While the old adage may say “make hay while the sun shines,” we can think of a few better ways to take advantage of a glorious sunshiney day. And top of our list is grabbing some tasty nibbles and cramming the esky full of ice-cold bevvy’s to wile the warm afternoon away with your mates. But rather than simply sauntering along to your local park, why not venture slightly further afield (but not too far!), to some absolute primo picnic spots hiding away right here in our own backyards. Looking for inspo? Not to worry, we’ve rounded up a list of the most picturesque places to party al fresco.
Abbotsford Convent, Melbourne
For an unapologetic hipster hang, it’s hard to go past the gorgeous grounds of the Abbotsford Convent. The complex, with its grand Hunchback of Notre Dame-esque gothic towers and ivy-covered cloisters, has been around since the late 1800s, and has served many purposes over the years. Today, it’s a crafty hub for artists, teachers and community radio broadcasters. Shake out your picnic rug on the gentle slope, amongst the beds of flowers and immense, shady trees. If you forgot to pack snacks, no problemo – the on-site Convent Bakery will satisfy all your pastry and bread needs, or you can help support social enterprise Lentil as Anything with a tasty vegetarian meal.
Jollys Lookout, Mount Nebo, Brisbane
The picnic area at Jollys Lookout could be something out of a painting. Seriously. Beyond the old school wooden tables and benches, past the luscious green grass, is a view that makes you do a double (or even triple) take. Only 40 minutes drive from the city, the quiet spot boasts sweeping views over Enoggera Forest Reserve to the Glasshouse Mountains with Moreton Bay glimmering in the distance. If you’re keen to earn your cold one and cheese platter (and no judgment from us if you don’t!), there’s also a pretty 4km walk each way from Jollys Lookout along the Thylogale track, winding through lush rainforest to the background music of birdsong.
Matilda Bay Reserve, Perth
Pack a basket for two, and make tracks to Matilda Bay Reserve, Crawley for a romantic picnic place like no other. What’s the X-factor, you ask? Bottlenose dolphins. That’s right, there are about 20 of the gorgeous creatures that call the Swan River home, and if you’re there at the right time, you could catch a glimpse of them frolicking in the water. Even if you don’t, this little sanctuary is prime picnic territory, with plush grass stretching down to the sandy banks, stacks of shade from the vast canopies of the many trees, and a jetty stretching out into the still, shallow water, ideal for some non-committal paddling.
Randalls Bay, Tasmania
This picturesque pocket of Tassie offers not one but two perfect settings for a picnic. Either pretend you’re on the set of Babe as you gaze out at the rolling hills of the Huon Valley dotted with sheep and quaint farm sheds from the gorgeous lookout point and picnic hut, or head down (by car or on-foot via the 2.5 Echo Sugarloaf Nature Trail) to Randalls Bay Beach, a paradisiacal 750m stretch of sand and pristine, calm ocean, without a wave in sight. Tucked away amongst the bushland, you’ll find picnic tables, a barbeque and boat ramp if you fancy a paddle between bevs.
Cremorne Point Reserve, Sydney
Few places scream picnic like Cremorne Point. While it’s a hotspot on New Year's Eve thanks to its panoramic views across the water to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, the rest of the year there’s plenty of space next to the 2.7km-walking track to chuck down your rug on a lovely square of grass and crack open the hummus dip. You’re welcome to bring your pooch as well as your pals, and the cherry on top here is that you can cool off with a dip in the outdoor Maccallum Pool, smack bang on the water’s edge. For a truly scenic trip, we’d recommend getting the ferry from Circular Quay – there ain’t nothing like that sea breeze in your hair.
St Kilda Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
Because most visitors to St Kilda are generally there for the ocean, as a result, the utterly charming 150-year-old Botanic Gardens are often overlooked. But stray from the beach, and you’ll find manicured lawns just begging for a blanket, a giant chessboard, glasshouses, rose gardens, conservatory, and ornamental pond. Make friends with the local ducks and swans as you laze in the sun, crack out the bocce, or take a stroll to meet the gardens’ new resident bees. Grab a takeaway Cheesebox from Milk the Cow to accompany a few brews, and don’t be surprised if hours happily evaporate while at this little oasis.
Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Brisbane
Few vantage points in Brissy are better to watch the sun slowly setting than perched on top of the heritage-listed Kangaroo Point Cliffs. With an expansive view across the shimmering water from the CBD all the way to the imposing mountaintops of the Great Dividing Range in the distance, it’s hard to do little else except sit and gape as the sky colours pink in front of you. Drink in hand, lover cuddled up on the picnic blanket next to you – this spot is crying out as a date location. On the flipside, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are options for rock climbing as well as cycleways nearby, plus gazebos, tables and barbeques all nestled at the bottom of the cliff.
South Head, Sydney
Feel a million miles from civilization while still right in Sydney’s surrounds. Set up camp on top of the sheer cliff escarpments and take in the crazy beautiful outlook across the Tasman Sea. Have a stroll to the cute red and white striped Hornby Lighthouse, before chucking on a stellar playlist, laying down your smorgasbord of snacks, and clinking bottles with your mates. Since it’s a bit further out of the way, there’s a good chance that your only competition for a patch of grass will be the seagulls and plovers – bonus!
Ready and rearing to pack the hamper and tartan blanket?