About 13km north-west of Sydney’s CBD, near the northern banks of the Parramatta River, Ryde was one of the first areas in the new colony to be settled, in the early 1790s. Governor Arthur Phillip gave it the name "Field of Mars" in reference to the ancient god of war and reflecting the military associations of the eight marines who received the first land grants. By 1841, the new name of Ryde, after Ryde on the Isle of Wight, emerged for the district. Today the City of Ryde supports a population of 98,000.
It is an ideal base for visitors to Sydney, just 12km west of the city and easily accessed by bus, train or Rivercat (ferry). The Rivercat can also take you in the opposite direction along the Parramatta River to historic Parramatta. It's a great (and economical!) way to see the river. Ryde is also handy for events at Olympic Park at Homebush Bay.
Lane Cove National Park protects the banks of the Lane Cove River. The park is a great place for a picnic or a bushwalk. Young children will enjoy the playground and feeding the eager ducks. You can hire a rowing boat and see the park from a new perspective on the water. Visit Kukundi Wildlife Shelter where injured native animals are cared for and rehabilitated. Historic riverboat, "Reliance", departs from the jetty at Fullers Bridge and takes you past mangroves on the lower Lane Cove River.
Ryde has some great parks, including Putney Park, with a giant slide and water play feature, Banjo Paterson Park which includes Rockend Cottage, a childhood home of the poet Banjo Paterson and Field of Mars Reserve, with protected flora and fauna.
Ryde is one of the highest points between the city and the Blue Mountains, and there are several locations offering spectacular views across the Sydney Basin.
Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre hosted Olympic Water Polo events in 2000. Now it has an enormous leisure pool with a wave machine and giant slide, lap pool, program pool and toddlers pool. There is also a state of the art gym.
The Great North Walk passes through Ryde. The entire walk is 250 km long, from Sydney to Newcastle, but if you're not up to that, sections of the walk can be accessed at Buffalo Creek Reserve, Magdala Park and Lane Cove National Park.
It was near Ryde in Eastwood that Maria Smith grew the first Granny Smith apples, and each year the Granny Smith Festival celebrates with a parade, food stalls, entertainment and fireworks.
Granny Smith Festival (October)
Things to do:
Rivercat - cruise to the city or Parramatta
Lane Cove National Park - picnics, bushwalks, playground, duck feeding, hire a rowing boat, Kukundi Wildlife Shelter, historic riverboat
Parks - Putney Park, Banjo Paterson Park, Field of Mars Reserve
Ryde Aquatic Leisure Centre - leisure pool with a wave machine and giant slide
Walking - sections of the Great North Walk