Bundeena - The Basin at Bonnie Vale
Hidden away in the bushland between Bonnie Vale Beach in Bundeena and the small sea-side town of Maianbar, is a little known ‘local’ spot called The Basin. There isn’t really any beach, just rocks and hard packed earth, but the water is crystal clear and fast flowing, so it makes the perfect swimming hole for teenagers to explore, especially if they have a boogie board to ride the currents under the bridge. This has to be one of the most serene, beautiful places to go for a bushwalk or stop for a dip. The only sounds you’ll hear are the birds calling, the wind through the trees, and the sounds of the kids splashing in the water. For those who would prefer soft, white sandy beaches, you can take a 5 minute stroll back through Bonnie Vale and across the spit (a long stretch of white sand), where you will find stunning little bays, perfect for the younger kids to take a dip. If you aren’t up for a swim, then just cross the bridge and follow the path up the hill and into the town of Maianbar, where you can stop at the local corner shop and grab a coffee, cold drink, ice-cream or a quick lunch. There’s also a small playground near the shops for those kids who still have energy to burn after their walk. NOTE: These spots are NOT monitored by life-guards, so care should always be taken when swimming in unpatrolled areas. Location: Take the walking track at the far end of the camping grounds in Bonnie Vale at Bundeena (at the very far end of Sea Breeze Lane). It’s not signposted, so if you can’t find it, ask around or check with the local Rangers.
Bonnie Vale is part of the Royal National Park, so it requires an entry fee which is payable either at the entrance to the beach, or at the local Service Station on Bundeena Drive. The beach is perfect for little kids as it has no waves, and rarely gets any deeper than mid thigh level. There are surrounding grasslands for a game of cricket, BBQ areas and picnic tables, adequate off-street parking, and a campsite just up the road. Location: Sea Breeze Lane, Bundeena
Caringbah - Camellia Gardens
Located in Caringbah and overlooking Yowie Bay, the EG Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens are a perfect destination for a relaxing meal in the Teahouse, or a picnic lunch in the sun. With two separate play areas (smaller climbing equipment for the younger kids at the bottom end of the gardens, and larger equipment at the top beside the Teahouse), ducks to feed, secret gardens to hide in and off-road parking & BBQ facilities, this is a very popular location for local kids. Keep in mind that the gardens are situated on a steep slope, so some sections are inaccessible to prams or wheelchairs. Access to the upper Gardens and Teahouse is through the carpark on President Avenue and access to the lower gardens and play area is via the Kareena Road entrance. Location: Cnr Kareena Road and President Avenue, Caringbah, Ph: 02 9540 2018. Teahouse Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday: 9.00am – 4pm & Saturday – Sunday: 9.00am – 5pm. Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day & Boxing Day.
Como - Pleasure Grounds
A delightful, newly upgraded playground situated on the waterfront at Como, with panoramic views of the Georges River. This playground is surrounded by picnic grounds, BBQ areas and an extensive bike track which runs the whole way around the park. It contains a boat-shaped climbing frame with slide, infant swings and a large rope climb for older children. With the nearby (and newly opened) Blackfish Cafe/Restaurant, the Marina Cafe and the Thai Rim Nam restaurant and take-away shop, you don’t need to remember to pack that picnic lunch. There is plentiful off-street parking and the nearby Como Swimming Complex is a seasonal aquatic recreational facility which includes a 20m pool. Best of all…the pool is free! Location: Cremona Road, Como
Take advantage of the next sunny day by taking a scenic ride on the Bundeena/Cronulla Ferry service. The 20 minute journey will take you across the waters of Port Hacking River to Bundeena. While here, head to one of the idyllic beaches, explore the surrounding bushland or picnic on the coastline while whale watching. Location: Ferry leaves from Cronulla Wharf and Bundeena Wharf. Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri – 5:30am – 6:30pm (from Cronulla), Sat, Sun & Public Holidays – 8:30am – 6:30pm (from Cronulla) *Please note weekend ferries stop at 5:30pm from Cronulla from June – August **There is no 12:30pm-1pm ferry on weekdays. Contact: (02) 9523 2990
Cronulla - Dunningham Park
A very popular park given its location in the heart of Cronulla. This playground is huge and caters to both younger and older kids. There are infant swings, slides and climbing equipment, as well as nearby cafes, toilets and parking. The park is located right on the edge of Cronulla beach, so bring along the kids’ swimming gear if the weather is warm. Location: Cnr Eloura Road and The Kingsway, Cronulla
Just a short walk from Cronulla train station, this beach runs along 14 acres of land. The long flat beach is a perfect place to walk, paddle and picnic and there is a jetty for older kids to swim to. With a playground in the nearby park for kids to play in, BBQ areas, shade, parking and toilet facilities, this is another very popular beach for the families with very young kids. Location: Nicholson Parade, Cronulla
A hugely popular park, this one has it all. Located on a large reserve with a big bike track, lots of shady trees, infant swings, slides, seating, Liberty Swing, equipment suitable for both younger and older children and BBQ facilities. The park is fully fenced and has off-street parking and toilets. The park was refurbished in August 2012, so the equipment has been cleaned, the bark has been replaced with soft-fall rubber and the mini bike track has been upgraded. Location: 1148 Old Princes Highway, Engadine
Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre is a fantastic arts complex offering exhibitions, art courses and workshops, artist talks and special art events. Set amid beautifully landscaped gardens, it also has an indoor/outdoor cafe for patrons to sit and enjoy the peaceful surrounds. Overlooking Hazelhurst’s parkland gardens, the Gallery Café is the perfect place to relax after a visit to the gallery. The café offers ample seating for up to 120 people as well as being the perfect vantage point for an outdoor performance, to enjoy Sunday breakfast or just to sit with friends and watch the kids play in the surrounding gardens. Location: 782 Kingsway, Gymea NSW 2227. Opening hours: 9.00am-4.00pm, Monday to Sunday. Closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Good Friday Contact: (02) 8536 5755. Location: 782 Kingsway, Gymea 2227
A lovely park with equipment to suit both younger and older children. This playground has parking right out front, is fenced, has swings, slides, climbing equipment, a good sized bike track, gazebos for shelter, picnic tables and toilets. For the more adventurous, a walking track runs through the bushlands at the bottom of the park. Location: 250 Gymea Bay Road, Gymea Bay
This award winning zoo provides a great opportunity for the kids to get up close and personal with a great range of animals. Suitable for all ages there is a host of fun things to keep the family entertained. Feeding and petting animals, swimming in the pool or having lunch in the picnic areas are just some of the things to do here. Location: Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Helensburgh. Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 9:30am – 5pm (except Christmas Day) Contact: (02) 4294 1244
This park is very large and has a lot of great facilities. The park has a climbing frame, swings, BBQ facilities, a sports field, basketball courts and adults training equipment. The kids play area has a large shelter built over the top, so it is ideal on hot summer days or even in the rain. The negative of this park is that it is unfenced, and very large. If the kids wanted to play on the field, you would not be able to see them from the playground. There is also a marsh area nearby, so younger kids would need to be watched to ensure they don’t wander into the water. Location: Captain Cook Drive, Kurnell
Loftus - Browallia Crescent Reserve
Situated in a family-friendly street, this park is surrounded by grasslands, has a small bike track, tables and seats, slides, infant swings and a rope climb. There is also adequate street parking. Located at 24R Browallia Crescent, Loftus.
A unique, privately owned and run museum where kids can actually ride some of the exhibits! One tram ride takes you into the Royal National Park where you can choose to disembark and take a stroll through the Royal National Park while you wait for the next tram. Or you can return to the station and catch a second tram which heads north towards Sutherland. Walks from the trams to the Display Hall are quick and it’s in the halls that kids can move around and view numerous old trams from across Sydney, including the world’s only remaining Prison Trams. With a small kiosk and undercover picnic tables, this is a pleasant location to stop off for a bite of lunch and a chance to take a good look around the old tramway grounds. All day tickets: Adults, $15; Concession and Seniors’ card holders $10; School age children, $8; pre-schoolers are free! With your all-day ticket, there are unlimited rides on the trams, plus entry to the Museum Display Hall. Location: Next door to Loftus train station, or if driving entry is via Rawson Avenue, Loftus
Menai - Parc Menai
A great playground located in a huge park. This one has just been fully renovated by Sutherland Shire Council, so there is lots to do, and it’s all shiny and new! New features include a large climbing net, a climbing frame, junior and senior swings, a junior slide unit, a spinning supernova carousel, a balance unit, a new single rocker, new park furniture and seating, as well as all new landscaping and edging. The existing Liberty Swing received new fencing and repairs to the softfall surface, and the small ‘Daisy swing’ and four way rocker were retained. The park is partially fenced, has a huge bike track perfect for kids trikes and scooters, has toilets, seating, BBQ facilities, a sheltered gazebo, lots of parking and is located right beside a skateboard ramp for the older kids. Location: 158-168 Menai Road, Menai
Another hugely popular park for all ages and one of the biggest playgrounds in The Shire. With a small children’s space containing sand and water play as well as a tiny slide and a play area for larger kids including a rope climb, swings, slides and a flying fox, this park really does have it all. There is a bike track, BBQ areas, grasslands for a ball game, shaded/covered areas, seats, toilets, designated parking spaces and fencing the whole way around the perimeter. The only thing missing is a local cafe for snacks. Location: Karimbla Road, Miranda