As the weather heats up, chances are you’ll be looking for ways to cool down with the kids. While in Western Sydney we can’t easily pop down to the beach, there is still plenty of free water fun to be had!

Fortunately for us, Councils are doing a fantastic job of setting up amazing FREE water playgrounds to help families stay cool. There are also a fair few playgrounds with some sort of water play as well as swimming spots in and around the City of Parramatta, most free and some with a small fee.

Our ultimate guide to free water fun is broken up into six sections. And you will find over 30 free water play options for your family to enjoy on a hot day.

  1. Parks with water playgrounds
  2. Free swimming
  3. Parks and other places with water play
  4. 19 closest beaches to Parramatta
  5. Water playgrounds and play further afield
  6. Not free but worth mentioning

Parks With Water Playgrounds

A water playground is a great way for kids of all ages, and parents, to cool down on a warm day. They normally have fountains, tipping buckets, water jets and sprays, plus other interactive water features. The awesome news for parents is that these are splash areas so kids don’t need to know how to swim. There are nine in and around the City of Parramatta so you can visit a different one each day of the week!

This large park has the newest water playground in the Parramatta area and is already a favourite with locals. While one of the smallest water playgrounds, it will still keep kids of all ages happy and cool for a while. There are toilets at this park (about a 5min walk away), bbqs, sheltered picnic tables and a small, shaded playground with swings, slide and things to climb. Plus this water playground has two food options within easy walking distance – The Container cafe and Vikings Sports Club.

2Granville Park | Merrylands

Granville Park in Merrylands is yet another favourite amongst the community. The shaded water playground is a fantastic place to go on a warm day. There are two sections, one aimed more at little ones with things to hold onto and the other for older kids with big water jets, tipping buckets and big fountains. There are toilets within the park (but about 150m away) as well as sheltered picnic tables, plus a playground (not shaded) with swings, climbing play gym and slide.

3James Ruse Reserve | Parramatta

James Ruse Reserve water playground

This is the largest water playground in the Parramatta area and should easily keep little ones through to primary school kids splashing around for a while. The park contains seating, picnic tables and BBQs, a skate park and metered off street car park. There is also a playground, with a little natural shade, with swings, slides, rockers and rope climbing tower. Unfortunately it is the only water playground without permanent toilets, though Council usually sets up two port-a-loos.

4Francis Park | Blacktown Showground Precinct

Francis Park, Blacktown Showgrounds

There is plenty to keep the kids happily occupied at this large, popular park. From traditional play equipment and a fully shaded water playground to a flying fox, nature based play elements, plenty of grass to play on and bush to explore. Thankfully most of the play equipment has a shade cloth over it. Note: when we visited this playground in July 2017, it was in need of some TLC. The park is within walking distance from Blacktown Train Station and Bus Interchange and free parking is available. The Grounds Keeper Cafe is right near the water playground and open everyday except Tuesday.

5Putney Park | Putney

Putney Park is a fantastic park, found along Parramatta River in Putney. There is a great, free water play area suitable for young children. Unlike the other water playgrounds, this is more like toddler pools. There are no water fountains and tipping buckets, just two shallow pools connected by a pebble creek bed. There are also two other playgrounds in the park and two VERY large slides.

6Blaxland Riverside Park | Sydney Olympic Park

Blaxland Riverside Park water playground (Photo credit: surfacedesigns.com)

A large and awesome park, Blaxland Riverside Park is best suited for kids 4+. It has a fantastic water playground section as well, though there is no shade. If you are looking to visit on the weekend, best to get in before 10am as parking is difficult. There are toilets, bbqs, a kiosk and shaded sitting areas nearby, plus a sand pit for the little ones.

7Nurragingy Reserve | Doonside

This lovely Reserve contains picnic shelters, natural bushland, beautiful Chinese Gardens, waterfall, duck pond, a water playground and three other playgrounds.

  • Water operates: September through to May. In summer, the hours are 9am to 6.30pm and all other months from 10am to 5pm.
  • Address: Knox Road, Doonside

8Livvi’s Place, Bernie Mullane Reserve | Kellyville

This is the first and only water playground in the Hills, only opening in September 2017. It’s in the new Livvi’s Place at Bernie Mullane Reserve. And thankfully shade sails were installed over the water area in 2018. This water playground is only one of two that are within a fenced playground. There are also BBQs, grassed area for picnics and toilets within the Sports Complex next door. And there is a variety of play equipment for kids of all abilities.

The newest water playground on the list and the second one to be within a fenced playground – yay! This playground is smaller than Livvi’s Place the Hills but has lovely views of the Hawkesbury River, natural shade and is short drive from Windsor cafes and shops.


Free Swimming

10Lake Parramatta Reserve | North Parramatta

Swimming at Lake Parramatta Reserve (Photo credit: City of Parramatta Council)

Lake Parramatta Reserve is popular for picnicking, bushwalking and now aquatic activities – swimming, canoeing and paddle boating. You’ll find BBQ, toilets, a playground and cafe as well. Lifeguards will be on duty every weekend from late October until early April. In addition, they will be present every day of the summer school holidays and all public holidays between those dates. At all other times people are advised to swim only in the designated swimming area, marked by buoys, and observe safe swimming practices.

11Cabarita Beach | Cabarita Park

Cabarita Beach

This is the closest, swimmable ‘beach’ to Parramatta, thanks to the Our Living River project. We even saw a pod of dolphins one summer, which is a great sign that the water quality is good. I am though more concerned about sharks and with no shark net at Cabarita Beach, we only have a splash up to our knees. The beach is about 200m long and full of shells. There are a few shady spots on the beach and our favourite spot is at the opposite end to the ferry wharf. Depending on the tide, you can walk from this end of the beach, around the rocks, to Sanders Kiosk. Note: It is advised not to swim at this beach for 48hrs after heavy rain. You can check water quality at Beach Watch.

  • Address: Cabarita Park, Cabarita Road, Cabarita

12Northbridge Baths | Northbridge

High tide

The Northbridge Baths are unsupervised tidal baths, set within the stunning Sydney Harbour foreshore. The popular baths have a sandy beach at low tide and are set within the native bushland of Middle Harbour. The Baths are equipped with a BBQ, picnic area, change rooms, toilets and hot showers. Free carpark is available on Widgiewa Road, just above the baths.

Yarramundi Reserve | Richmond Area

Yarramundi Reserve

Only about 40mins north-west of Parramatta, you will find a great, gorgeous natural swimming spot along the Grose River at Yarramundi Reserve. With shallow water, sand and bushland, it is an awesome spot to take the kids.

Also see our list of the 19 closest beaches to Parramatta. All but one are free to use, though most have paid parking.


Parks and Other Places With Water Play

These parks and outdoor spaces have an area with water easily accessible for kids to play with, such as a water pump, fountain or spouts. And are in or around City of Parramatta.

13Domain Creek Playground | Parramatta Park

This is a fantastic park in the heart of Parramatta. In the Domain Creek playground located on the Westmead side, there is a host of play equipment that should keep most kids entertained for a while. From in-ground trampolines, merry-go-round, spinning chair, sit on diggers and horizontal climbing net to musical instruments, swings, slide, walking see saw, tall slide, a big birds nest swing that can probably seat at least 5 kids and flying foxes. There is also a water play area that has two pumps with channels running to a sand pit. Shade can be an issue in summer but the surrounding trees are slowly providing some protection.

Parramatta River Foreshore Park is an adventurous playground great for kids 4yrs+. The centre piece is a long slide down a steep slope. There is also a rope bridge and climbing wall, plus sand and water play. Situated on the banks of the Parramatta river, it has fantastic water views.

15Northmead Reserve | Northmead

The playground at Northmead Reserve is a lovely medium sized one, with some natural shade. It is great for toddler through to primary school. There is a colourful water table with a maze for the kids to play with.

16Jubilee Park | Parramatta

Not too far from Parramatta Library, a few cafes and the Parramatta Interchange, is Jubilee Park. It is a nice, open nature based playground with a maze and water play area. Unfortunately, there is very little shade.

17Melrose Park Playground | Melrose Park

Melrose Park Playground

This is a lovely new playground along the Parramatta River in Melrose Park, just down from the Ermington boat ramp. The play equipment is mostly made from wooden and there is a great little water play area, with a water pump going onto carved sandstone.

18Memorial Park | Meadowbank

A popular park for social gatherings, Memorial Park is a short walk from Meadowbank Wharf and train station. It has views of Parramatta River and picnic areas with a playground, war memorial and bushland areas. The playground consists of slides, climbing steps, a water pump with creek bed, swings, rope tunnel and more.
Meadow Crescent, Meadowbank

Yamble Reserve water pump and sand pit

Also known as Livvi’s Place Ryde, Yamble Reserve is an amazing park for toddlers and young kids. It is a large, fenced playground that comes with flying foxes, swings, sandpit with a water pump and other playground items. There is also BBQ facilities as well as many sheltered picnic areas, one of which is within the fenced area. You’ll find shade sails throughout the playground too. Definitely one for kids who love sand and water pumps.

20Bicentennial Park | Sydney Olympic Park

Bicentennial Park water feature (Photo credit: )

A fantastic large park that is great for family picnics, bike rides and bushwalks. There are two great, shaded playgrounds in Bicentennial Park – Village Green playground near one near the WaterView cafe and Concord West playground on the eastern side of the park. There is also a water feature, located in between the two playgrounds near the tower, which children love to run through for hours.

21Centenary Square | Parramatta CBD

Centenary Square, Parramatta CBD

Just a short stroll from Westfield Parramatta, the Parramatta Transport Interchange and Church Street cafes and restaurants, is Centenary Square. Within the square, there are a wonderful series of water spouts that the kids will love running through and splashing in. Around the water feature are a number of shade umbrellas and seating. The square is home to many major events and the site of the weekly Farmers Markets on Fridays. This would make for a great cool down pit stop after some shopping, lunch or dinner.

Top Ryde City water fountains

If you find yourself needing to go shopping and entertaining the kids on a hot day, this is a great spot to visit. Not only can you shop, you can also visit the local library. Just outside in the La Strada restaurant section, you’ll find the water features. In the warmer months I always have to make it a point to take a change of clothes in case my children decide to run through the fountains.

23Cathy Freeman Park | Sydney Olympic Park

Cathy Freeman Park has huge shady trees and easy access to many magnificent facilities. There are 2 playgrounds that the children can enjoy. The Cauldron is a favourite among kids to run under and splash about. The Cathy Freeman Park is located near the Alphones Arena.

24Francis Park | Blacktown Showground

In addition to a fun water playground, Francis Park at Blacktown Showgrounds has a water play area. There is a pump with a series of channels that can be closed and opened to redirect the water.


Further Afield – Water Playgrounds and Play

Here are some other free water fun options across Western Sydney, plus central and eastern Sydney.

25Bungarribee Park | Western Sydney Parklands, Doonside

Entrance to the playground

The new Bungarribee Park is the largest in Western Sydney. Within the playground, there is a good sized water and sand play area. It is right near the main entrance and toilet block. So yes, bring a change of clothes! The area is partially shaded – think army type camouflage. There are plenty of water pumps for the kids to ‘share’, plus channels carved in sandstone blocks and lots of sand.

26Livvi’s Place | Five Dock

One of the new additions as part of the recent upgrade of Livvi’s Place Five Dock was a water play area. It has a few bubbler taps and a wooden water table with channels. And is right near a sand play area. This all abilities, fenced playground also has bbqs, toilets and a cafe.

A large park is VERY popular on weekends and during school holidays. It has a great range of traditional and technology driven play equipment for school aged kids as well as lots nature based play elements and a small toddler play area with cubby house and sand pit. The water play area has two water pumps and a series of dams and turnpikes that let the kids direct the water in different ways, plus a creek bed the water can run down….makes for lots of fun and opportunity to get wet. There are also over 20 bbqs and picnic shelters scattered around and more than 200 parking spots.

28Steel Park | Marrickville

Steel Park water playground (Photo credit: Australian Institute of Landscape Architects)

This is a lovely, bush park set by the Cook River has a wonderful, naturally shaded playground for preschoolers, flying fox, water playground and extensive bike tracks. Within the water playground there are an interesting series of water play features including a ‘source’ feature representing the water flowing from the mountains, a ‘rills’ section representing water flowing in a river across plains, and an ‘estuary’ feature which includes a collection of jets and sprays. The partially shaded water playground operates between 10am and 6pm from October to March. To start the water, press one of the buttons on the bollards and water will flow for 10 minutes.

29Livvi’s Place | Jordan Springs

Photo credit: Daily Telegraph

This large, fenced playground near Penrith opened in October 2016. Livvi’s Place at Jordan Springs is a state-of-the-art play space with several interactive spaces. These include a large water play area with 6 water jets, a sandpit, trampolines, swings, a range of play
equipment, a performance stage and picnic areas.

30Lizard Log | Abbotsbury

Water play at Lizard Log

Lizard Log has a fantastic nature based playground with two flying foxes, giant swings, slide with climbing wall, water play, recycled timber balancing beams and sand diggers along with a great loop for scooters and bikes. It is a lovely area for family gatherings with plenty of bbqs, picnic shelters, toilets and on-site park. There are a number of walks to take and a nice little dam to visit. The only downside is that there is very little shade over the playground.

31The Playground | Darling Quarter

Water Squirts at Darling Quarter

A fantastic playground in the heart of Darling Harbour. This playground consists of swings, flying fox, ropes to climb, slides, sandpit with diggers and a fantastic water play area. There is a cafe in the middle of the playground as well as restaurants surrounding it (including McDonald’s). There is a sink with soap to wash your hands and the bathrooms aren’t too far.

32Phoenix Reserve | Erskine Park, Penrith Area

Phoenix Reserve, Erskine Park  (Photo credit: Penrith City Council)

The reserve boasts a new splash pad (opened mid December 2016) to help everyone keep cool this summer and is part of a broader range of improvements that includes new pathways, picnic shelters, new furniture and landscaping.

33Werrington Lakes | Werrington

Playground at Werrington Lakes Reserve (Photo credit: Penrith City Council)

This large reserve near Penrith has a gorgeous lake, cycle/ pathways, picnic facilities, exercise equipment, a shaded playground and splash pad. Opened in 2015, the small water play area has water spouts to help the kids cool off, but unfortunately is not shaded.

34Pirrama Park | Pyrmont

Piramma Park (Photo Credit: Furnass Landscaping)

This 1.8 hectare harbour side space in Pyrmont is located near to Star City Casino. Piramma Park includes grasslands, wide avenues great for riding a bike or scooter on, a playground with water spouts, cafe, toilets as well as picturesque harbour viewing spots for barbecues and picnics. The playground has swings, a modern rope climbing frame, nice big shaded sandpit and slides. This park is best though left until your kids wouldn’t be tempted to jump into the glistening harbour, as there is no fenced along the foreshore.

35Mary Obrien Reserve | Zetland

Mary O’Brien Reserve (Photo Credit: outdoordesign.com.au)

A lovely inner city park with two different (recently shaded) play areas, water sprinklers and lots of grass. One play area is best for toddlers and the other for older kids with a large climbing frame and slide. You’ll also find some BBQ facilities.

36Bicentennial Park | West Pymble

Not to be confused with Bicentennial Park at Sydney Olympic Park, this one is in West Pymble. The fenced playground has just received an upgrade, with an improved water play area. Plus there’s an aquatic centre and bushwalks.


Not Free But Worth Mentioning

For more info on kid friendly swimming pools, check out our list of 18 local pools.

(Photo credit: City of Parramatta Council)

Epping Aquatic and Leisure Centre has lovely outdoor pools in a tranquil bush setting. It is great for families with a kids pool and shaded baby pool. There is free on-site parking and a small entry fee. Note: there is no ramp down to the pools, so ask the staff for assistance in getting a pram down.

38Wentworthville Swimming Centre | Wentworthville [CLOSED until October]

Wentworthville Swimming Centre is a really lovely place for the family to have a splash, swim and play. There is a partially shaded toddler pool, fenced playground, BBQ and picnic table, 50m pool and mostly shaded program pool, plus a family change room. All pools are heated to approximately 28°C.

39Cabarita Swimming Centre | Cabarita Park

Toddler pool with a view at Cabarita Swimming Centre

Cabarita Park is an awesome place! Plenty of space to have a picnic and a BBQ and enjoy the summer. The park has 2 playgrounds and a swimming centre that faces Parramatta River. There is a shaded toddler pool, a shallow pool for the older kids as well as a larger pool for laps. The water is heated at 27 degrees and is salt water.

40Greenwich Baths | Greenwich [CLOSED until 30th September]

Greenwich Baths

If you are looking for a child friendly beach that isn’t to far, Greenwich Baths is the place for you. For a small fee (adults are $4.20, children 3+ and concessions are $3.20) your children get to have a beach like experience along Parramatta River. Find out more about Greenwich Baths, see our review.

41Birrong Leisure Centre | Bankstown/ Auburn Area

Water playground at Birrong Leisure Centre

If you love water playgrounds but also want to be able to go for a swim, then definitely check out Birrong Leisure Centre. There is a 50m heated outdoor pool, 25m heated indoor pool, fenced water playground, kiosk, a large number of shaded picnic tables and a few bbqs.

Aquaplay Water Park at Fairfield City Leisure Centre

Kids will enjoy splashing around the water play structure at Fairfield Leisure Centre. It features three slides, cargo nets, water cannons, fountains and a GIANT tip bucket. Entry to the Aquaplay Water Park comes with entry to the Fairfield Leisure Centre. Adults are $9.00, Children $6.00, spectators $4.00 and family (2 Adults & 2 Children) $27.00. It is open from September school holidays to end of Easter school holidays, with varying hours so best to check their website.

43Prairiewood Leisure Centre – Aquatopia | Prairiewood [CLOSED until 22nd September 2018]

The fantastic looking Aquatopia is a large, affordable water park that should thrill people of all ages, which opened in December 2016. It will re-open for the 18/19 season on 22nd September 2018 from 11am to 4pm on weekends and during the school holidays.

44Other Swimming Pools and Leisure Centres in and around Parramatta

  • Hornsby Aquatic and Leisure Centre – This is one of our favourites and we think it has the warmest water. There are three heated pools, water features for the kids, a cafe, a gym and a water slide.
  • Ruth Everuss Aquatic Centre – These indoor and outdoor pools re-opened in 2016 after significant renovations. There is now also an outdoor water playground.
  • Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre – The leisure pool has a bubble beach and water volcanoes and next to it there is splasher’s water playground, water slides and rapid river.
  • Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre – a great, family friendly swimming centre with 50m indoor Olympic pool, warm water program pool, 40m wave pool, children’s wading pool, bubble whirl pools, rapid river, 56m giant water slide and cafe.

Sydney Olympic Aquatic Centre

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