In a city where housing jostles one another for available space, it is always a surprise to find Sydney parks and picnic areas -- and 120 hectares of lakes -- right in the centre of residential districts.
These are the Chipping Norton Lakes, comprising Chipping Norton Lake and the smaller Lake Moore, not too far off the Hume Highway in Fairfield and Liverpool and just about an hour away from the heart of Sydney.
Not many know of these parks and picnic areas, and the Chipping Norton Lakes are very much Sydney's secret lakes.
In the mid-1970s the land around the lakes was devastated land, pitted and wasted by more than two decades of sand mining.
Shocked by the horror of man's inhumanity to nature, the New South Wales Government set up a Chipping Norton Lake Authority which then began sprucing up land around the inland waters and creating attractive lakes and parklands.
Today these Sydney parks, picnic areas, lakes and lakeside grounds are part of 300 hectares of land and water where native flora and fauna exist side by side with the people who use the parks.
On the shore of Lake Moore, on the Liverpool side, off Newbridge Rd, is a wildlife refuge where 50 native and exotic birds can live and nest among the reedbeds and casuarina forests. Bulba-Gong Island on the Fairfield side of the main Chipping Norton Lake is, as well, a wildlife refuge.
But anywhere on the shores of the Chipping Norton Lakes one is able to find purple swamphens, plumed egrets, sacred ibises, and many other species of Australian native and exotic birds. Uniquely Australian flora, such as eucalypts and wattles, grow in the park.
So while the Chipping Norton Lakes provide a haven for flora and fauna, they are a great place for human activity as well.
Bike Tracks, and Sports Fields
On the shores of the Chipping Norton Lakes are walking and bicycle tracks; sports fields for football, cricket, baseball; piers and jetties for the larger boats; ramps for the smaller boats and kayaks; and vast foreshore areas for those who love to fish.
- DON'T EAT THE FISH. Unfortunately, because of unchecked and polluted run-off from the upper reaches of the Georges River, the Fisheries people says fish from the Chipping Norton Lakes should not be eaten.
For those who love the Aussie barbecue, there are grills and hot plates for those cooking bangers, taters, chops, steaks. There are roofed areas where one can shelter from the sun (or rain) and partake, as well, of a tinny or two.
The Chipping Norton Lakes are pretty much unspoiled and can be a great place to laze away the weekend and get away from the hurly-burly of city life.
Driving is the best way to get to the Chipping Norton Lakes, but do check the map.
If new to driving Down Under, don't forget to check out Driving in Australia.
Enter Governor Macquarie Dr off the Hume Highway, just after Warwick Farm Racecourse if coming from Sydney, and turn left at the roundabout.
Turn left into Ascot Rd and right into Charlton Ave.
Park offstreet or in any of the many designated parking areas.
Getting there by public transport
If going by public transport, take the train to Liverpool.
From the Liverpool train station, you can walk across Liverpool Bridge just south of the station and into Newbridge Rd.
Turn left at Bridges Rd to go to Lake Moore. There's an observation tower overlooking the wetlands.
If you want to proceed to the larger picnic areas and playing grounds of Chipping Norton Lakes, take a bus from Liverpool train station to Chipping Norton.
Don't hesitate to ask the driver for help