As the end of lockdown approaches and our love of the humble picnic reaches its triumphant peak, we have taken it upon ourselves to round up some of the lesser known picnic areas you can unfurl your rug on once restrictions ease. Here are six spots to soak up the spring air, munch on cheese and biscuits and enjoy your newfound freedom.
Mount Macedon #onehourout
Untarnished bush land, a bright shimmering lake, and ample space to spread out, Sanatorium Lake is a hidden gem within the Macedon Ranges for picnics, nature walks and wildlife watching. A man-made lake originally constructed for a nearby hospital (which was actually never built), the lake is now shrouded by towering eucalypts and a wet fern gully that gives it a fairytale feel. Thanks to the picnic facilities and public toilets nearby, you could practically stay all day.
Mount Franklin Reserve
Hepburn Springs #onehourout
Fancy picnicking in a volcanic crater? Here’s your chance. Deeply sacred to the traditional owners the Djara Wurrung people, Mount Franklin Reserve is one of the more unique locations to enjoy a day on the green. In spite of it’s proximity to Melbourne, this spot is still off the beaten track and mostly enjoys the company of resident kangaroos and wallabies. If you’re lucky, you may get to meet a few while you enjoy some nibbles.
On the banks of the Kennett River lies this idyllic picnic spot just a stones throw away a rainforest walk, a pristine beachfront and best of all, glow worms! Sit amongst the leafy reserve, drink a kombucha and keep an eye on the eucalypts for koalas in the daytime, and if you’re feeling up for a nighttime adventure, look out for the glow worms on the embankment near the bridge. The perfect day out.
One of the larger picnic spots on this list, Blue Rock Lake is the family’s dream locale. There’s plenty of wide open grassland for the kids to run around, water sport access (we’re talking kayaking, fishing, swimming, boating) and oodles of shady spots to take refuge in and crack open a cold one. If you happen to catch an Australian Bass, you may even be able to cook it up at one of the BBQ’s dotted around the place. Delish.
Find your inner peace at Dunkeld Arboretum, the botanic garden overflowing with giant red gums, birdlife and picturesque viewpoints to settle for a few hours. The arboretum is centred around a pristine lake and features walking trails, a jetty to while away the time and even a labyrinth for walking meditation! We recommend bringing a rug and picnic kit, as there are no tables here just yet.
For the lovers of a salty breeze, Lions Park along Eastern Beach Road could be the ultimate picnic spot. With the ocean in front and parkland all around, good views abound – which we all know make the picnic a whole lot sweeter. The park itself features a playground (with a built-in trampoline!), picnic tables and toilet facilities. Once you’ve finished picnicking, wander through the boardwalks and sand dunes and brave a dip in the ocean.
When Damian Sandercock went to school, he didn’t take a Vegemite sandwich in his lunch box, he had a pork pie. ‘Mum was from Wigan near Manchester and pork pies were a way of life,’ says Damian.
For years the Kyneton chef has been perfecting his range of classic French charcuterie from parfaits to rillettes, carefully hand working his terrines to get the texture balanced between smooth and rustic.
‘I realised that all those classic dishes are the food of the French working class, making something delicious from humble beginnings, the same as the English pork pie. It is food that is delicious and perfect for our new focus on outdoor eating,’ he says. ‘Pies and parfait are perfect picnic fare.’
Damian is an all or nothing sort of bloke and goes as far as rendering the lard to make the pastry for his pies. These are hand formed and packed with spiced, coarsely minced pork and sealed with aspic.
His traditional English pork pies have been joined by a new range that includes flavours like jalapeno, apple, sage and mustard, chorizo and now kimchi. They sound novel but Damian has created recipes that have balanced flavours that work with the pork and the pastry.
A mate makes the kimchi for us. The flavours of fish sauce, garlic, ginger and chili, plus the crunch of the veg, works for even most traditional pork pie lovers.
The flavoured range is not topped with aspic and can be heated. The pies have been complemented with a range of pickles that include an authentic English style piccalilli made with cauliflower with mustard seed and turmeric.
Piper Street Food Co.’s pies, terrines, preserves and charcuterie are available from the Kyneton store or are delivered monthly around Melbourne and North and Eastern Victoria.
In what may seem a little mysterious – or perhaps even a little spooky to some – on Saturday 22nd May, Ballarat is hosting a one-day outdoor picnic event the city hasn’t seen since the 1800s.
The Cemetery National Picnic Day, located at the Ballarat New Cemetery, is inviting folks to experience anew what those in the 19th Century thought was a jolly good time; a lovely day in the sun reconnecting with loved ones who had passed away, surrounded by picturesque cemetery grounds.
There will be live music performances, a small market to peruse around, picnic hampers catering to most dietaries, a treasure hunt, tombstone rubbing, and even a horse-drawn carriage ride to get you feeling really antiquated. For those looking for something prim and proper, high tea at The Gatehouse Ballarat is just a short walk away.
While you’re there, why not pop in on one of the historic tours across the day, covering subjects like the history of Ballarat New Cemetery, the World War I veterans who hailed from the city, the history of cremation in Victoria, and Ballarat’s rich Chinese heritage dating back over seven generations.
We can’t think of a better way to demystify death and the burial process than to enjoy the grounds and learn about its history.
THE DETAILS WHAT: Cemetery National Picnic Day WHERE: Ballarat New Cemetery, 1250 Doveton St N, Ballarat Central WHEN: 10am-5pm, Saturday 22nd May 2021 MORE INFO: Ballarat Heritage Festival
Lovers of local produce (and cottagecore), prepare to be delighted. There’s a new fairy tale-esque provedore gracing the bustling township of St Andrews. It’s focus? All the interesting, unique products you won’t find anywhere else.
Perched on top of a grassy slope, overlooking the Queenstown Bushland Reserve, the newly minted St Andrews Collective has swung open its doors to locals and travellers alike, selling produce that’s equal parts delicious and delightful.
The storefront is curated and owned by St Andrews local Nicole Milella whose career in hospitality spans almost a decade. After several months of planning during the lockdown period, Milella has brought together a sumptuous selection of nibbles, dry goods and even handmade and vintage homewares to please even the most selective shopper – all from producers less than thirty minutes away.
Lining the wooden shelves are loose-leaf teas from the Yarra Valley Tea Co, artisan cheese courtesy of Jack Holman at Stone and Crow (vegan cheese included), rich preserves and cordials made by Spurrell Foraging, herbs and spices, olive oils and so much more. Milella has even curated her own cheese boards which can be purchased and happily eaten just outside, in a shady spot on the grass.
If you forgot to bring a picnic blanket, don’t worry, Milella has also got a selection of vintage picnic rugs and baskets for sale. There’s even dried native flowers and hand-thrown pottery ready for the picking if you fancy making a really Insta-worthy spread.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the perfect provedore without some kind of wine involved and this is where St Andrews Collective truly shines. Situated right next door is Punch Room Wines, a killer local cellar door, who have teamed up with the shop to create cheese and wine pairings. Guests can grab a cheese board, walk into the cellar door for a glass of red or white and enjoy everything St Andrews has on offer.
For now, St Andrews Collective is open on Saturdays only, but with tentative plans to open on Sundays as well. Occasional fresh produce courtesy of a local market gardener will be available, as well as unique fresh goods from Spurrell Foraging.
THE DETAILS WHAT: St Andrews Collective WHERE: 10 Scott Street, St Andrews WHEN: Saturdays 9am-3pm MORE INFO:St Andrews Collective
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s the value of a picnic. Friends and family gathered under shady trees, setting up checkered rugs on the grass, sharing snacks and other delicious goodies… Maybe even some music and fairy lights, if you’re feeling fruity.
The Shire of Nillumbik, the home to some of Melbourne’s lushest parklands, are keeping the family-friendly outdoor gathering vibes going with one epic day of picnicking. This Sunday, March 28th, they are hosting The Great Nillumbik Picnic (say that three times fast); a day dedicated to everything we love about the humble picnic, and then some.
WIN A PICNIC FOR YOU AND NINE FRIENDS!
In partnership with Nillumbik Council, we are giving away a fully catered picnic in a location of your choice within the Nillumbik Shire. A professional photographer will also attend to ensure your big day out is captured forever.
Punters – whether local or from further afield – are encouraged to celebrate the amazing parks and open spaces throughout Nillumbik while supporting local businesses hit hard during COVID-19. The idea is simple; pack a picnic rug or a couple of camping chairs, pick up a grazing platter or takeaway pizza from a shop nearby and set up camp in one of the stunning parks within the community.
There are four key parks/outdoor spaces picnickers can choose to set up, with each of them featuring roving entertainers throughout the day and a COVID-safe setup. In Hurstbridge, Wattle Place is the place to be. Plenty of picnic tables and close proximity to Hurstbridge train station as well as restaurants and local cafes make it ideal for those catching public transport.
Diamond Creek Regional Playspace (in, you guessed it, Diamond Creek) is both a child and adults dream location. There are playgrounds, flying foxes, walking trails, an off-leash dog park, barbecues and even a tram café. Ample shaded areas and parking space mean you’ll be picnicking in ultimate comfort.
Eltham has two main hangouts during the day, Eltham North Adventure Playground and Eltham Lower Park. The adventure playground is also home to Edendale Farm where kids can pet an alpaca, while Eltham Lower Park has a miniature railway because why not. You won’t be fighting for space either; these parks have ample space and facilities.
As for the entertainment, the council has pulled together a talented lineup of local musicians and performers who will be popping up between 11:00AM and 5:30PM. There’ll be children’s entertainment to keep the little ones happy, and some acoustic numbers for the grown-ups looking to kick back, relax and enjoy the vibe.
Nillumbik Mayor Peter Perkins says the event will help bring the community together as we find our feet after the pandemic.
We have fantastic public spaces in Nillumbik and our Shire is home to so many talented artists and musicians. These events will give us the opportunity to showcase some great local talent and support the regions businesses as we continue adapting to a COVID normal way of life.
The Great Nillumbik Picnic is a part of a series of outdoor community events the Shire is hosting in March and April. Funded by the Victorian Government and delivered by Nillumbik Shire Council, the Outdoor Dining and Entertainment support package, as it is known, is designed to bring people together while enjoying beautiful outdoor spaces, delicious local produce and fantastic entertainment.
DOWNLOAD NILLUMBIK PICNIC MAP
Discover the huge variety of picnic locations across the region with this printable map. Download here.
Earlier this month the Shire hosted an outdoor movie night and an afternoon of live music at ANZAC Memorial Park. But the fun isn’t all over yet! On Saturday 27 March, Council and Diamond Creek Traders Association will be hosting a free movie night at Rotary Park, Diamond Creek. Kicking off at 4:30PM, the family-friendly event will play Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (Rated G) and then later A Star is Born (Rated M).
If you haven’t ventured to the Shire of Nillumbik before, you’re in for a treat. The vast area, situated on the northern outskirts of Melbourne comprised of Eltham, Diamond Valley and Hurstbridge was named the third most liveable area in Melbourne in 2008. We couldn’t think of a better way to check it out than mingling with the locals under the shade of a eucalyptus.
All events are free and no tickets or registrations are required. All you need to do is BYO best mate or family member – and don’t forget to support local on the day!
THE DETAILS WHAT: The Great Nillumbik Picnic WHERE: Eltham Lower Park, Eltham North Adventure Playground, Diamond Creek Regional Playspace, Wattle Place WHEN: Sunday, 28 March | 11:30AM – 5:30PM MORE INFO: The Great Nillumbik Picnic