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Picnic your way ‘round Australia
Yes, it’s a bit old-fashioned, but there’s nothing quite like a fresh air chow down surrounded by nature to recharge the batteries. Here’s a rundown of some lovely spots around Australia where you can assemble the basket, drag out the blanket and revel in the indulgent simplicity that a successful stop-over in ‘Picnic Town’ offers.
Watching the petrol gauge? Stay local with a visit to New Farm Park in Brisbane where you’ll find 15 hectares of soft-on-the-bum grass and pretty views of the Brisbane River, or head to Queens Park in Ipswich and check out the Ipswich Nature Centre (think bilbies, wombats and other adorable native creatures) while you’re there.
If you’re after a bit of crisp mountain air, Boombana near Mt Glorious (fitting name) has stunning national park outlooks and tracks perfect for walking off the over-kill of snacks, Springbrook National Park in the Gold Coast Hinterland delights with a waterfall or two, and Kondalilla Falls in Montville’s hinterlands offers a refreshing waterhole frolick post-pig-out.
Picnic Point (how cute) in Toowoomba has awesome views of the Lockyer Valley (and is a bit cooler on sweltering summer days), Gus Beutel Lookout in Ravensbourne National Park serves up inspiring Scenic Rim views, and Quart Pot Creek in Stanthorpe’s winery region is the perfect spot to pick up a local vino to sample with your cheese platter.
Further north, Eungella National Park in Mackay is an ideal ‘bush picnic’ location (keep your eye out for the platypuses in Broken River), and if you’re in the Whitsundays area, don’t miss Cedar Creek Falls where you can partake in a bit of rock hopping beneath the waterfall in its freshwater lagoon.
Beach bums in Queensland should check out Bulcock Beach in Caloundra (hello fish ‘n’ chip feast), Carlo Sandblow in Rainbow Beach for views of the cra-cra local hang gliders, and Point Lookout on Stradbroke Island for a chance spotting of a migrating humpback whale.
New South Wales
For tourist-lovin’ views of The Bridge, The Harbour and The Opera House, pack the car and cruise on over to Bradley’s Head Amphitheatre on the lower north shore in Sydney, plan a Palm Beach day trip to slot in a salty swim, or visit Angourie Bay on the North Coast, where you’ll find not-too-shabby photo ops of the Angourie Headland.
If you’re central coast bound, stop in at Bateau Bay Beach to undertake a satisfying spot of rock pool exploration, and for a continuous foreshore that offers surfing and fishing opportunities, take a leisurely drive to Narrawallee Beach on the south coast.
For a leafier experience (and a possible hunger-inducing bushwalk), nab a spot at the Apple Tree picnic area in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, discover the delights of the Cattai National Park on the Hawkesbury River, or enjoy a leisurely Sunday drive and some sunbeam action at the Royal National Park, where you can swim in the tranquil waters of the Cabbage Tree Basin or hire a canoe and explore the Port Hacking waterways.
After more action to help the digestion? The Georges River National Park and Mirambeena Regional Park in Bankstown offer around 350 open-air spaces, with the opportunity to hire a boat (and fish for a bream dinner) or try your hand at waterskiing on the Georges River.
If you’re looking to stay local, check out the Edinburgh Gardens in Fitzroy North where you can get a little competitive at the Bowls Club, skip along to the old Alphington Swimming Pool site in Fairfield for some vintage rowboat action, get all Downton Abbey-like at the Rippon Lea House and Gardens (croquet anyone?), or enjoy some lunchtime zen in the Japanese gardens at Ardrie Park in Malvern East.
If you’re off to the Yarra Valley for the day, the 28-hectare Lillydale Lake has lots of lovely jetties perfect for a fish, the Badger Weir Picnic Grounds present the chance to spot a local King Parrot or two (if you’re a bird nerd that is), and the Upper Yarra Reservoir Park is a prime place to get lost (in a good way) among the sprawling lushness of its eucalyptus forests.
The Daylesford and Hepburn Springs areas are brimming with pretty picnic spots, including Lake Daylesford (great for fishing), Jubilee Lake (hire a canoe), Central Springs Reserve (take the ‘Peace Mile’ walk around the lake), and the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve, with its yep, you guessed it, bubbling mineral springs.
Coastal-wise near Lorne, the Sheoak Picnic Ground and Blanket Leaf Picnic Area both offer spectacular waterfall action, and for a selfie with a 300-year-old-tree (daggy but Instagrammable), head to Melba Gully, a divine spot surrounded by old-growth rainforest.
Elder Park in the northern suburbs has a river, swans and paddle boats (the ideal opportunity for a sneaky pash with your current crush), Fremont Park comes complete with a large lake and a fountain, Jo Gapper Park in Hillbank is ideal if the furbaby’s along for the ride (it’s got a great dog park), and the River Torrens Linear Trail in Walkerville is a must for those itching to hike up a sweat after lunch.
Heading south, the Willunga Recreation Reserve is a sweetly smelling option (it’s home to around 700 rose bushes), or if you prefer a side of boogie boarding with your picnicking, check out Port Willunga Beach, one of SA’s most popular coastal stretches and a great spot for cave exploration as well.
Get all Notebook-like with a row on Rymill Park’s lake (ducks included), or veer west to Henley Square if you’re OK with a bit of sand action with your sandwiches.
Further out, Belair National Park offers a spot of tennis or a horse ride with your cheese and crackers, and for serious adventurers preferring a backpack lunch, make your way to Morialta Conservation Park in Woodforde and hike your way through a network of trails dotted with the odd waterfall.
Kings Park in the inner city features extensive lawns and a man-made lake connected to a cascading stream, and Fraser Avenue Park within it is a lovely dinnertime picnic option, which will allow you to feast on your fabulous home-made delights while watching thousands of twinkling city lights reflecting off the river.
The northerly-situated Herdsman Lakes has a variety of environments for blanket lounging including in woodlands and wetlands (keep an eye out for the long-neck tortoises), Noble Park and its terraced pools are ideal for a bush paddle, and Rocky Pool in John Forrest National Park offers you the perfect made-by-nature picnic table (look for the big, flat rock near the edge of Jane Brooke).
Point Walter down south dares you to try a bit of cliff jumping into the waters of Blackwall Reach, Serpentine Falls is great for a post-meal bathe and if you’re headed west, consider Matilda Bay (for a swim in the Swan River), or Chidley Point Reserve where you can laze about on the expansiveness of its sandy, white beach.
First off, let’s get local with a visit to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens in Hobart. Ideal for the quieter picnicker (and old souls among us), it features luscious lawns, a tinkling water feature and the oldest operating carousel in the world.
North-west you’ll find the tumbling banks of the Clyde River in Hamilton with its beautiful views of Mt Field’s peaks, and north of Hobart lies Lake Dulverton with 223 hectares of ‘Big Lagoon’ and the Ross River, which many outdoor-loving Hobartians profess to be their favourite weekend haunt.
Prepared to road trip it for the perfect picnic spot? Tassie undoubtedly has some of the most breathtaking rug-reclining spots in the world. On the north-eastern side of the island is the unforgettable Bay of Fires, where azure seas contrast starkly with rows upon rows of lichen covered boulders (orange in colour, hence the name of the place).
Freycinet National Park is a dizzying combination of sheer sea cliffs, perfectly blue waters and divine views from Wineglass Bay, and finally, Cradle Mountain. Arguably the most popular wilderness area in the state, it’s a prime spot for a day-tripping bushwalk through impressive mountain ranges, with an outdoor feed beside a tumbling waterfall finishing off a super-active day.
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