two buses that will take you to near the Merrylands Road entrance – bus 806 (from Parramatta to Liverpool) and 818 (from Westmead to Merrylands).