My boys (and I) have always been happiest outdoors playing together – whether that’s at a playground, reading books, bushwalking, gardening or park. It always impresses me how much their behaviour changes (for the better) just by being outside! So for the first few years, we were out EVERY SINGLE DAY, usually for most of the day! We mostly filled our days going to playgrounds (hence all the reviews), plus attending and organising outdoor based activities as playgrounds aren’t always a hive of activity.

What's on in february

Over the years I’ve shared these activities via ParraParents when we’ve done them. But only just realised that it would probably be VERY helpful to give you a list so you can pick and choose ones that suit your family. And save you doing all the same research!

We’ve attended 11 out of the 17 regular outdoor activities listed below and enjoy them all for different reason. I’ve grouped them into FREE activities and ones that you pay to attend. And all are facilitated activities, with varying degrees of parent involvement.


FREE Regular Outdoor Activities

How cool is it that there are 12 FREE fun outdoor activities that you can attend with your family! And most are run weekly during school term.

This is a VERY well run outdoor storytime and nature activity. Ranger Judy and her team are great with the kids and the topics are interesting and engaging and change each week. Remember to bring swimmers or a change of clothes as it is right next to the water play area – which is hard for kids to resist!

  • Where: Newington Armory, Sydney Olympic Park
  • When: Weekly on Tuesdays during school term, 10am
  • Who: Families with young kids (best suited to preschoolers)
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info

2Bush School Storytime | Central Gardens, Merrylands

Another one of our favourites, this is a lovely mix of nature based activities and storytime. Plus cuddles with Poppy! And there’s the animal exhibit, waterfall and street library to visit afterwards.

  • Where: Central Gardens, Paton Street, Merrylands (near the tennis courts)
  • When: 1st Monday of the month, 10am (except during school holidays)
  • Who: Families with young kids
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info

3NEW Playgroup NSW Play Van | Parramatta Area

For years I’ve been dreaming of a mobile outdoor playgroup in the Parramatta area, similar to the Magic Yellow Bus. And my wishes have come true with Playgroup NSW now visiting 5 local parks each week during school term from August 2019.

  • Where: Sturt Park (Monday), Sherwin Park (Tuesday), Rosella Park (Wednesday), Richill Park (Thursday) and Jubilee Park (Friday)
  • When: Daily during school term
  • Who: Families with kids under 5yrs
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: Drop-in
  • More Info

4Magic of Storytelling Playgroup | ANZAC Park, West Ryde

This is the only FREE weekly outdoor playgroup in the Ryde area! During the playgroup, there’s reading, music, sports, other stations for free play, craft activities and storytime.

  • Where: ANZAC Park, West Ryde
  • When: Weekly on Wednesdays during school term from 10am to 11:30am
  • Who: Families with kids under 5yrs
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info

Livvi’s Places are great, fenced inclusive playgrounds. And they are made even better with stories, craft and smiles at the FREE storytimes, that include a themed craft activity.

  • Where: Livvi’s Place Ryde, Yamble Reserve, Quarry Road, Ryde
  • When: Weekly on Wednesday and Fridays during school term at 10am
  • Who: Families with young kids
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info

Ryde Library takes their regular Friday storytime session outdoors to the piazza about once a month for stories and songs.

  • Where: Top Ryde Shopping Centre, Ryde
  • When: Mostly monthly on a Friday from 10:30am (though next one is Wednesday 22nd May)
  • Who: Families with young kids
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info
Photo credit: Josephine Sicad Photography

I love bushwalking with my boys. And it’s even nicer with some company. So I set up the Parramatta Little Bushwalkers Facebook group a few years ago and started inviting other local families to join our walks. The pace of the walks is set by the kids and its more about spending time out in nature than fitness. There can be anywhere between 3 and 25 families attending the walks. And it’s a lovely way to meet other families who enjoy being outdoor. Plus explore some great natural gems in the area.

  • Where: various parks in and around the City of Parramatta
  • When: Fortnightly on Thursday and Friday during school term
  • Who: Families with young kids
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: Register via Facebook group
  • More Info

8Early Years Garden Program | Telopea

Back in 2016, we helped start the Early Years Garden Program at Telopea after volunteering in the veggie garden at the school for a year and knowing there was interest from other families to join us. This supported activity is delivered by Seed Harvest Spoon and funded through the Telopea Schools as Community Centre initiative.

  • Where: Telopea Public School
  • When: Weekly on Tuesday during school term from 10:30am to 12pm
  • Who: Families with kids under 5yrs
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: Yes must register with the Telopea Schools as Community Centres Coordinator.
  • More Info – contact Pip Martins on 9898 3448

Dads and Kids Breakfast is a free BBQ breakfast and play time for dads and kids fortnightly on Saturday mornings in Parramatta. It’s a great way to give your partner a break and connect with other local dads.

  • Where: James Ruse Reserve, Parramatta
  • When: Fortnightly on Saturdays from 8:30am to 10:30am
  • Who: Dads and kids
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info

10Magic Yellow Bus | Inner West

The Magic Yellow Bus provides free activities and community information at seven Inner West Sydney parks each week. This mobile playgroup is for children aged 0 to 6 years and their families. We visited the one at Enmore Park on Thursday and there were lots of toys and activity stations. Note the service will not operate in wet weather, during strong winds or extreme heat.

  • Where: 7 parks in the inner west, see schedule here.
  • When: Monday to Friday from 9:30am to 12pm
  • Who: Families with kids under 5yrs
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info

This is the same as the storytime and craft time at Livvi’s Place Ryde, but on a Monday. Plus Livvi’s Place Five Dock as a cafe!

  • Where: Livvi’s Place Five Dock, Timbrell Park
  • When: Weekly on Mondays, during school term, at 10am
  • Who: Families with kids under 5yrs
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info

12Mobile Playvan | Penrith City Council

The Mobile Playvan is a FREE service in school terms and has been running since 1982! It provides supported play sessions for parents/carers with children under 6 years old at parks and community centres in the Penrith City area. Simply come along with a drink, a hat, and cut up fruit for your child. Note: The Playvan doesn’t operate on wet or very hot days, public holidays or during the school holidays.

  • Where: North Penrith, Jordan Springs, St Marys, Glenmore Park, Caddens, Claremont Meadows
  • When: Tuesday to Friday from 9:30am and 12:30pm for 2hrs
  • Who: Families with kids under 6yrs
  • Cost: FREE
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info

Paid Outdoor Activities

Here are five more regular outdoor activities that have a small fee.

I run this garden playgroup, now at Rydalmere Public School. It’s a great way for kids to learn about where their food comes from, get messy and enjoy being outdoors as a family. There is storytime, craft activity and lots of fun in the garden. It is parent led, which means everyone takes turns with reading books and organising the craft.

  • Where: Rydalmere Public School
  • When: Weekly on Wednesdays during school term from 9:30am to 11:30am
  • Who: Families with young kids
  • Cost: $10 per term per family to cover garden supplies
  • Bookings?: YES, preference is given to families attending Rydalmere Public School or living nearby. There is currently a waitlist to join.
  • More Info

14Bush Babies Nature Ramble | City of Parramatta

This activity is run by the Parramatta Heritage and Visitor Information Centre. And helps preschoolers discover the joys of the natural world, through engaging activities, storytelling and a pleasant meander in a parkland setting.

  • Where: Different parks in the City of Parramatta, like Third Settlement Reserve
  • When: Every 2 months on a weekday
  • Who: Families with young kids (best suited to preschoolers)
  • Cost: $5 per child per session
  • Bookings?: Yes, via Eventbrite
  • More Info

15Mobile Playvan | Burwood Council

Mobile Playvan

All parents/carers and their children aged 0-6 years are welcome to join Burwood’s FUN outdoor playgroup. Mobile Playvan provides a great opportunity for parents and children to socialise, make friends and have fun. There are lots of fun activities including games, storytelling, art and craft plus more.

  • Where: Burwood, Croydon and Enfield
  • When: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday during school term
  • Who: Families with kids under 6yrs
  • Cost: Gold coin donation
  • Bookings?: No, drop-in
  • More Info

16Lane Cove Bush Kids | Lane Cove Council

Lane Cove Bush Kids was established in 2011 by the Lane Cove Bushland & Conservation Society. It aims to engage young children with nature and to encourage a life-long love and care of our environment. Outdoor nature-centred activities are offered during school terms for 2 to 5 year olds and during school holidays for 2 to 10 year olds. Activities are open to all families residing in the Lane Cove Council and surrounding areas.

  • Where: Different parks in Lane Cove, like Blackman Reserve
  • When: Different weekdays during school term as well as during the school holidays
  • Who: Preschoolers and Primary School Kids
  • Cost: $5.80 per child
  • Bookings?: Yes, via Eventbrite
  • More Info

17Bush Playgroup | Lower and Middle Blue Mountains

We’ve heard such great things about Bush Playgroup in the Blue Mountains! It’s just a little far for us to go to on a weekly basis. But if you live to the west of Parramatta then you will definitely want to look into it.

Bush playgroup is a weekly facilitated social gathering for families to spend time in the bush with other families. There are two groups – 0 to 18mos and 18mos to 6yrs. The play might involve splashing in muddy puddles, smashing up charcoal, balancing on logs, climbing trees, visiting waterfalls, exploring cave shelters, making nature art, telling stories, whittling with knives, using saws and building cubby houses. Siblings in arms are free. And they offer 10% discount on a second child.

  • Where: Springwood, Hazelbrook and Lawson (changes depending on the day)
  • When: Daily on Monday to Thursday, 10am to 12pm
  • Who: 0-6yrs
  • Cost: $132 per child per term (8 weeks) for one weekly session
  • Bookings?: Yes, via Wildground website
  • More Info

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