From outdoor adventures, water action and plenty of hands-on history, it’s no wonder that exploring the City of Parramatta is a must-do for families. Here are 11 outdoor activities to enjoy.
The big backyard
Parramatta’s most loved outdoor space is sprawling Parramatta Park. Enjoy the loop track, explore historic buildings or amble through the Aboriginal Landscape Trail. With delightful flower gardens, water play areas, three playgrounds - including the much-loved Domain Creek with trampolines, flying foxes and birds nest swing all shaded by gum trees, put it top of your to-do list.
Parramatta Park, Pitt St & Macquarie St, Parramatta 2150; Open 24 hours, seven days a week, but is not lit after hours.
Hands on history
Early Colonial history is vividly brought to life at Elizabeth Farm, the 1793 estate of the MacArthur’s, Australia’s wool pioneers. With a relaxed policy throughout the homestead, kids can run wild in the self-contained gardens, touch the exhibits and get hands-on with farm chores; washing, baking damper and churning butter the old fashioned way. For hungry tummies bring a picnic or head to the tearooms next-door.
Elizabeth Farm, 70 Alice St, Rosehill 2142; Open Wednesday - Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm.
For a City wilderness, Lake Parramatta Reserve has beautiful bushland teeming with native species. Hike one of the three bush-walking trails, bring bikes for an off-road adventure and be sure to check out the dam. In summer the lake is patrolled by lifeguards and a swimmers delight, also popular with for-hire stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and paddle boats. Bring a picnic, spark up a BBQ or grab a cheeky snack at the café.
Lake Parramatta Reserve, 28 Bourke St North Parramatta 2150; Open daily 6:30am – 5:30pm.
The City is bursting with fantastic outdoor spaces to run, play and relax in. But at James Ruse Reserve not only can the kids try out the gnarly skate bowl but in summer, beat the heat with the City’s largest water play area. With water jets, fountains, tunnels and tipping buckets, a non-slip surface and plenty of shade why not bring a picnic, fire up the BBQ or order a pizza from Eat Street?
45 Hassall St Parramatta 2150; Open from 9:00am - 8:00pm every day.
Step back in time
Re-imagine early settlement with a visit to Old Government House, the convict-built home of Australia’s first Governors. Explore the rooms and discover how the Burramattagal people, the traditional owners of the land played a part in its construction. And when the history gets too much, head outside to Parramatta Park and run wild!
Old Government House 1A Pitt St Parramatta 2150; Open Tuesday - Sunday 10:00am - 4:00pm.
Paddle, float and swim
If you and the kids want to make some waves or even burn off some steam and get some laps in, head to Epping for some outdoor swimming action at Epping Aquatic Centre. With a six-lane 50 metre pool and additional shaded toddler pool, there are plenty of reasons to splash around.
Dence Park, 26 Stanley Road Epping 2121; Open daily; 02 9806 5633
Float down the river
Make the journey part of the fun by taking a RiverCat to Parramatta from Sydney Circular Quay (Wharf Number 5). The Inner route goes via Cockatoo Island and the outer via Sydney Olympic Park, both of which make great stopovers or day trips. End to end it’s a seventy-minute ride; tell the kids that originally it was a week’s journey and today there are plenty of bridges, buildings and stops along the way to keep everyone entertained.
Parramatta River Ferry, Phillip Street Parramatta 2150; Visit the Transport NSW website for timetable & fares.
The local Darug people lived along the banks of the Parramatta River for thousands of years before Europeans floated down from Old Sydney Town. Today Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture is still an integral part of life in the City and families love to explore the Riverside walkway. Discover the bold and colourful footpath paintings that artist Jamie Eastwood has created to re-tell the story of local Aboriginal history across time. The Foreshore Park and its “wheeee” slide is a must-do to burn off steam and at the Barry Wilde Bridge Fountain see who can get wet!
Foreshore Park, off Elizabeth Street Parramatta 2150; Open 24 hours, seven days a week.
Jump on a bike
Bike lovers big, medium and small are warmly welcomed in Parramatta. Follow the easy loop trail around Parramatta Park or for those with energy in spades continue on the 7km River Cycleway to Sydney Olympic Park.
Open 24 hours, seven days a week.
Festival a go-go
For entertainment, food and culture in one hit the City has a bunch of family-friendly events and festivals each season. Parramasala is a spicy celebration of Asian culture, Prince Alfred Square becomes a winter wonderland for Winterlight, for funfair rides, groovy tunes and market stalls there’s Kidtopia and summer highlights include Sydney Festival, Australia Day Fireworks and kids film festival Tropfest Junior.
Visit our events calendar to find out what’s coming up in Parramatta.
See spins on the Speedway
For car lovers and speed demons, treat the family to a night out at the iconic Sydney Speedway, also known as the Valvoline Raceway track. Across the year family-friendly events include Sprint and Speed cars and the much-loved Demolition Derbies, a kind of grown up version of the dodgems but with less manners.
Valvoline Raceway 21 Wentworth St Granville 2142; Visit the Sydney Speedway website for times and details.