If you have driven along James Ruse Drive you will have gone passed Lake Parramatta, probably without realising that there is a beautiful bush oasis just there. It’s the perfect place to escape city life for a while (well minus a few occasional background traffic noises).
If you and your kids like being out in nature, enjoy a little bushwalk, playing on equipment in a bush setting and some gorgeous views, then Lake Parramatta Reserve is definitely a must visit.
You can even swim there and hire boats to explore the lake, including rowboats, pedal boats, canoes and stand up boards. And on rare, special occasions, after a LOT of rain, you can even be treated to a gorgeous waterfall over the dam wall (video above).
On entering the reserve you will see the lake on your left and there is a cafe on your right. The swimming spot is to the left of the roundabout. And to the right at the top of the hill you will find the playground and additional (free) parking.
| Swimming | Playground | Bushwalks | Boats |
Swimming in the Lake
How lucky are we to have a gorgeous natural swimming spot in our backyard!
It’s been five years since swimming re-opened at Lake Parramatta.
And it’s definitely a unique and gorgeous place to cool off. The water is clear and refreshing and you are surrounded by the sights and sounds of nature.
Lifeguards are on duty 9am to 6pm every weekend from late October until April. And everyday during school holidays during that period. When they are not on duty, swim only in the designated swimming area (marked by buoys) and observe safe swimming practices. It’s recommended that you DO NOT swim for 3 days after heavy rain.
Over the last few years, Council has carried out work after each swimming season to improve the experience for swimmers. This has included:
- Sandstone steps and concrete landings all the way to the swimming area
- Pebbles installed within the swimming area
- Public viewing platform accessible for prams and wheelchairs
- Additional picnic shelters and BBQs installed
Keep in mind that entry to the water is rocky/pebbly and a bit slippery. We STRONGLY recommend wearing water shoes and going in slowly. Sadly, there’s no longer a small shallow area for little kids to splash in – it was filled in with pebbles in December 2019.
Seating near the water is amongst the trees and rocks. And there is some natural shade in the early morning and afternoon. There are a few new picnic shelters back up the stairs, near the new viewing platform. And it can get busy on weekends.
The small to medium sized playground is well suited for kids 1.5-5yrs. It has a slide, swings, balance beam, liberty swing, pretend shops, stone sculptures and an range of interactive vertical play boards with steering wheels, xylophone, abacus and noughts and crosses.
The playground is located at the top of the reserve, opposite the toilet block and near the overflow parking. In late 2016, a fenced was installed as a barrier between the playground and road.
There are 3 bushwalks you can do by the lake. All 3 walks can be accessed by going straight at the round about to the end of the road. Or walking down the stone stairs to the left of the playground.
But we also really enjoy starting the Lake Circuit walk from behind the ‘dam’ wall by walking around the front of the lake past the boat hire. The full walk is too long for little ones but we just walk in a bit and then turn around.
The track surface on all the walks is uneven and there are some stone stairs or a creek crossing. But we’ve seen parents happily pushing bubs in prams along the firetrack.
We have walked the She Oak bushwalk a number times with preschoolers and toddlers and everyone always really loves it. There is a great spot to stop for a picnic about a 1/4 of the way in along the lake.
Boats on the Lake
In September 2016, Parramatta Rowboats starting operating on the Lake. You can hire rowboats, pedal boats, canoes, kayaks and stand up boards from 10am to 6pm on weekends, public holidays and during school holidays.
All boats can be hired for an hour and most for 2hrs, 4hrs or all day as well. Pedal boats are ideal for the family, as they can hold 2 adults and 2 children and no experience is needed. They can just be hired for an hour and the cost is $40.
The toilet block is opposite the playground and there are a number of picnic shelters and BBQs down from the toilets.
If you want to see some ducks, head to the part of the lake opposite the cafe where there is a little jetty and some seats to soak in this tranquil spot from.
The gate on Lackey/ Bourke Street is open from 6:30am to 5:30pm outside of day light saving. And then stays open til 7:30pm during day light saving.
Finding Lake Parramatta Reserve
The Reserve is located right by James Ruse Drive and entry is at the intersection of Bourke and Lackey Streets in North Parramatta.