When we’ve asked other parents with young kids what their favourite Sydney beach is, Clontarf Reserve is always mentioned – and a few times at that! And its easy to see why, even though it’s the 14th closest beach to Parramatta…
- fun shaded playground
- yummy kiosk
- lovely sand on the beach
- netted swimming area with gradual depth
- views over middle harbour and the Spit Bridge
- grassed area just behind the beach
- beautiful big trees to sit under for shade
- BBQs and picnic tables
BUT there’s a catch! And it’s the reason why we haven’t shouted about this spot before now. Clontarf Reserve gets CRAZY busy on weekends and pretty busy during school holidays (when we have visited in the past). And parking is very expensive if you aren’t lucky to find a free car spot. Plus you have to go down Military Road to get there and traffic along there isn’t pleasant at the best of times. There is though a solution…. go to Clontarf Reserve on a school day. Or (very) early on the weekend!
And you will be rewarded for your efforts with a lovely day out with your family and big smiles all round once there! Clontarf Reserve is one of those total package fun parks to visit for families with young kids….
Clontarf Beach has nice soft whitish sand and there is more or less beach depending on the tide. The beach is a good length, going around to the marina to the north and Clontarf Point to the south. About in the middle, out the front of Clontarf Reserve, is the netted swimming area. The beach here gets deep gradually and you can swim out the back of the net.
Behind the beach is a grassed area and lots of great big trees to sit under for shade.
Whenever we have been, the water has been clean. The kids had lots of fun collecting jelly blubbers last time we were there which are completely harmless and look like clear jellyfish with no tentacles. Keep in mind that it is NOT recommended to swim within 3 days of heavy rain.
And to add some more fun, there is a mobile floating ‘water park’ that operates on weekends and in school holidays just off Clontarf Beach. Jungle Float has a slide, trampolines, high and medium jumps and a rope swing. Sessions go for 1.5hrs and cost $30.
The playground sits between the car park and beach. It’s a decent size and has shade sails over it. The ground is sand and there’s a mix of play equipment suited for toddlers through to young primary school kids.
We usually have a play while waiting for our order from the kiosk. Or when we need a little break from being in the sun on the beach. My kids particularly like the sand scoopers that you can pull up and pipes to pour sand down in the back play gym. So you don’t need your sand toys, though we recommend you still bring them.
There is also a ground level boat with a small slide, good for little ones.
And a bigger climbing play gym for the slightly older kids with a bigger slide.
There are also two swing sets – one at the front and one at the back of the playground.
Around the outside of the playground are seats in the shade.
Whether you are after lunch or a snack, the kiosk at Clontarf Reserve has something delicious for you. I particularly like their salad bowls. And the large chips are a decent serve and more than enough for my two preschoolers. They have kids milkshakes for $4 but I think it is much better value getting one large milkshake at $8 – it is definitely more than two small cups.
The staff are really friendly and lovely. I like having the option of enjoying lunch from the kiosk, which means one less bag to carry.
There is also a newish cafe just a short walk away north at the Clontarf Marina, called The Sandy Bear. We haven’t tried it yet but it looks like a lovely spot for lunch or a coffee.
4Picnic and Other Facilities
Throughout Clontarf Reserve, there are picnic tables. And BBQs in front of the toilet block. There is also a water refill station and showers just behind the beach.
Now a highlight for my family of going to Clontarf Reserve is watching the Spit Bridge open. There is a great view from the beach and if you time it just right, like we magically did one time, you can be approaching the bridge when it is raised.
Spit Bridge is opened at scheduled times to let boats through. On a weekday, its 10:15am, 11:15am, 1:15pm and 2:15pm. And on weekends, 8:30am, 10am, 11:30am, 2:30pm and 4:30pm. It also opens during the evening. Check the scheduled times here.
Clontarf Reserve is actually along the famous and popular Spit Bridge to Manly coastal walk, which is 10km long. So you could always take the family for a little walk north or south from Clontarf Reserve along the beach if you still have any energy after playing on the beach and playground.
Finding Clontarf Reserve
There is on-site parking at Clontarf Reserve next to the cafe and playground. But it costs $10 per hour to a maximum of $28 for the day! Too expensive for my budget. There is however unrestricted parking on nearby streets. You just need to go on a school day, or go early on the weekend, to get a spot. We usually get a free spot on either Holmes Ave or Peronne Ave near the turn to Sandy Bay Road. It’s just a short walk then to the playground, cafe and beach.
While buses do run nearby, it would take about 2hrs to get to Clontarf Beach by public transport from Parramatta.
Places of Interest Nearby
- Spit Bridge
- Spit Bridge to Manly walk
- Taronga Zoo