Bushwalking in Lake Parramatta Reserve (Visitor Guide)

Lake Parramatta was created as a result of the damming of Hunts Creek in 1856. The lake is now a recreational area with picnic areas, a cafe, a swimming precinct, boat hire facilities, and a great walking track.

This 4 km circuit walk meanders through 75 hectares of scenic bushland around an idyllic lake with a decommissioned dam. For young kids, there are shorter trails available too.

Read on for a complete list of things to do in Lake Parramatta Reserve in Sydney’s west.

Lake Parramatta Walk
Distance: 4.2 km (full circuit)
Duration: 1.5 hours
Grade: Easy / moderate
Dogs: On a lead

How to Get There

Lake Parramatta Reserve has three car parking areas close to the entrance to the reserve, with a capacity of more than 60 parking spots. If the reserve is full, you can park nearby on Bourke St.

To drive to the reserve, turn into Lackey Street from Bourke Street in North Parramatta (see map location).

Public transport is also an option, with bus route number 609 stopping along Bourke Street with a good connection to Parramatta train station. 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 water reservoir and parkland just north of Parramatta and 30 kilometres west of the Sydney CBD.

To protect the diversity of native flora and fauna and their habitats in this large area of native bushland, Lake Parramatta Reserve was proclaimed as a Wildlife Refuge in 2012 under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

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 the daylight savings months).

Besides hiking, the area also offers excellent 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 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 and the lake it has created.

Top Things to Do

Lake Parramatta Reserve is a family-friendly destination, with excellent facilities and lots of activities for young and old.

Here are some of the top things to do at the reserve.

1. Have a Picnic

Picnic area Lake Parramatta Reserve
Picnic area Lake Parramatta Reserve

Lake Parramatta Reserve has excellent picnic facilities, with covered tables, electric BBQs, toilet facilities, and lots of space on the grass.

You can find the sheltered tables and BBQ facilities behind the cafe, close to the P3 car parking area.

2. Visit the Cafe

Lake Parramatta Cafe
Lake Parramatta Cafe

If picnics or BBQs aren’t your thing or you simply don’t have the time for it, then the Lake Parramatta Cafe is there to help you.

Sit down for a coffee and a bite, either inside or outside on the deck, while enjoying the serene atmosphere of the reserve and taking in the views.

3. Hire a Boat

Hire a boat at Lake Parramatta
Hire a boat at Lake Parramatta

Another fun thing to do at the lake is to hire a boat so you can explore this beautiful area from the water.

There is no need to make a booking. Simple visit Parramatta Rowboats at the wharf, pick your favourite boat (kayak, rowboat, pedalboat, swan boat), and off you go!

4. Visit the Playground

Playground at Lake Parramatta Reserve
Playground at Lake Parramatta Reserve

The well-maintained and well-presented playground at the reserve is home to a slide, a couple of swings, stone sculptures, and so much more.

The playground is located at the P3 parking area at the top of the reserve, opposite the toilet block. There is a fence between the playground and the road.

5. Go Swimming

Swimming precinct in Lake Parramatta
Swimming precinct in Lake Parramatta

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

The enclosed approved swimming precinct is located just north of the visitor hub and is easy to access via a path.

6. Go Hiking

Perhaps the most popular activity at Lake Parramatta Reserve is to go hiking.

The Parramatta Lake Walk is one of the best bushwalking trails in Sydney, with great views to enjoy from start to finish.

Keep reading for more information about this walking trail.

Lake Parramatta Walk

Lake Parramatta Reserve is a fantastic bushwalking destination with lots to see and explore.

The main walking track, the Lake Parramatta Walk (also referred to as Parramatta Lake Walk, Lake Circuit, or Lake Parramatta Circuit Walk), is a 4.2 km bushwalking trail that loops around the lake.

It consists of four walking tracks that combined form a circuit:

  1. Heritage Path (300 m)
  2. Reservoir Track (600 m)
  3. Upper Lake Track (2.1 km)
  4. Arrunga Bardo Walk (900 m)

For young children who can’t do the entire loop, the Heritage Path and the Arrunga Bardo Walk are suitable as shorter alternatives.

The Lake Parramatta Walk is an easy to moderately challenging bushwalking track with sections of uneven surfaces and some steps. The walk is well-signposted from start to finish, and the path is well-maintained.

It’s recommended to start west of the parking area (central visitor hub), looping around the lake in a clockwise manner, although going the other way is perfectly fine too. The below track notes, however, assume you will be going clockwise.

Below is a map of the Lake Parramatta Walk. You can download a copy of the map from the City of Parramatta website.

Map of Lake Parramatta Walk

1. Heritage Path

The Heritage Path is a short (wheelchair-assisted accessible) walking trail from the visitor hub (main parking area) to the Dam Wall Lookout.

Heritage Path along Lake Parramatta
Heritage Path

This is a lovely walking path along the lake’s southern shoreline, past the swimming and boat hire area, to the lookout, where visitors can enjoy views of the dam wall and the lake.

2. Reservoir Track

From the Dam Wall Lookout, the trail continues behind the Lake Parramatta Dam wall, crossing Hunts Creek via stepping stones.

Lower Hunts Creek Crossing
Lower Hunts Creek Crossing

From the other side of the creek, the views of the dam are pretty spectacular, with the lake and the visitor hub in the background.

The 600 metres Reserve Track starts from the dam and leads to the Reservoir Lookout, a great viewing point with perhaps the best views of the lake.

Reservoir Lookout at Lake Parramatta
Reservoir Lookout

The Reservoir Track is a bit harder than the Heritage Path as it involves a bit of climbing, a creek crossing, and rough surfaces.

3. Upper Lake Track

From the Reservoir Lookout, the Lake Parramatta Walk continues as the 2.1 km long Upper Lake Track.

As the name suggests, this walking track explores the northern part of the reserve. This section is the most challenging part of the circuit walk but is still relatively easy to do.

Upper Hunts Creek crossing
Upper Hunts Creek crossing

At the northernmost part of the lake, the trail crosses Hunts Creek once again, to turn back south via the eastern side of Lake Parramatta.

As you hike through this scenic patch of bushland, keep an eye out for the various types of native birds and animals that reside there, such as rosellas, cockatoos, kookaburras, frogs, and lizards.

4. Arrunga Bardo Walk

From the Arrunga Bardo Lookout, the circuit walk continues as the Arrunga Bardo (“Calm Waters”) Walk, which is the last section before arriving back at the visitor hub.

This section includes the Arrunga Bardo Garden, a green area that was developed in 2005, with new signage installed in 2022.

Arrunga Bardo Walk
Arrunga Bardo Walk

Various plants in the Arrunga Bardo Garden were a food source for the Burramattagal People, a clan of the Dharug, who first settled along the upper reaches of the Parramatta River.

The Arrunga Bardo Garden can also easily be accessed from the car park (only 50 metres away), and the path is wheel-friendly.

 

Things to do in Lake Parramatta Reserve

 

Published: May 22, 2023
Updated: May 22, 2023

Also Read:

 
Author:

AJ Mens

AJ Mens is a digital publisher based in Sydney, Australia, and the editor-in-chief of Sydney Uncovered and Blue Mountains Uncovered.

AJ Mens on LinkedInAJ Mens on XAJ Mens on Facebook
19 Comments
  1. Hello there,

    I would like to take my family to Parramatta Lake for lunch on a Sunday using the BBQ 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
  2. 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
  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 Heritage Path is lovely. It’s a very easy trail and the kids will probably enjoy the path along the water. You can then take them a bit further to the dam if they feel like it.

      Reply
  4. 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
Leave a comment