When they’ve had enough sightseeing, take the family to this beautiful, safe and little known beach for kids, a top place for adults too. There’s
- lots of white sand,
- both sun and shade,
- a children’s playground,
- lawns to picnic on,
- interesting places to stroll to or around.
For great family vacation ideas it’s hard to go past one of the safest and least crowded beaches in urban Australia: Parsley Bay in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. It’s not even widely known among Sydneysiders, let alone visitors. Yet it’s gorgeous and it’s quite easy to get to.
A Good Beach for Kids
You’ll find a long, shallow stretch which is very calm – it’s not a surf beach – so it’s an ideal place to go with toddlers and young children who are not too confident in deeper or wilder seas.
The photo shows it at low tide. When the tide is in, about half the sand gets covered by a few centimetres – two or three inches – of water, perfect for paddling toddlers.
For better swimmers, older kids and adults there is a place to swim further out, deeper but still very sheltered. From September to June a shark proof net separates the whole swimming spot from the harbour. It’s removed for a few months each winter to facilitate flushing of the bay.
Boats are moored outside the net. There’s a jetty there that’s good place to fish from. And there’s a very cute suspension footbridge from one side to the other. The bridge is the defining icon of Parsley Bay. It spans the swimming area and is accessible from both beach and road.
The bridge, the shallows and the playground make this a great Sydney Australia place to go with kids. Eat at the outdoor picnic tables or on the lawn. Explore the bush walks. They’re interesting for adults as well.
Easy Bush Walks
There are easy bush walks from the picnic area and information boards are dotted around to explain what you might be seeing. A top place to go with kids is the Water Dragon walk.
This will take you through the Reserve behind the beach. Around the creek, from mid-spring until mid-autumn, you might see Eastern Water Dragons (Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii).
These are grey-brown lizards, which can grow up to 80 cm in length.
They have a row of spines from the crest of their heads to their tails and males may have a red belly and chest. They are quite common in parts of Sydney Australia.
Although they’re rather timid – so you need to be quiet – they’re not really scared of people and you’ll most likely get to see them quite close.
There is a kiosk but it hardly ever seems to be open, so you’d be wise to bring your own picnic. You can refill your drink bottles at the beach. Sydney tap water is quite safe to drink and tastes fine.
Bus Number 325 to Watsons Bay starts from Circular Quay and goes through Kings Cross, Edgecliff, Double Bay and Rose Bay to get you to your stop in Vaucluse. Ask the driver to let you out at Fitzwilliam Road, near Parsley Road.
The lane to the beach via the swing bridge is directly next to the garage at 43A Fitzwilliam Road.
If you have trouble finding the sign, just walk down Parsley Road, immediately in front of the bus stop. This will put you in the park at the children’s playground. It’s more fun to approach it via the bridge though.
Nielson Park is on the same Sydney bus line. It’s another great place to go with kids but it’s a lot busier than Parsley Bay. It does have good tea rooms where you can also buy icecreams, drinks and food to take away. There are views over the harbour back to the bridge.
If you travel to the very last stop you’ll be in Watsons Bay. It has beach, pool and park but not put together quite as congenially for young children. It also has a very large beer garden and various seafood restaurant/bbq/takeout venues, today all owned by Sydney’s Doyle family. Great sunset views.
More Eastern Suburbs Beaches
The classic two are Bondi and Bronte. But Clovelly beach is also lovely with children and Coogee, the next one along, is another good family beach. Maroubra, further down the coast, is better for older children and surfers.