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)|
|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.
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.
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.
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.
Lake Parramatta Reserve is a fantastic bushwalking destination, with three great walking tracks to choose from:
- She-Oak Track (1.5 km)
- Banksia Track (2.4 km)
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.