Blacktown Showground Precinct (Francis Park) is one of our favourite places in Sydney’s west for the family to enjoy the sunshine and burn some energy without spending a cent. It has a dedicated water play area, shaded playground, over 20 picnic tables (most of them under cover), electric BBQs, basketball courts and an outdoor gym, two sporting fields, a community garden and – should you want to buy lunch or need an ice block, juice or coffee after play time – it’s also home to The Grounds Keeper Cafe. All this, with ample parking and a 5 minute walk from Blacktown Station.
We were living one street away when the precinct was under construction and it’s been a joy watching the space transform from a simple athletics field and carpark to a buzzing picnic and play venue that’s enjoyed by hundreds of families all year around. Located on the corner of Balmoral St and Richmond Rd, the precinct also plays host to dozens of fairs and festivals. Even though we now live a short drive away, the playground at Francis Park is Mr 4’s favourite place to visit whenever the sun is out and we have a few hours to kill.
The Blacktown Showground Precinct is open from 7:00am – 6:30pm during Summer, Autumn and Spring, but closes an hour early (5:30pm) in Winter months.
Blacktown Showground Water Park
Every time I see kids at the water park I remember the long summer afternoons I spent running through sprinklers in my neighbour’s back yard. This water park is a garden sprinkler on steroids!
The water park at Blacktown Showground is open 9:00am to 6:30pm in Summer (Dec-Feb), and from 10:00am to 3:30pm in Autumn (Mar-May) and Spring (Sep-Nov). It is closed in Winter (Jun-Aug). Toilet facilities are located just metres away.
The playground was built to cater for kids across age groups – you’ll find slides and swing sets as well as balance beams, a rock climbing sculpture, a flying fox and a giant swing. There is also a cool water play area at the top of the playground near the cafe, where kids pump water and use rubber stoppers to stop and start the flow.
Sports courts and fields
Despite its massive transformation, Francis Park’s history as a sporting and athletics venue hasn’t been completely lost. Its fields still play host to dozens of soccer, football and cricket matches for both formal sporting teams and the spontaneous family or neighbourhood competition. The same can be said for the two basketball and netball courts – a popular place to enjoy the long afternoons during the school holidays.
BBQ and picnic areas
There is rarely a weekend that goes by that we don’t drive past the Showground and see someone hosting a birthday party under one of the 20 pergolas. The precinct has 26 picnic tables across the venue and 6 double barbecues that are free to use on a first-come-first-served basis. There is also plenty of space to lay out a picnic rug, including space near the western/Richmond Road carpark under the trees.
Kiosk and cafe
A trip to the playground or splashing around in the waterpark isn’t quite complete without an ice cream afterwards. The staff who run The Grounds Keeper Cafe also provide ice creams, ice blocks and hot and cold drinks from a kiosk next to the cafe, located at the south-west side of the precinct (you’ll see it’s unmistakable green and black walls from a distance). The cafe’s opening hours are 9:00am to 4:00pm on Mon, Wed-Fri (it is closed on Tuesdays), and 8:00am to 4:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Venue details are correct as at time of writing. For up-to-date information about Blacktown Showground Precinct, head to the Blacktown City Council website.
Do you have a kid-friendly place in your area that you love to visit? I’m always on the look out for places to take Mr 4 and Mr Z – so let me know in the comments below!