by Libby Langtry
Having recently moved back to the area from Sydney’s East, I’m rediscovering some of the wonderful harbour-side spots I knew as a teenager, this time through my son’s eyes. We are regularly out exploring, trying to appease Jacko’s wild demands; changing at the drop of a hat and multiple times during said outing – yes, you guessed it, he’s three!
Berry Island fits seems to fit Jacko’s usually outlandish outing requirements, this time; bushwalking and beach with only an hour to fit it in.
On arrival, two crucial things catch my eye. Firstly, parking is easy. There is only street parking, though rarely busy, so has not been an issue for us to date even on weekends. Secondly, the toilet facilities are right at the entry to the park. Both of these items are crucial when you’ve driven a whole 6 minutes down the hill with a little one who has not yet completed toilet training!
Our first stop is the playground. It has equipment for all age groups including:
- a small slide for the juniors
- a play centre with different height platforms and slides for the toddlers
- ropes and poles stemming from the high platforms for the older or more daring kiddos (yes Jacko has fallen off these… a few times)
Immediately next to the playground, on the west side of the park, there is a little BBQ and picnic area with two picnic benches. Make no mistake, this isn’t the place to host a huge celebration for extended family, but it is sufficient for a family to cook up a low key lunch with some lovely harbour views.
Best of all, if those wild kiddos are not tuckered out yet, there is a fantastic circular bushwalking track around the island headland. This is an easy, short walk and usually takes us 20 mins, depending on stops. There are some great rocks to climb with very little incline (the perfect in length for a 3-year-old) and the track is very well maintained with a lot of great flora. We have not yet seen any local wildlife, though Jacko is convinced there is a resident T-Rex living just off the track, so please exercise appropriate caution until we can confirm this largely unreliable sighting.
Finally, there is a small harbour-side beach on the east side of the reserve that presents a great opportunity to add a swim into a possibly already busy outing. Access is via a hop across some rocks, which depending on the tide may be covered in water. This has been very shallow in my experience, though needs adult supervision at all times. It’s very refreshing spot after a Jurassic-style bush walk, with no waves except the wash from ferries passing quite a way out. The only drawback to this little-hidden gem is that on an off day or after a storm, there can be natural debris washed up on the banks; not dirty, though less enjoyable to put your head under.
All in all, there is a lot packed into little Berry Island Reserve, perfect for a quick visit or spending the whole afternoon. If your kiddos are more patient than mine, it would be an ideal spot for a quiet wine at dusk, chatting away after a hard week at work while the little ones play on the huge grassy area surrounded by water and beautiful bushland, luring you into believing you’re nowhere near the ‘normal’ day-to-day mayhem. Until of course, some horrible person yells “Home & bath time” and the cranky squealing starts. It’s also highly likely the kids are behaving badly too, by this time.
Located at the southern end of Shirley Road, Wollstonecraft, Berry Island Reserve is a 10-minute walk from Wollstonecraft railway station. Limited street parking is available on Shirley Road.
Age range: 3 – 12
Coffee close by: 0
Shade sails: 0.5 no but plenty of mature trees
Bike/scooter track: 0
Noteworthy feature/s: 1 (with a playground, picnic area, bushwalking and a harbour-side beach, it has a bit of everything!)
Can host a party (BBQ, tables, toilets): 1
Gated / safe: 0.5 (the playground is gated)
TOTAL: 3/ 6
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