Swimming and recreation on the Parramatta River
There are currently five places in the Parramatta River where you can swim, including our first success story at Lake Parramatta and the latest swim site at Bayview Park. The recently opened foreshore recreation area at McIlwaine Park with its beach area and discovery rockpools, represents some of the different ways you can enjoy the river, and what’s being planned at other sites in the future.
Daily water quality forecasts for Bayview Park are available through the Our Living River Interactive Map.
The swim site is located next to Bayview Park that includes a playground, fitness station, covered picnic tables, BBQs, and toilets.
The original baths were last open for swimming more than 50 years ago – closing in 1969 due to poor water quality. Sydney Water has worked closely with the City of Canada Bay to conduct water quality and sediment testing at Bayview Park through their RiverWatch™ monitoring program. Data collected over the last few years indicates that the site is once again safe for swimming.
Further enhancements planned for Bayview Park in 2023 include accessible parking, picnic facilities and landscaping.
Cabarita Park beach
Cabarita Park beach is located at the northern end of Cabarita Park. Swimming is permitted except for up to three days after heavy rain. Daily water quality forecasts for Cabarita Park beach are available through the Our Living River Interactive Map.
The beach is backed by beautiful parklands with picnic and BBQ facilities, a playground, public toilets and wheelchair access. There is easy access to Cabarita ferry wharf and buses as well as ticketed parking.
Chiswick Baths is a quiet, local swimming beach located on Bortfield Drive, Chiswick. The site has a netted enclosure and childproof fence, and is accessed via a short set of stairs.
Swimming is permitted except for up to three days after heavy rain. Daily water quality forecasts for Chiswick Baths are available through the Our Living River Interactive Map.
The baths are backed by a small park with a grass area, covered picnic tables and toilets. It’s a great place for a refreshing swim, or to relax and enjoy the scenic views of Parramatta River and Gladesville Bridge.
Dawn Fraser Baths
Dawn Fraser Baths is located in Elkington Park, Balmain. As the oldest pool and swimming club in Australia, this iconic tidal flow saltwater baths offers both a 50m lap swimming area and beach entrance to the water. Amenities include changerooms, accessible bathrooms and a kiosk.
The baths are open from October to April. After heavy rain, the baths may be closed if water quality is not to standard. Daily water quality forecasts for Dawn Fraser Baths are available through the Our Living River Interactive Map.
Lake Parramatta was officially opened for public swimming and water recreational activities in 2015 after being closed for 72 years due to poor water quality.
This popular site features a designated swimming area that is patrolled by lifeguards from late October to late March.
Other amenities include non-motorised boat hire, walking trails, a children’s playground, BBQ and picnic areas, and a visitors’ kiosk that is open on weekends.
Regular water quality testing is conducted by the City of Parramatta, as well as a formal risk assessment by Royal Lifesaving Australia. For more information, visit: cityofparramatta.nsw.gov.au/recreation/swimming-at-lake-parramatta.
McIlwaine Park is located on the picturesque Brays Bay. The site recently underwent an $8.7 million upgrade that features a new accessible foreshore pathway, beach area, BBQ and picnic facilities, and landscaping. The riverbank naturalisation includes discovery rockpools, living seawall tiles, and a saltmarsh conservation area. The project was proudly funded by the NSW Government in association with the City of Canada Bay.
The park is also walking distance to the Kokoda Track Memorial Walkway, which features 22 plaques that describe a significant place or engagement, and lush tropical vegetation that simulates the conditions of The Kokoda Track. For more information, view the Interactive Map.
Bedlam Bay is located at the base of the Parramatta River Regional Park in Gladesville. The area is home to the Bedlam Bay Community Garden and also features scenic foreshore walking paths, boat jetty and hire and sports fields.
In 2020 Hunter’s Hill Council selected the location as a potential swim site on the Parramatta River. Planning is underway to construct the swimming baths and the site is expected to open in 2024. For more information, view the Interactive Map.
Located right on the water, Putney Park features extensive grass and natural areas, BBQ and picnic facilities, several playgrounds and ample parking.
In 2021, City of Ryde built a new seawall and stairs to provide access to the river foreshore and beach area at low tide. Planning is currently underway for the construction of a swimming enclosure. Water quality monitoring is being conducted by Sydney Water’s RiverWatch program, and the site is expected to open in 2024. For more information, view the Interactive Map.
RiverWatch Monitoring Program
Before a new site is opened, routine water quality monitoring is undertaken for more than 12 months. Monitoring results are assessed against the National Health and Medical Research Council Guidelines for Managing Risks in Recreational Water and NSW Water Quality Objectives.
Sydney Water has also worked with industry partners to develop a chemical assessment program, which evaluates how chemical contaminants impact river sediment and water quality to ensure there are no risks to human health. The framework and assessment process is based on the enHealth guidance – Guidelines for assessing human health risks from environmental hazards.
Daily water quality forecasts for existing swimming and recreation sites will be available through Our Living River’s Interactive Map.
RiverWatch is aligned with similar recreational water quality monitoring programs such as NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s Beachwatch monitoring program, which monitors three of the existing swim sites on the Parramatta River: Cabarita Park beach, Chiswick Baths and Dawn Fraser Baths. Water quality at Lake Parramatta is monitored by the City of Parramatta’s comprehensive Water Quality Program.
RiverWatch fact sheets
For more detailed information on the different components of the RiverWatch Monitoring Program, download the following fact sheets:
- Riverwatch Swim Site Activation Fact Sheet
- Riverwatch Water Quality Monitoring Fact Sheet
- RiverWatch Chemical Assessment Fact Sheet
- Riverwatch Predictive Model Fact Sheet
If you would like further information on the Riverwatch Monitoring Program, please email: Riverwatch@sydneywater.com.au.