Nurragingy Reserve first came to my attention last year when I wrote an article about Sydney's best water play parks - 'cause Nurragingy has a pretty cool one. During my research I found that there is also a popular kiosk within the reserve, so it's been on my list for a while to review. During the last school holidays we added it to our adventure list and popped on by.
There are a couple of different entrances in to Nurragingy Reserve, so depending on where you live in Sydney you may use a different entrance to what we did. We came in off Knox Rd and drove straight into the parking area for the Lakeside Kiosk. The kiosk overlooks the lake in Nurragingy Reserve, hence it's name. The not particularly flash seating, is typical of what you find at most kiosks in a park (with the possible exception of Centennial Park Kiosk), and it is all outside with some being undercover and the rest being under shade sails. There is loads of room for prams however, so you could definitely meet up with your Mother's Group here and have something to eat and then a walk around the lovely reserve.
The menu for the kiosk is up on the wall and your hip pocket will be happy as it is oh so cheap! You place your order with the really friendly owners at the kiosk's counter and then you are a given a piece of paper with your number on it. When your meal is ready they yell out your number and you go up and collect it. There is a self help station right next to the counter where you can get condiments etc from, if you need them.
The Lakeside Kiosk is famous for its hot diggity dogs. Their signature dawg is the Great American Hot Dog ($6). It's an all pork, quarter pounder dog that apparently comes from Texas and it is low fat and gluten free! My little man is a huge hot dog fan and he went for the Deluxe Hot Dog ($4.50) which is a combination of pork & veal - Mexican and Beef Hot Dogs are also available. Non dawg lovers can choose between a selection of burgers or fish & chips. Burgers range in price from $5 - $7.50 and they include a bacon and egg roll, cheeseburger, vegie burger, beef burger and a chicken schnitzel burger. Or you can have the exotic sounding wild Alaskan salmon burger, which was my choice. The bun was perfectly fresh and inside was a salmon pattie, lettuce, tomato, onion and tartare sauce.
Fish and chips come in two sizes regular ($8) 2 fillets of beer battered flathead fillets & chips; or large ($10) is 3 fillets & chips - this can obviously be easily shared amongst a few people. If you are a bit of a health nut your choices are fairly limited - you can have fish and salad for $9 but your fish will still be deep fried. If your kids won't eat any of the above there are small serves of spring rolls, dim sims or nuggets on the menu and of course hot chippies!
If you are after a sweet treat, there is a full range of ice creams, and some lollies as well as muffins and banana bread. To be honest, the coffee at the Lakeside Kiosk wasn't really to my liking, it lacked flavour, so I'm glad I only ordered a small one for $3.50 (a large is $4.50). In future I'll probably order a hot chockie for $4. Babycinos are available for $2.00 and my 6 year old believes he is "way too old" to drink those any more, so I'm not sure how much value you get for the $2.00. They serve a full range of soft drinks as well as super cheap old fashion milkshakes for $4.
Whilst you are eating your meal, your kidlets can wander around right in front of you, either on the grass or around the lake - BUT please note, there is no fencing which is a little odd, so there is a risk they may have an accidental swim, so don't let little ones stray too far away from your reach. You can also feed the ducks (remember to bring something suitable from home like bird seed - not bread, it hurts their little bellies). Whilst we were eating our lunch, I noticed in the distance an oriental style building so as soon as we finished out lunch we wandered over to check it out.
I most definitely wasn't expecting to find a stunning Chinese Garden in the middle of Doonside, that's for sure! The Chang Lai Yuan Chinese Garden really is amazing and a great spot to take photos. Nurragingy Reserve is actually a very popular spot for weddings (there is a function centre on site) and after seeing the seven arch stone bridge I can understand why - the perfect back drop for wedding photos! (Just a word of advice from a former bridezilla - have your wedding here in spring or autumn, in winter all the leaves are off the trees and some of the gardens look a bit dead; and in summer it would be just too darn hot out here).
As we kept wandering around we came across different themed gardens and also 4 separate and different playgrounds! I loved that all the playgrounds are in different areas of Nurragingy Reserve and I also love that there are loos not too far away from each playground. There are loads of picnic shelters and BBQ areas dotted throughout the reserve. You can also drive through most of the reserve if you're feeling real lazy or it is a great spot to ride through on push bikes. You may need to be a little careful, as there were some 'P' plate hooners on the day we visited.
It doesn't take very long to walk around the whole reserve, so it makes for a great family walk and most prams/strollers should be able to handle the flat terrain. Just remember to factor in time for the obligatory playground inspection that the little people in your life will do doubt want to conduct. And if you visit in the warmer months pack the cossies, sunscreen and towels as the splash park looks like loads of fun!
My little mate got the poos when he found out he couldn't strip off and get wet and wild in the splash park, so he took off in a bit of a huff. He has a good sense of direction although, as he found his way easily back to the kiosk and demanded ice cream as compensation!
Have you been to Nurragingy Reserve Little Munchers - were you as impressed with the Chinese Garden as I was?
40 Knox Rd Doonside, NSW 2767
Open 7 days 11am - 4pm