James Ruse ReserveJames Ruse Reserve has a lot to offer families. There’s a fantastic water playground, great ‘dry’ playground, skate park and picnic facilities. And all within walking distance of Parramatta CBD. The downsides are parking and the port-a-loos.

We’ve spent a lot of time at James Ruse Reserve over the last few springs and summers (since 2014). But used to have to cut our afternoon water fun short to rush home for dinner. I even looked into getting pizza delivered. Thankfully now we can BBQ! Plus there’s a cafe a short walk away.

Water Playground

The Water is on 9am to 8pm from September to May

James Ruse Reserve Parramatta

This is the largest of the three water playgrounds near to Parramatta. There is a range of water fountains, jets, sprinklers and tipping buckets on a cycle.

James Ruse Reserve Parramatta

The water is activated by pressing a button – it’s on a pole near the two picnic shelters at the east end of the water playground.

Down the skate park end of the water playground, the water features are more little kid friendly, with ones to hold onto.

The water playground has shade cloths over it and a colourful non-slip surface on the ground, which Council seems to resurface each winter.


This good sized playground incorporates the history of its name – James Ruse, a convict on the first fleet that went on to prove you could live self sufficiently in Parramatta. This is done through a few elements, such as the corn stalk artwork, chicken rockers and metal pig.

James Ruse Reserve

The playground is best used early morning or late afternoon, or on a cooler day, as there isn’t a lot of shade. Unfortunately the metal slides are not usable on a hot day. The surrounding trees are growing fast though and we are hopeful that there will be more relief this summer.

The equipment is best suited for 3-10yrs and includes:

  • rope climbing structure and slide
  • three swings
  • rockers
  • mound with inlaid slide

Other Facilities

There’s a large, popular skate park at James Ruse Reserve and my boys always love to have a little watch.

BBQs were installed back in 2016 and there are a number of picnic shelters and tables.

Sadly, there’s still no permanent toilet block but three temporary toilets are available from Spring through to Autumn. And the approved masterplan for the park includes an amenities block.

James Ruse Reserve Parramatta

Interestingly, there’s a heap more shade now over the playground in the afternoon thanks to some new high buildings in Parramatta CBD.

James Ruse Reserve Parramatta

IMPORTANT: the playgrounds are not fenced and are located within about 10-20metres of a busy road. There is however a low level log fence around the reserve that acts as a small barrier for fast moving, little explorers.

Finding James Ruse Reserve

By Car

The reserve is located at the intersection of Harris and Parkes Streets. There are about 20 metered on-site car spaces on Hassall Street (Monday to Friday). There are also other metered spots on Harris Street and then free parking in surrounding streets. Parkes Street next to the reserve is generally a clearway but you can park there at certain times of the week – I believe it’s between 10am and 3pm, but you will need to check.

Keep in mind that parking is very hard to find near James Ruse Reserve during the school holidays and on weekends.

By Public Transport

There are a number of ways to get to James Ruse Reserve by public transport.

  • Parramatta train station is the closest to walk from, but the reserve almost lies in the centre of Parramatta, Harris Park, Rose Hill and Camellia stations.
  • Parramatta Ferry Wharf is about a 700 metre easy walk away.
  • A range of buses can be caught within a few hundred metres of the reserve.

Places of Interest Nearby


  1. Hi Kellie,
    Do we need to book BBQ or its first come first take?
    We are planning a get together aroung 50 ppl.Do you think we need any permit from council?
    Its just family gettogether with kids and food.

    I have been following all your suggestions on Parraparents. Really great work. Much appreciated.

    Thank You.

    • Hi Sangita, the bbq at James Ruse Reserve is on a first come first serve basis. As a family gathering, I don’t know of any need for a permit. Hope you have a nice time and glad to hear our information has been helpful :-)

  2. Hi,

    Do you know if there is a power points there as I have a little fridge and would like to keep a birthday cake cool for a park next month.