I was surprised to learn recently that one of our favourite family spots, from when we lived in the Sutherland Shire, is actually only 28kms from Parramatta! The beautiful Carss Park is on the Georges River, not far from Hurstville, at Kogarah Bay. I used to visit here almost weekly when my now 5 year old was a bub. We even had his 1st birthday there, at one of the very large picnic shelters. Can’t believe it has taken me this long to realise it ranks 3rd in terms of closest beach to Parramatta (by driving distance)! Though you do have to travel down the busy King Georges Road to get there.
In my books, Carss Park is the total package park for families with young kids, like Cabarita Park and Lake Parramatta Reserve. But even better as it has a netted, shallow swimming beach! Plus there’s a great playground, yummy family-friendly cafe, BBQs, picnic shelters, toilets, street library, swimming pool, bushwalks and on-site parking. Tick, tick, tick….
Now of course this does mean it gets very busy on weekends… but which great family spot in Sydney doesn’t! So go early if visiting there on a weekend. Carss Park is particularly lovely to visit on a weekday with your little ones. Just make sure to pack your swimmers and sand toys!
The playground at Carss Park got a significant upgrade late 2016 and is now the centrepiece of the park! There’s sand play, climbing, merry-go-round, swings, flying fox, slides, cubby houses, see-saws, musical instruments and nature play elements.
The old fenced playground for little ones was kept when they did the upgrade. And a great, nature based all abilities playground was built around it!
There are shade sails over about 50% of the play equipment. And lots of trees that will provide more shade to other parts of the playground in years to come. Making it a great all year round playground. Though it can get windy in winter.
Even though it’s a large size playground, there is line of site across most of it. Which is handy when you have more than one little one.
We particularly love the art and natural elements incorporated into the playground.
2Carss Park Cafe and Grill and Street Library
There’s a great menu, delicious food, lovely views and wonderful, family-friendly service at the Carss Park Cafe and Grill. I have very fond memories of spending time here with my eldest when he was a bub. And on returning recently, after 4 years, the service was just as friendly and welcoming. Peter and his team do a great job and I would visit Carss Park just for the cafe! The fact that it has so much else to offer definitely makes it worth the trip!
There is a kids menu and a nice selection of light meals, mains and drinks for lunch from 12pm. Plus a breakfast menu beforehand.
We love sitting outside under the umbrella’s, so the kids have a bit more room to move. But the inside seating is just as nice with large open windows, great views over the water and LOTS of natural light.
On weekends, there is a coffee window open on the side near the street library and ladies toilets (which has a baby change table).
And a bit of trivia, the operator of Carss Park Cafe and Grill used to operate the cafe in Parramatta Park about 12 years ago!
The beach at Carss Park is a lovely, natural swimming spot along the Georges River. It is netted and mostly shallow, which is great with young kids. There is shade on parts of the beach throughout the day, thanks to facing south and a line of mature trees. Plus, seats, a large grassed area and showers just behind the sand.
Remember, it is recommended to NOT swim in the river for 2-3 days after heavy rain.
Carss Park is perfect for birthday parties and family gatherings as well as small family picnics. There are a number of large picnic shelters around the playground and towards the south side of Carss Park. This is also where you will find the BBQs. You can’t book the shelters and so need to get there early, like 7am, on weekends to secure them.
The toilets are located behind the cafe, including a baby change table. Plus, there are bubblers/ taps around the park.
I must confess, we haven’t yet walked up to the lookout or through the bush reserve behind the playground. It is hard to draw the kids away from the playground, beach and cafe! But we have heard they are little kid-friendly. And look forward to checking them out soon.
6Kogarah War Memorial Olympic Swimming Pool
On the north side of Carss Park, next to the sports fields is a swimming pool. Again we haven’t been to the pool but understand that there is a 50m outdoor and a learn to swim indoor heated pool. It appears that Council is planning to demolish the pool later this year at the moment.
7Exercise Equipment and Sports Fields
On the other side of the pool car park, is some exercise equipment and a few large sports fields, known as Carss Park Flats.
Carss Park even has its own Men’s Shed! The St George Men’s Shed is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 1pm. Plus there is a dog off leash area.
And if you are wondering if there is an extra ‘s’ in the name, you can read more about the history of Carss Park here.
Finding Carss Park
Carss Park is only 28kms at the end of King Georges Road. But that 28kms can take a long time depending on when you go and how much traffic you get stuck in.
There are two main entrances to Carss Park – via Bunyala Street to the south and Carwar Avenue from the north. The Bunyala Street entrance has the larger of the two on-site car parks. The swimming pool and sports fields are at the Carwar Avenue entrance. And the cafe and playground are roughly in the middle of both car parks.
Places of Interest Nearby
- Imperial Peking Restaurant Blakehurst
- St George Sailing Club
- Westfield Hurstville
- St George Hospital
Other Total Package Fun Parks for Young Kids
These total package parks that have a swimming, cafe, playground, picnic facilities, toilets and usually something else like bushwalking are very rare gems in Sydney. Here are a few that we can recommend: