As the oldest inland European settlement established in 1788, Parramatta city has a rich collection of heritage sites and beautifully landscaped gardens. The Parramatta river has always been the lifeblood of Sydney’s second city; fresh water from its adjoining creeks meets salt water from the harbour.
Parramatta was also home to the indigenous Burramatta clan. Their name literally means “the place where eels lie down,” and is how this city derived its quirky name.
While rich in history and culture, Parramatta is also lively and child-friendly. Blessed with beautiful parks and lakes, heritage sites, outdoor play areas, sporting venues, and exciting festivals and events, it is the quintessential family-friendly destination in Australia.
In this edition of PARKROYAL Picks, the PARKROYAL Parramatta team shows you how to have fun with your whole family in this charming city.
|Address||Parramatta Park (Pitt Street Entrance), NSW 2150
|Phone Number||+61 2 9635 8149
|Opening Hours||Tuesday to Sunday: 10:00am to 4:00pm. (Last tour: 3:30pm)
|Admission Fees||General admission - $14
Concession - $11
Child - $6
Family - $27
Built in classic Georgian style in the early 1800s, the Old Government House Parramatta is Australia’s oldest surviving public building. Built entirely by convicts, the Old Government House is set within the lush parklands of the former Governor's Domain, now Parramatta Park.
The Old Government House was the country residence for the first 10 governors of New South Wales. They include Governor Lachlan Macquarie and his wife Elizabeth Macquarie, who was said to have an “impeccable taste in gardens” and preferred the clean air and space of rural Parramatta to downtown Sydney.
Considered both an European and Aboriginal archaeological resource of national significance, the property offers incredible insights to the evolution of New South Wales and Australian society since 1788. One of 11 Australian Convict Sites accorded the UNESCO World Heritage site status, this historic monument also houses an important collection of original colonial furniture in Australia.
Get directions to the Old Government House
|Address||Hassall Street, Parramatta, NSW 2150
|Opening Hours||September to May: 9:00am to 8:00pm
June to August: Closed
When the days are hot (especially during the summer), Parramatta’s families flock to James Ruse Reserve Water Playground – the largest water playground in the city.
This water park is almost entirely shaded and has a non-slip surface that is safe for little tots. Play features like tipping buckets, mini fountains, and larger cascading water features provide endless thrills for older children.
Don’t wish to get your kids wet? Set them free at the great dry playground and skatepark here. Equipped with a BBQ pit area, you can whip up an Aussie-styled “barbie” while your children play.
Do note that the restroom facilities are a fair walk from the playground, which might make it a tad inconvenient for younger ones. Swim diapers may thus be the order of the day.
Get directions to James Ruse Water Playground
|Address||Parramatta Wharf, Parramatta NSW 2150, Australia
A trip down Parramatta river by ferry is one of the best ways to experience Sydney’s most iconic places. You can begin your trip at Parramatta wharf, which is located next to the Queens' Wharf Reserve and the historic Gasworks Bridge. The wharf lies close to the site of Governor Phillip’s first official landing place in 1788, back when Parramatta was established as the second settlement in Australia.
Built by convicts out of gum tree logs, Parramatta wharf is served by ferry services operating to and from Circular Quay. En route to Circular Quay, you can drop off at several noteworthy spots such as Sydney Olympic Park and Cockatoo Island—the largest island in the Sydney region.
Travellers love exploring Sydney by ferry as it allows them to see a lot more than just downtown Sydney. It also offers great vantage points to capture photographs of Sydney’s harbour attractions.
Get directions to Parramatta Wharf
Plan your ferry trip here
Grounds Keeper Café
|Address||30 Argyle Ave, Ryde NSW 2112
|Phone Number||+61 2 9808 4696
|Opening Hours||Monday, Wednesday to Friday: 9:00am to 4:00pm
Saturday, Sunday, and Public Holidays: 8:00am to 4:00pm
Closed on Tuesdays
Lil Miss Collins
|Address||13-15 Wentworth St, Parramatta, NSW 2150
|Opening Hours||Monday to Friday: 7:00am to 3:30pm
Saturday and Sunday: 7:30am to 3:00pm
Located at the restored gatehouse entrance to a tranquil inner suburban park, the Grounds Keeper Café is hailed as one of the most child-friendly cafés in Sydney.
With a small playground close by, kid-friendly facilities like high chairs and baby change tables, and most of all, abundant green spaces all around, it is not difficult to see why Grounds Keeper is a keeper for families travelling in Parramatta. Plus, it serves up excellent coffee and brunches, perfect for tired out parents who need a zing.
Another good family dining option is Lil Miss Collins, a quirky little café that is located behind Parramatta Station. Animal and child-friendly with a toy corner and little animal residents, the café touts organic, vegan, and vegetarian meal options as one of their allures.
Get directions to Grounds Keeper Café
Get directions to Lil Miss Collins Café
|Address||Enter from Lackey Street via Bourke Street, North Parramatta, NSW
|Phone Number||+61 2 9806 5050
|Opening Hours||6:30am - 5:30pm daily (or 7:30pm during daylight savings time)
Lake Parramatta Reserve is a 73-hectare bushland and parkland reserve located just two kilometres away from Parramatta’s central business district. Created from the damming of Hunts Creek in 1856, it is the largest surviving bushland in the Parramatta district, and also one of the most scenic bushland remnants in Western Sydney.
Lake Parramatta reserve is popular for swimming, picnicking and bushwalking, with a visitor’s kiosk open on weekends. It features three marked bushwalking trails. The longest is the 4.2km Lake Circuit that goes around the entire lake. Families with younger children unused to long walks may opt for the shorter She-Oak Track (1.5km) or Banksia Trail (2.4km).
Get directions to Lake Parramatta
Australia Day Parramatta is one of the biggest celebrated events in Parramatta every year. Happening on 26 January 2018 at Parramatta Park, visitors can enjoy a spectacular aerial hot air balloon display, fun kids' activities, a massive BBQ cookout, a talent competition featuring Parramatta’s local talents, and a grand fireworks finale.
Get directions to Parramatta Park