Discover Lake Parramatta Reserve in Sydney’s West

Last updated: November 19, 2021

Lake Parramatta was created as a result of the damming of Hunts Creek in 1856. The lake is now a recreational area with picnic facilities, boat hire, a cafe, a swimming area, and three marked bush walking trails.

Hiking in Lake Parramatta Reserve is a great day out, as you walk through 75ha of bushland around an idyllic lake with a decommissioned dam.

The longest trail is the full circuit walk that loops around the entire lake. The other two walks are much shorter and easier to do.

Read on, and find out how Lake Parramatta Reserve can be a great day trip and weekend destination.

Lake Parramatta Reserve Circuit Walk
Distance: 4.2 km (full circuit)
Duration: 2 hours
Grade: Easy / moderate
Dogs: On a lead

How to Get There

Lake Parramatta Reserve has a free car park right at the official entrance to the reserve, with a capacity of more than 60 parking spots. If this is full, you should be able to find suburban street parking nearby.

You can easily access the reserve via Lackey Street off Bourke Street in North Parramatta (see map location).

If you prefer to use public transport, bus route number 609 stops nearby on Bourke Street. Check the Transport NSW website to help plan your trip.

Map of Lake Parramatta Reserve

About Lake Parramatta Reserve

The Lake Parramatta Reserve is a man-made reservoir just north of Parramatta, and 30 kilometers west of the Sydney CBD.

Lake Parramatta was officially opened for swimming in the beginning of 2015 after more than 70 years of closure due to unclean water.

Lake Parramatta
Lake Parramatta

The Reserve is open all year round, with the main gate opening at 6:30 am and closing at 5:30 pm (7:30 pm during summer months).

Besides hiking, the area also offers great picnicking and BBQ facilities, a designated swimming area, playgrounds, boat hire, a cafe, and free parking.

Lake Parramatta Dam

The 15 metres high Lake Parramatta Dam, completed in 1856, was the first large dam built in Australia. The dam has an arch design, which at the time was actually quite advanced.

The purpose of the dam was to provide the local area with water. The dam closed in 1909 and the lake has since been transformed into a popular recreational area.

Lake Parramatta Dam
Lake Parramatta Dam

The dam wall is relatively small and, unlike the Manly Dam, you can’t actually walk on top of it.

However, the circuit trail loops around it, and offers great views of the dam.

Walking Tracks

Lake Parramatta Reserve is a fantastic bushwalking destination, with three great walking tracks to choose from:

  1. She-Oak Track (1.5 km)
  2. Banksia Track (2.4 km)
  3. Lake Circuit (4.2 km)

Both the She-Oak Track and the Banksia Track are short walking tracks, suitable for young children.

The Lake Circuit walking track is a bit longer and slightly more challenging, as it goes all around the lake and includes (parts of) the shorter She-Oak and Banksia tracks.

If you are doing the full lake circuit, it’s best to start east of the parking area, looping around the lake anti-clockwise. This way you will start the loop with the She-Oak Track and finish at the dam.

It’s recommended to familiarise yourself with the three trails before starting. With three trails merging into one another, the signposting can actually be a bit confusing at times, and you may end up going the wrong way.

Below is a map with these three walks. For your convenience, you can download a copy of the map from the City of Parramatta website.

Map with walking tracks in Lake Parramatta Reserve

1. She-Oak Track

The She-Oak Track is the shortest of the three tracks in the reserve.

It’s an easy 1500 metres (return) walk that starts along the shore of the lake, and then loops back via a road with lots of beautiful She-Oak trees.

She-Oak Track signpost

If you are doing the full circuit then you can simply keep following the shoreline of the lake, instead of returning to the car park via the She-Oak track.

This is also where the Banksia Track starts.

2. Banksia Track

The Banksia Track is a slightly more challenging 2400 metres hike along the eastern side of Lake Parramatta.

Northern point of Lake Parramatta Reserve

This part of the circuit offers some good views of the lake and, as the name suggests, the trail is rich with Banksias and other trees native to Eastern Australia.

From here you can either choose to complete the full circuit, or you can return to where you started via the She-Oak track.

3. Lake Circuit

As you continue on to the north part of Lake Parramatta from the Banksia Track, the circuit walk will now slowly evolve into a more challenging bushwalk.

At the northernmost part of the lake, you cross a little creek to go back south via the western side of lake Parramatta. The views of the lake are the best on this side, while hiking through scenic bushland.

Hiking around Lake Parramatta

Lake Parramatta Reserve is home to various types of native birds and animals that you may spot, such as rosellas, cockatoos, kookaburras, frogs and lizards.

The last stretch of the circuit walk goes around the Lake Parramatta Dam, and from there back to the picnic area.

Summary

What’s great about Lake Parramatta Reserve is that it offers the opportunity to experience bush walking in Sydney whilst still being very close to both the Sydney and Parramatta CBDs.

The hike around the lake is not too hard but can be somewhat challenging because of patches with rough surface. Cycling through this area is possible but not recommended because of that reason.

The area is very family friendly, with picnic and BBQ facilities, public toilets, a small cafe to rest up and have a coffee, boat hire, and lots of parking options.

The dedicated swimming area in the lake is another great reason to come out to Lake Parramatta and to enjoy a great day outdoors.

 

Lake Parramatta Reserve walking tracks

 
 
19 Comments
  1. I have a small radio controlled sailing boat under 1 metre. Can I sail this on Lake Parramatta on week days? I would be using it on week days only, not on weekends, school holidays or public holidays as the lake is too congested at these times.

    Reply
  2. Hello there.
    I would like to take my family to Parramatta Lake for lunch on a Sunday using the BBQ’s facilities. Am I able to reserve an area of the undercover tables and a BBQ for the day, or do I have to get there as early as possible to reserve a spot? If so, what time do the gates open on a Sunday?
    Regards Greg Elliott, Merrylands

    Reply
    • Hi Greg, the park is open from 6:30 AM. On a sunny day, especially weekends, it can get a bit busy, but if you arrive early you should be fine. As far as we know you can’t make a reservation. Have fun!

      Reply
  3. Which if any of the tracks at Lake Parramatta Reserve might be suitable for smaller humans (3 years old)?

    I’ve noted that these tracks have uneven ground. We usually bring our bicycle trailer/jogger for the times the little ones legs can’t keep up, these things are a different sort of a beast to normal prams as they have large 50cm rear wheels as well as suspension. We’re hoping to join an organised hike this weekend so doing a recce is unfortunately not an option.

    Any advice?

    Reply
    • Hello David, for smaller humans at that age the She-Oak and Banksia tracks should be doable. It’s not a hard walk, and the kids will probably enjoy the path along the water. Or otherwise, do a bit of exploring around the dam, which the young ones might find interesting. It’s not far from the main parking area.

      Reply
  4. Hello, is there any areas where my dog can swim but not (or no) people are there? I want to take him to swim as he hasn’t done so in such a long time. Is there any off leash dog places? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hello Elyse,

      To my knowledge, dogs are not permitted to swim at Lake Parramatta as they must be on leash at all times. They can do the walking tracks though.

      Have a look at our resources for dogs, maybe there’s a beach or a dog friendly park close to where you live.

      Reply
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