Discover Lake Parramatta Reserve

Last updated: March 18, 2021

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

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 and three marked bush walking trails.

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.

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

How to Get There

Lake Parramatta Reserve has a free car park right at the entrance of the park, with a capacity of 68 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).

If you prefer to use public transport, bus route number 609 stops at 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.

Lake Parramatta
Lake Parramatta

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

Besides hiking, the area also offers great picnicking and BBQ facilities, a designated swimming area, playgrounds 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 in the Reserve

Lake Parramatta Reserve is home to three great walking tracks:

  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 is strongly recommended to familiarise yourself with the three trails before starting. With three trails merging into one another, the sign posting 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 of Lake Parramatta Reserve with walking tracks

1. She-Oak Track

The She-Oak Track is the shortest of the three tracks in the Lake Parramatta 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 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 serious 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, as you hike through beautiful bushland.

Hiking around Lake Parramatta

The Lake Parramatta Reserve is home to a lot 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.


The great thing about Lake Parramatta Reserve is that it gives you the opportunity to experience bush walking in Sydney and wildlife whilst still being close to both the Sydney and Parramatta CBDs.

The hike around the lake is not too hard but can be challenging at times due to uneven surfaces. Cycling through this area is possible but not recommended because of that reason.

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

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


Discover Lake Parramatta Reserve

  1. 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

    • Hi Greg, the park is open from 6:30AM. 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!

  2. 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.

    • Hi Sam, all tracks at Lake Parramatta Reserve are suitable for teenagers, they are not hard at all. Just keep in mind that the circuit walk is just over 4km long.

  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?

    • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

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