Albeit with some limitations, picnics are back—and we couldn't be more excited to throw down a rug and pull out our finest plasticware for a spot in the sunshine.
From urban oases to lush national parkland, check out Melbourne's best picnic spots below, just be sure to take note of the seemingly ever-changing restrictions, which as of 11:59pm Friday 17 September will limit you to travelling no further than 10km from your home.
A certified stunner, Carlton Gardens is filled with everything you'd want in a picnic spot, like lush green grass, plenty of trees for shade, a couple of fountains and some of the city's most stunning buildings in its surrounds. Bonus points for the boujee snacks you can pick up from Gertrude Street which is just around the way.
The oft-forgotten sibling to Princes Park and Edinburgh Gardens, Royal Park is just several km’s out of the CBD, though you’d feel you’re much further out of town with its rugged native fauna. There are some BBQs and facilities available here, but this one’s best enjoyed stretched out between some of the gumtrees with that BYO basket you’ve so carefully packed for the day. Keep an eye out for one of the many native White’s skinks that call Royal Park home.
Perched on one of the Yarra River’s dog-leg turns, and home to the Fairfield Boathouse, Fairfield Park is another inner-city spot primed for a picnic. You’ll find enough BBQs for everyone to make use of and plenty of space along the river to while away an afternoon.
One Tree Hill
Upper Ferntree Gully
You’ll find One Tree Hill at the top of Melbourne’s famed 1000 Steps. That sounds like a lot of effort for a picnic ground, but it truly is idyllic up there. Put in the leg work and you’ll be treated to views overlooking the nearby national park as you buddy up with the local wildlife.
If the 1k steps sound daunting, it’s worth keeping in mind that there’s actually only around 770 of them. Regardless of the number, a well-earned bev of your choice should be opened as you take in the view from upstairs.
This one’s a rite of passage for any inner-city dweller. Plenty of flat, grassy patches for your picnic rugs, ample pergolas, playgrounds for the little ones, a basketball court and the infamous Fitzy skate bowl.
If you live on the northside of town, it’s a no-brainer. Expect to see half of Melbourne here on a sunny day.
If you thought Edi Gardens was big, head just a few kms west and you’ll find yourself at Princes Park. Given the space, Princes Park is the preferred spot for activities needing a little room. Frisbee is a good one, but your cricket bat is just as welcome if you’d prefer.
There’s a charming water feature at the north end if you’d prefer to make some distance between yourself and the crowds. Plus, everyone’s favourite apartment turned coffee shop, Capulus & Co is just over the road for your takeaway caffeine needs.
Mosey east out of the city grid and you’ll hit the pristine Fitzroy Gardens within a minute or two. The place is kept immaculately and should be considered when planning any picnic if you live close to the CBD. Check out the series of fountains if you want some showmanship while you’re snacking away, otherwise park up in one of the ornate pergolas.
When all you want is well-kept grass and some space for your carefully-selected mate, Brighton’s Elsternwick Park is the one. You’ll find plenty of takeaway options close by should you need a coffee to perk up after doing nothing but laying in the grass, plus there’s a lake which adds just the right amount of serenity.
Emerald Lake Park
This one's for the suburbanites, under an hour’s drive south-east and you’ll arrive at the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges in a town called Emerald. Emerald Lake Park is a picnicker's dream; you’ve got not one, but two lakes, grassy patches everywhere, plenty of BBQs and even two-seater paddleboats should you be trying to charm that special someone.
As you drive into the park, you’ll see the main lake which acts as somewhat of a tourist trap. So park that car, and b-line east for the secondary lake called Lake Nobelius. The track gets a little muddy, but a few minutes trudging will be well-worth the scenery that you’ll probably have all to yourself.
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Image credit: Visit Vic, Urban List