There’s a certain joy when you stumble upon an outdoor hidden gem. You know the playground or park that isn’t well known. Or one tucked away, with something special about it. In most cases, there’s no way of knowing about them unless someone tells you or you accidentally stumble across one. Well we’re working hard to change that, and want to help you uncover some wonderful hidden gems in and around the greater Parramatta region!
I must confess this list was a lot harder to put together than I initially thought it. Mostly because nearly all the parks in the area were a hidden gem to my family when we first explored them over the last few years. But some parks and playgrounds are more hidden and special than others. So here is a list of our 30 favourite hidden gems at the moment – 17 within the City of Parramatta and 13 in surrounding areas. And as playgrounds are upgraded and we find new hidden gems, we’ll update it.
For the complete list of parks and playgrounds we have reviewed and consider hidden gems, head here.
Within the City of Parramatta
1Lake Parramatta Reserve, North Parramatta
There’s so much to do at this natural oasis, just north of Parramatta. From kid friendly bushwalks around the lake and playing in the playground to swimming and paddle boats! And if you drive along James Ruse Drive, you have likely passed Lake Parramatta without even knowing.
2Hunts Creek Reserve, North Rocks
Hunts Creek Reserve has three hidden gems! The beautiful Balaka Falls, that look gorgeous after rain. A playground at the western end, on Northam Drive, and a newly upgraded playground on the eastern end, on Lesley Ave, that are great for bush loving young kids.
- Key features: Bush reserve, waterfall, bushwalk, creek and playgrounds.
- Best suited: All ages for bushwalk, playground 3-6yrs
- Size: playgrounds small, medium to large reserve
- Address: Norfolk Place, Carlingford, Lesley Ave, Carlingford and Northam Drive, North Rocks
- Reviews: Balaka Falls and Northam Drive playground
3West Epping Park, Epping
Opened in March 2018, there’s a LOT to love about the new West Epping Park tucked in behind YMCA Epping. Like the different play spaces for toddlers and older kids, mix of play equipment, range of colours and textures, picnic shelters, bbqs, toilets (though temporary at the moment) and on-site parking. Plus the BIG slide is lots of fun! BUT be warned, shade is an issue at the moment. Thankfully shade sails will be installed in 2018/2019.
4Northmead Reserve, Northmead
Hidden in plain sight in the back streets of Northmead is this gem of a playground for young kids! I was won over by the flying fox my 4yr could enjoy without my help. Then there’s the little water table, toddler play equipment, climbing rope tower and nature based play elements. Plus an oval to run around. Would be extra special with the addition of toilets nearby and bbqs.
5Terrys Creek Waterfall | Epping
Vimiera Reserve in Epping is home to the Terrys Creek bushwalk and the beautiful waterfall/ cascades. With large boulders along the way, a mostly flat path, good shade, water regularly trickling in the background and the occasional brush turkey running away, it’s a lovely kid-friendly walk.
6Caber Park, Winston Hills
Caber Park is one of the first hidden gems we came across. It’s tucked away behind houses in Winston Hills, with little street frontage. There are a number of play spaces, with a range of play equipment, all in a lovely bush setting.
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. It’s always a peaceful spot to visit during the week but gets a bit busier on weekends.
8Concord West Playground, Bicentennial Park
A lot of families probably know of Bicentennial Park at Sydney Olympic Park. But a lot of parents may don’t know that there are actually two playgrounds, with one tucked away on the eastern side. Concord West playground is definitely less crowded than it’s sister playground, Village Green near Water View Cafe. And it has a number of nature based play elements for the kids to enjoy. The scooter track is also great, the toilets are right nearby and the play equipment is newer, plus it’s also mostly shaded.
9Wistaria Gardens, Westmead
The Wistaria Gardens are truly stunning and a gorgeous place to enjoy spring. And the good news is that they are transferring to Parramatta Park Trust so will be accessible for generations to come.
10Boronia Park, Epping
This park is a well known gem amongst families in Epping. But being tucked away behind houses and the Coles carpark, it could easily be missed by other families. And a must visit if you have young kids.
11Jubilee Park, Parramatta
Jubilee Park is a lovely, unexpected oasis in Parramatta CBD. While well known to families living nearby, it’s still a hidden gem to those who don’t often go into Parramatta CBD. Please be aware that there is only natural shade over the playground at certain times of the time.
12North Rocks ‘Dam’, Bidjigal Reserve
I had no idea there was a ‘dam’ (aka flood retarding wall) in the area until a local mum mentioned it. It definitely has the wow factor. And absolutely not what you would expect to find in the middle of gorgeous bushland.
13Cavanstone Park – Old Eastwood Brickworks, Eastwood
The smokestacks near the old Channel Seven site are signposts for a hidden gem of a park, with a big slide, bbqs and lovely grounds to explore.
- Key features: old brickworks, big slide, BBQs, toilets (only for residents), sculptures, grassed area.
- Best suited: 4yrs+
- Size: Medium
- Address: Cavan Drive, Eastwood
- More details
14Fred Robertson Reserve, Oatlands
This little reserve offers families with little ones the complete package – fun playground, cafe, street library, bushwalk and lots of bushland to play in. And you can easily miss it when driving along Kissing Point Road.
15Third Settlement Reserve, Winston Hills
Third Settlement Reserve is not so much hidden, being on Oakes Road. But there is a treasure here that few are likely to know about…. a gorgeous water hole, which is a great spot to tip your toes in on a hot day. Plus, there is a fun shaded playground, picnic tables, BBQ’s, toilets and bushwalks.
16Hazel Ryan Oval, North Rocks
You feel like you are driving down someone’s driveway to get to Hazel Ryan Oval. And while the playground is only small, the combination of interesting play equipment, bushwalk nearby and open space set back from the road makes it a fun place to visit with young kids.
17Charles Herbert Reserve, Northmead
Down a path in Northmead, you’ll find the peaceful Charles Herbert Reserve, with rock ledges to climb and a small playground to enjoy.
- Key features: open grassed area; rock boulders, walls and ledges to climb; playground, basketball hoop, picnic table.
- Best suited: 3-8yrs
- Size: Medium
- Address: 12b Whitehave Road, Northmead
A Little Further Afield
There are so many hidden gems sprinkled around Sydney. These 12 are relatively close to Parramatta and have something special to make them worth the extra little drive to get there.
18Auburn Botanic Gardens, Auburn
Auburn Botanic Gardens is a must visit for families! It’s high on the list of places we recommend most often. While beautiful all year round, it’s particularly gorgeous in spring with the blooming cherry blossoms and autumn with the changing leaves. Entry is free during the week and there is a small fee on the weekends for non-Cumberland Council residents.
19Central Gardens, Merrylands
Did you know that you can see native animals for free just a few minutes south of Parramatta? And at this same park, there’s a large man made waterfall? Plus two playgrounds and lots of bush to explore and grass to run play on.
- Key features: native animal exhibits, two shaded playgrounds, waterfall, street library, bush reserve, bbqs, picnic shelters, toilets, grassed area, paths to walk and ride on, bush school, tennis courts and on-site parking.
- Best suited: playgrounds 2-8yrs
- Size: Large
- Address: Cnr Merrylands Road & Cumberland Highway, Merrylands
- More details
20Putney Park, Putney
Putney Park is a fantastic park, along Parramatta River, tucked down at Putney. There’s a great, free water play area for young children, water views and it’s a perfect spot for family gatherings.
21Blackman Park, Lane Cove West
Even once you arrive at Blackman Park, along Lane Cove River, you could easily not realise there is a great playground waiting for you. You have to drive past all the sports fields, to the bottom of the park to find it. Set amongst the bush, there’s a really good variety of play equipment. And we have had fun birthday parties here.
- Key features: bush reserve, great playground for a range of ages, sports fields, paths to walk and ride on, toilets, picnic shelters, bbqs, on-site parking, little waterfall, grassed areas, bushwalks, access to Lane Cove River.
- Best suited: playground 2-12yrs
- Size: Large
- Address: Lloyd Rees Drive, Lane Cove West
- More details
22Berry Island Reserve, Wollstonecraft
This is a gorgeous spot on Sydney Harbour that you can enjoy from the safety of a fenced playground. It’s positioned in between Balls Head Reserve and Greenwich Baths. And there’s a lovely kid-friendly bushwalk.
23Carss Park, Hurstville Area
Tucked in at the end of King Georges Road, is a TOTAL package park for a full fun day out with young kids. Carss Park is one of those very rare parks with a great playground, beach/ pool, yummy cafe, bushwalk, picnic facilities and even a street library! And it’s the 3rd closest beach to Parramatta!
24Hughes Park, Lane Cove
Driven along Burns Bay Road in Lane Cove? Did you notice all the new apartment blocks on the lower, city side. Well tucked down there is a fabulous community space, called Hughes Park.
The long awaited Livvi’s Place Bankstown is definitely packed full of fun for young kids and worth the trip to visit.
26Governor Phillip Park, Windsor
We love going on day trips to the Hawkesbury area and are excited to now have this fenced inclusive playground to stop at. The history of Windsor is beautifully reflected in the design and it has lovely views out over the Hawkesbury River. There is a water playground, in-ground trampolines and lots of nature based play elements.
27Bicentennial Park, West Pymble
It may not be the closest large fab fenced playground to Parramatta, but Bicentennial Park West Pymble is well worth the trip. With a swimming centre, BBQs, kiosk, bushwalks, paths to ride on and lots of open space to enjoy, you can definitely make a day of your visit.
28ELS Hall Park, North Ryde
The newest playground on this hidden gems list, ELS Hall Park opened in October 2018. It’s a large nature inspired playground, with a great mix of play equipment for a range of ages. Plus both natural and sail shade and picnic facilities.
29Banjo Paterson Park, Gladesville
Banjo Paterson Park is a gorgeous, hidden away spot along Parramatta River. The park got a new themed adventure playground towards the end of 2016 and there are bbqs and picnic tables nearby.
30George Thornton Reserve, West Pennant Hills
This large reserve in West Pennant Hills has a LOT to offer families with young kids…and well worth a visit for a nice few hours out.