It always helps to know your Sydney playgrounds. Our little man is a bundle of energy who always needs to burn some of it off. So we always go prepared, with an idea of which Sydney parks are close by in case he needs a run. We’ve been taking him to Sydney since he was a toddler, and he’s recently turned four years old. Here’s our lowdown on the best playgrounds in Sydney. They’re all fully endorsed by the Little Man himself.

 

Thornton Park, Balmain

 

Image of child exploring Thornton Park, Balmain, Sydney

The Little Man exploring Thornton Park, Balmain

Thornton Park has a perfect setting – Harbour Bridge and city views, right next to Balmain East ferry wharf.  It’s also one of the best picnic spots in Sydney, with benches, picnic tables and the incomparable views. The shade increases during the afternoon.

 

Rushcutters Bay Playground

 

Image of Rushcutters Bay playground, Sydney

The lovely harbourside Rushcutters Bay playground

This is a great enclosed playground in the corner of Rushcutters Bay Park. Our little fellow kept going for the best part of three hours, generating energy with food from the kiosk next door and then burning it all off. Most of it is geared towards younger kids, and the carved seahorses are a lovely touch. Great views of the boats and harbour round off the scene.

 

Camperdown Memorial Rest Park and Playground, Newtown

 

Image of child playing at Camperdown Memorial Playground in Newtown, Sydney

One of the little fellow’s favourites, Camperdown Memorial Playground in Newtown

We found this great enclosed playground because we wanted to visit a few places in Newtown, and the little fellow had a great time. It’s a few minutes’ walk from King Street, the heart of Newtown. All the surrounding buildings are covered in street art, making a great backdrop for photos. Camperdown Cemetery is very close by, as are several cafes. One of the best parks in Sydney in our book.

 

Darling Harbour Children’s Playground

 

Image of child on slide at Darling Harbour Children's Playground, Sydney

Sam on the slippery dip at Darling Harbour

This is probably the best known Sydney playground because of its location next to Darling Harbour. We first visited when our little man had just turned two, and he was mostly interested in the historic carousel next door. Two years on, he has grown into it. He’s now a very adept climber, so loves the huge rope climbing frame and flying fox. The water play area is great too, especially in summer.

 

Foundation Park, The Rocks

 

Image of child at Foundation Park in The Rocks, Sydney

Interactive history, climbing, hide and seek – all at Foundation Park in The Rocks, Sydney

Foundation Park isn’t a playground in the conventional sense. It’s the most unusual Sydney park –  an interactive history lesson, with climbing, exploration and hide-and-seek thrown in. It’s tiny, hidden behind an unmarked doorway on Playfair Street. From here, follow the steps to the left of the rock face. You eventually come to the foundations of several very small 19th century houses. They are ‘furnished’ with artworks including a blank grandfather clock and an oversized table. These serve to emphasise the cramped space and add a touch of humanity to the place. Our little fellow adored it, staying well over an hour.

 

Robertson Park, Watsons Bay

 

Image of Robertsons Park in Watsons Bay, Sydney

Robertsons Park in Watsons Bay has a great view back to the city

Robertson Park is one of the most beautiful parks in Sydney. It’s just back from Watsons Bay ferry wharf, and the playground is in a mainly shaded spot a minute’s walk from there. It’s got everything else you could want for a fun few hours out as well.  You can pick up some of the best fish and chips in Sydney from Doyles takeaway next to the ferry wharf. There’s also the beach and views back to the city, which are best at sunset in summer.

 

Nielsen Park, Vaucluse

 

Image of Shark Beach, Nielsen Park, Sydney Harbour

Shark Beach, the jewel of Nielsen Park

There’s no playground in Nielsen Park, but where better to play than one of the best beaches in Sydney Harbour? Shark Beach is gorgeous, a north-facing sun-trap beach that’s a great spot for building sandcastles or, in our son’s case, burying your father in the sand. There is plenty of picnic space, and a great café and takeaway if you haven’t brought your own food. Nielsen Park is also the starting point for one of the best walks in Sydney, the Hermitage Foreshore Walk to Rose Bay.

David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing the world for over 25 years.  His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.  His images are frequently used throughout the world by tourism bodies such as Visit Britain and Visit Wales.