I am always looking out for new experiences, wherever I may find myself.
Published December 15th 2014
Family barbecues are a great tradition and the Northern Suburbs has quite a few choices. The following three are the ones I consider to be the pick of them all; each option is quite big, has a huge range of facilities and fun things to do, and feels like an escape from the rest of Sydney. Two of them are even (largely) free.
Fagan Park This option stands out from the others due to its rural location in Galston. It consists of a huge, hilly 55 hectare space that has great facilities and even though it draws people from quite distance away, its size means it rarely feels crowded. I've even visited when it's been empty (at dusk on a school day).
Family barbecues are a must here and there is plenty of open space for games (cricket and kite-flying are popular). Playgrounds are located just inside each of the two entrances and you can't leave without checking out the eleven themed gardens, which reflect different countries and cultures from around the world. Ponds and lakes offer some picturesque settings and events like weddings are regularly held at the park.
Location: Arcadia Road, Galston Price: Parking costs $5.00, but parking just outside on the street is easy and means you can visit for free
Standing on the steps of the Mediterranean Garden and looking out over the lake (unfortunately on an overcast day)
Another big space, Crosslands, is located in Hornsby Heights, along the side of Berowra Creek. It's all about family events and not just for single days, but for overnight camping too (Scouts groups seem to regularly use it). , so some days.
There are two different ends to visit but one has significantly more facilities for a picnic, like play equipment and BBQs. Getting a table or barbecue can be competitive wherever you go too. But Hornsby Council has spent money utilising the space and there's plenty of bushwalks, including Saltmarsh Boardwalk and Place of Winds Interpretive Trail, both part of the Great North Walk. The river itself provides entertainment too, whether it be feeding the ducks from the platforms erected, having a fish or getting out on a kayak.
Also boasting a scenic waterside location, Bobbin Head lies next to the much larger Cowan Creek, as well as Cockle Creek, and is surrounded by Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The waterway is the star here and the various sections of the reserve all sit next to some part of it. Due to the size of the place, you'll need to pick the area that best suits you and drive there, because the walk around it isn't as manageable as at the other locations.
Bobbin Head has everything the other two venues I have listed offer (with the exception of those themed gardens, which are pretty unique) as well as extra attractions. At one end, you will find the main picnic area, with an enclosed play area (the road loops around it). There are BBQs, tables, boardwalks, even a marina, as well as the Bobbin Inn cafe. Hiring paddleboats is a fun possibilities, or you might have your own boat moored here.
The other end on Bobbin, Apple Tree Bay, is most commonly used for fishing and launching boats. However, it it still has picnic facilities and bushwalks (and gets less busy, as Bobbin Head gets packed).
Location: Enter from Mount Colah or North Turramurra Price: $11 per vehicle