When summer hits with full force, even a bushwalk is too sweltering a caper for active families looking to get outdoors. If your brood is still after some fresh air when the mercury begins to rise, hit the waters of Lake Parramatta Reserve on a canoe and see the beautiful reserve from a watery trail rather than a bush track. The east coast of New South Wales near Sydney has some great canoe hire points like Parramatta to get your paddles going – launch off your rowboat, paddleboat or canoe on a riverine escapade perfect for summer.
The Lake Parramatta Reserve is over 70 hectares in size, its namesake reservoir created when Hunts Creek was dammed in 1856. Public and patrolled swimming (the lake is patrolled by lifeguards between October and March) recently opened after local council efforts to improve signage, add extra BBQs and picnic areas and construct sandstone entrances and concrete platforms into the water. Arrival from just off Bourke Street in North Parramatta will bring you to a playground, kiosk, bushwalking tracks and picnic facilities.
Romantic rowboats, playful paddleboats and kid-friendly kayaks and canoes can be hired onsite without booking beforehand. Paddleboats fitting 2 adults and 2 kids and rowboats holding up to 4 adults are good choices if you want everyone on the one vessel, although with older kids, splitting up into canoes or Stand Up Paddleboards can make for a more adventurous day trip. They can be hired for 2 hours, 4 hours or all day between the times of 10am and 5pm on weekends and holidays. Lifejackets are included in costs and required for rowers or coxswains under 12 years, with the smallest sizes suited to 10kg.
Staying on dry land by the lake is made lovely by three picturesque bush trails encircling segments of the lake. The She-Oak, Banksia and Lake bush trails vary in length and welcome dogs on a lead – the longest trail circumnavigates the full 4.2km of the lake’s perimeter, whereas the short She-Oak track is only 1500 metres return.
Parramatta’s pretty reserve is just one of the many canoe hotspots within easy distance of Sydney CBD. Lane Cove Boatshed sits happily inside lane Cove National Park on the banks of a 4.5km stretch of river that is ideal for paddling and has a plethora of picnic spots at which to pull over for lunch. The second oldest national park in the world after America’s famous Yellowstone, the sprawling Royal National Park south of Sydney houses the Audley Boatshed. Established in 1893, this cornerstone of Kangaroo Creek and Port Hacking River contains aqua bikes, canoes and rowboats.
You might like to read about a weekend getaway canoeing and kayaking at Lake Macquarie.