Four ways to enjoy Centennial Park

Centennial Park is one of Sydney’s most historic parklands, dating back more than 130 years. Today, it still offers hectares of greenery with children’s playgrounds, dedicated cycleways, places to eat, and a plethora of open-air spaces.

Destination NSW

Destination NSW

Sep 27 -
4
min read

Known as ‘the lungs of the city’, Centennial Park began life as a swamp but is now one of Australia’s beloved parklands, bursting with history and stories. Located in the heart of the inner city, it’s a breath of fresh air. Designed in the classic Victorian style, you’ll still find many nods to its roots in the 1800s with lush, manicured gardens set around spaces for relaxation, training, play and entertainment.

Here are four ways to experience this vibrant green space.

Family enjoying a visit to The Ian Potter Children's Wild Play Garden in Centennial Park, Sydney

The Ian Potter Children's Wild Play Garden, Centennial Park

A day with the family

It may be called the children’s garden, but The Ian Potter Children’s WILD PLAY garden is an immersive nature-play experience for adults and kids alike. Get lost in the heart of the park amongst the bamboo forest or let the kids fulfill their treetop dreams climbing to the top and sliding down towards a tumble of greenery, tunnels, and turtle mounds to explore. There’s no other space like it in NSW and this state-of-the art environment allows kids to reconnect to nature and engage with the purposefully designed garden.

Picnics in Centennial Parklands - Sydney

Best picnic locations, Centennial Park 

If you want to take advantage of the park’s shared cycleways, try hiring one of their pedal cars from Centennial Park Cycles. Pedal your family along the Grand Drive cycle lane sheltered under those yellow canopies as you enjoy the fresh air, passing open green spaces and dazzling ponds.

Family enjoying a day out at Centennial Park in a hired 4-seat pedal car from Centennial Park Cycles

Centennial Park Cycles, Centennial Park
 

Many visitors will enter the park to enjoy the beautiful vistas and it's easily one of the best picnic spots. Pack some lunch for the family and choose your spot within this sprawling park. With picnic tables and benches to whether you prefer to lounge under the sun or under the cool shade of one of the pine or fig trees, there’s bound to be a spot to enjoy a picnic amongst the picturesque environment and wildlife.

Resident ducks waddling across the lawns in Centennial Parklands

Centennial Parklands, Moore Park

If you like to get active

Sydneysiders love to exercise outdoors and the park’s 190 hectares offer plenty of space for a range of physical activities. Explore the parks native flora and aromatic garden beds as you walk or jog through the grassy areas. You’re bound to pass endearing reminders of what the park once was from heritage buildings and structures like the Lily Pond Bridge that are dotted around telling the rich history and story of the parkland. Being one of the most dog-friendly parks in Sydney, means you can enjoy all this with your best friend almost half of the park is designated for off-leash exploring. For something longer, consider the Circular Quay to Clovelly, which includes a section through this charming space and into the Eastern Suburbs.

Woman enjoying a horse riding experience with East Side Riding Academy in Centennial Park, Sydney.

East Side Riding Academy, Centennial Park

Experience the lush foliage from up high on horseback. Centennial Parklands Equestrian Centre is minutes from the Sydney CBD offering a unique experience with inner-city horse riding and is one of the few places in the world to do so. Take lessons or do an hour park ride with accredited instructors. If you’re a beginner or experienced rider, it’s a must do to enjoy the lush beauty of nature.

Family enjoying a day out at Centennial Park in a hired 4-seat pedal car from Centennial Park Cycles

Centennial Park Cycles, Centennial Park

If you prefer a different kind of ride, the park has shared paths and cycleways that attract more than 750,000 riders a year. Whether you’re an experienced or beginner rider there’s plenty of room, ensuring the safety for all. Take a leisurely cycle round the expansive parklands or ride off towards City of Sydney’s or Eastern suburbs cycleways network. If you don’t have a bike, Centennial Park Cycles has you covered, being one of Sydney’s biggest bicycle hire facility. Alternatively, head to Skater HQ in Moore Park to hire some blades and roller blade around.

 

Eat, drink & watch

If bringing a picnic is not your thing, Centennial Homestead offers a range of restaurants and cafes. The Kitchen is a casual dining spot with floor to ceiling windows/doors that allow for alfresco-like dining all year round. Sir down to a hot breakfast of fluffy pancakes or a truffle and prosciutto scramble, and if you’re indecisive about lunch, settle in for the Homestead Feast. It features either a 12-hour braised lamb shoulder or whole market fish, charcuterie board to a decadent chocolate fondant.

Head Chef Diego Rosales at Centennial Homestead in Moore Park, Sydney East

Centennial Homestead, Sydney East

Relish in the aromas of fresh coffee and pastries at The Pantry. Grab and go options are available so you can savor a hot drink and pastry as you stroll through the lush foliage and go about your day. Their take-away freshly made salads and sandwiches are a great choice or their picnic box to take and set up at one of the scenic picnic spots.

Middle Eastern-inspired lunches and Sonoma pastries are served at The Greenhouse Cafe. Sheltered outdoor and indoor tables allows for constant green, sunlit views no matter where you’re placed. Takeaway is also an option and, for an afternoon treat, try their smooth, creamy gelato.

Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Parklands, Sydney

Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Parklands, Sydney

During the summer months, the amphitheatre close to the Woollhara Gates is transformed into Moonlight Cinema. Bring a blanket or hire a bean bag and settle in to watch the latest blockbusters or classic films as the sun sets over the park.

 

Uncover history & heritage

Learn more about how the parkland came to be through the History Walking Tour App, that guides you through The People’s Park. With more than 130 years of fascinating and quirky stories to tell, the app features audio commentary and historic footage so you can create your own self-guided walk. You’ll learn about some of the characters who made the park possible and the special sites tucked away among the trees.

When it opened, Centennial Park featured 31 statues in line with the European Picturesque garden style. Most of these have been lost, however there are a few still to discover. From the recently restored Charles Dickens, which is one of just three life size statues of him in the world, to the Hand Upon Hand sculpture that explores the notion of Federation and multiculturalism in Australia, each piece represents a part of the park’s rich history.

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