Six secluded picnic areas for your post-iso getaway

Words by Tehya Nicholas
Images Supplied

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.

Sanatorium Lake
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.

Check out the facilities here

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.

Click here for more info

Kennett River
Great Ocean Road #twohoursout

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.

Tips for how to get there

Blue Rock Lake
Moe #twohoursout

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 out more here

Dunkeld Arboretum
Dunkeld #threehoursout

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.

Click here for more

Lions Park
Lakes Entrance #threehoursout

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.

More information here

We wish to acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.

Your Guide to the Goulburn River and Ranges

The Goulburn River might not have the PR team of the mighty Murray but as Victoria’s longest river it has long been a part of peoples’ daily lives. It is the region’s lifeline of agriculture, a cultural and historic touchstone as well as a magnet for outdoor activities.

Your road trip offers so many waterways to choose from, including one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, enchanting waterfalls and secluded fishing spots. No matter the season, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking scenery, pretty little towns and down to earth hospitality as you wind your way through this special part of central Victoria – all within a short, easy drive out of Melbourne.

Here’s an itinerary to get you started.

Goulburn River & Ranges Road Trip

Words by Amanda Kennedy
Images supplied

Central Victoria was sometimes seen as a drive-through rather than a drive-to area; a place where you’d stop to use the restroom facilities, grab a coffee or fuel up the car.  Our Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip proves otherwise.

Goulburn Rover Things to DoIt is a place that is filled with a rich history, both recent and more ancient. A place of sweeping landscapes, enchanting waterways and stunning scenic drives, all within an easy drive out of Melbourne.

Head north-east from Melbourne firstly to Marysville and Eildon then on to Yea.  From Yea it’s over to Trawool and Tallarook before heading north to Seymour, Avenel then Nagambie and finally arriving at Euroa.


EuroaOn the edge of the Yarra Valley is the (in)famous Black Spur Drive. Marvel as the road twists and turns beneath towering eucalypts and movie-worthy mist. Soon enough you arrive in Marysville, a pretty little town with a big heart. It is also a convenient jumping-off point to visit Lake Mountain, with plenty for adventure seekers no matter the time of year.

If you want to stretch the legs a little further, Steavenson Falls (Victoria’s tallest with a drop of 84m) is just the ticket. Be well-rewarded for an easy 250m walk from the carpark with sensational views of one of the region’s most iconic waterfalls.


Lake EildonNext up is the town of Eildon and one of Victoria’s largest man-made lakes, with a whopping 500km coastline. Lake Eildon was created in the 1950s with the damming of the Goulburn River for supply of drinking water, hydro-electricity generation and irrigation.

Naturally this makes it a popular spot for all the water recreational activities you can think of: boating, fishing, kayaking, waterskiing, sailing and house boat hire. It’s also an ideal place to just kick back and watch the changing reflections of the clouds and hills on the water.


Yea WetlandsOur next stop is Yea – yay! A perennially popular stopping-off point to refuel both the car and the driver, Yea easily recalls the grandeur of the area’s gold mining past with historic buildings and graceful wide streets. It is also where the Goulburn River meets the Yea River and the Yea Wetlands, a treasure trove of flora and fauna.

Yea’s historic Gothic-styled railway station is beautifully preserved with its red brick façade. It’s a great place to pick up The Great Victorian Rail Trail or allow the kids to let off some steam at the playground.


TrawA short drive and it’s on to the district of Trawool, for there is no township as such. It is here that the Goulburn Valley Hwy plays cat and mouse with the Goulburn River and its lagoons. Holiday makers have been visiting Trawool Valley from the early 1900s to take in the area’s scenic charms and it’s easy to see why.  A visit to the iconic Trawool Estate will not disappoint.


Tallarook Farmers’ MarketNext stop is Tallarook and the start of the 134 km Great Victorian Rail Trail connecting Tallarook to Mansfield. Whether you choose to explore the trail by foot, by bike or by horse it certainly offers a unique way to take in some fresh air. Like so many townships along this great drive, a weekend trip to the farmers’ market is a great way to sample local produce and stock up at the same time. Since 2009, locals and visitors have been filling up their baskets and supporting producers and makers alike at Tallarook Farmers’ Market on the first Sunday of the month.


Food SeymourA short drive from Tallarook is Seymour, located on the banks of the beautiful Goulburn River. Very much the platonic ideal of a country town with its wide, welcoming streets and riverside parks, Seymour has always been a major stop on the Melbourne-Sydney route. The area has also had strong military connections since the establishment of a nearby training camp prior to WW1 and then later Puckapunyal Army Base.

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during blueberry season (summer) a stop-off at Blue Tongue Berries needs to be top of the list. The Brewer’s Table is your best bet for quality local food, craft beer and cider. While your wine needs are all taken care of with a visit to Wines By Sam, Sam Plunkett’s cellar door in the expertly refitted old Seymour dye works building.


AvenelThe historic township of Avenel was established in 1849 as a stop-over point between Melbourne and Albury. It is also known as the place where Ned Kelly’s family lived in the 1806s. Ned is now known as a bushranger and outlaw, but he was once hailed a hero after rescuing a young boy from drowning in a local creek. Fowles Wines is the perfect lunch spot; after all who can resist a wine with the name Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch?


Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal ArtNagambie calls and it’s our next stop. It is little wonder wineries are a great drawcard of Nagambie and surrounds. The cool climate (influenced by the Goulburn River and Lake Nagambie) combined with the area’s red sandy loam soil adds up to a distinctive wine region.

Look no further than the historic Tahbilk Winery and Mitchelton wineries for evidence. Situated within the Mitchelton estate in a disused underground wine cellars you’ll find the Mitchelton Gallery of Aboriginal Art, regional Victoria’s largest indigenous art gallery, celebrating the art of Australia’s First People, including local Taungurung people.


EuroaOur last stop is Euroa at the foothills of the Strathbogie Ranges. You’re definitely in Kelly country now – Ned Kelly and his gang bank robbed a local bank here in 1878. These days the town is a good base to explore the nearby Strathbogies, take a scenic drive to the Gooram waterfalls or perhaps take a quick dip in one of the popular swimming holes if weather allows.

Whether you are seeking a nature-lovers paradise, a taste of the region’s best restaurants and wineries or a relaxing getaway full of country hospitality, a Goulburn River and Ranges Road Trip has it all. Murrindindi, Mitchell and Strathbogie regions are an easy drive out of Melbourne with no end of things to experience whatever the season.

We suggest you plan to stay a while.


Goulburn River Road TripDiscover the huge variety of attractions across the region with this printable map. Download here.

Or use our helpful itinerary to plan your trip around the region.






We wish to acknowledge the Taungurung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.


Five Great Swimming Holes for Cooling Down this Summer

Words by Richard Cornish 
Images Supplied

It has already been a hot summer, and we have all been looking for ways to cool down. While many of us live near the coast, sometimes you’ll find yourself travelling inland, where beaches and swimming pools are a long way away. Lucky for us, dotted along our inland rivers are scores of popular swimming holes where the water is cool, clear and deep.

Dotted along our inland rivers are scores of popular swimming holes where the water is cool, clear and deep.

Often known only to the locals, these are spots where families gather on hot days to relax and chill out. Some are shady havens in the middle of the bush, others are like beaches on the edge of town with BBQs and loos.

Remember that swimming holes are special places and need to be respected. Never dive into a swimming hole; rivers are active waterways and rocks and logs can be swept down in a flood, continually changing submerged hazards. Sometimes the water can be extremely chilly and the shock on a hot day can be a health hazard. Water conditions can change rapidly too, especially after rain. So, with all that in mind, pack your boardshorts, grab a towel and head to the Victorian bush to swim in some of the most beautiful locations in the state. 

Pound Bend – Pound Bend Road, Warrandyte State Park

In the Yarra River’s upper region the water runs clean and clear. Even in the outer suburbs, locals make the most of the cold flowing river to cool down on a hot day. 

In Warrandyte, on the site of a historic gold mining operation, is a gentle beach with some shallow and some deeper pools. Called Pound Bend, it is also the site of a diversion tunnel that was hewn into the solid rock, which allowed miners to starve the bend in the river of its water and mine the rich alluvial gravel. 

Today the Yarra flows freely through this beautiful spot, shaded by towering mountain ash eucalyptus with plenty of parking, toilets and picnic facilities available. 

Drop by Rob Dolan wines on the way back and pick up a bottle of wine and some excellent cheese by Stone and Crow. 

Vaughn Springs – off Greville St, Vaughn Springs

You’ll find this popular swimming hole and campground on the banks of the Loddon River, 9km off the road between Daylesford and Castlemaine. 

It sits at the base of a steep cliff where the Loddon River was dammed early in the 1900s to make a pleasure park for the locals. Back then European trees were planted, rock walls built and hand pumps erected above the mineral springs. 

Today you’ll find a beautiful shaded park, toilets, BBQs, a giant slide and a deep pool of water with a gentle sloping pebble beach. Come early in the morning to see the resident platypus and take time to explore the Chinese cemetery by the reserve gates. 

After a swim head to the Guildford General Store for a really good homemade pie or tea and cake.

Turpins Falls Scenic Reserve –  Shillidays Rd, Langley

Note: Turpins Falls is currently closed due to deterioration of the walking track. Please check with Parks Vic for changes to access.

The walk down to this swimming hole outside of Kyneton is steep and overgrown with thistles. Make sure you wear long trousers and sturdy shoes. Take caution, as it is also somewhere that several people have died by diving into the cold water.

If you take caution, this is a beautiful reserve where the Campaspe River cascades some 20 metres down a basalt face. The circular pool is the size of several house blocks and the downstream side is shaded by river red gums and willow trees. The water is clear and deep in places but there are submerged rocks near the base of the falls. At this time of the year the waterfall has been reduced to a trickle but after rain the flow can be torrential. 

Note there are no facilities at Turpins Falls but if you time it right you could make a post swim lunch or dinner at Colenso in Kyneton, where local produce and wines dominate the menu – try the beef schnitzel with local mozzarella cheese. 

Centenary Park – Riverside Ave, Bright

The Ovens River runs through the heart of Bright, a sub alpine village under the shadow of Mount Hotham. In summer the locals increase the height of the weir to create a great big freshwater swimming pool in the centre of town. Called Centenary Park, this is one of the nation’s great and most glorious swimming holes, where toddlers paddle by a sandy beach on the creek and teenagers promenade on the boardwalk that follows the river. 

Nearby is a waterslide run by local Rotarians and on the opposite bank, shaded by river red gums, is a steep steel slide that plunges into the deep water with a young lifeguard looking on. There is also a free waterpark with cannons, mist rings and dumping bucket. 

Overlooking all this is Ginger Baker, a great café with shaded outdoor area serving great casual food and local wine and brews.

Livingstone Park – Creek Street, Omeo

On a hot summer’s Livingstone Park is a popular spot for young families and the town’s youngsters to paddle about in the shallows by the gravelly beach.

In the 1800s Livingstone Creek, on the edge of Omeo in East Gippsland, was dammed to create a source of drinking water for the gold mining town. Mid last century it was turned into a swimming pool. 

Today, there is a four-metre high platform from which the local teenagers hurl themselves. It’s a great spot for a swim after exploring this historic region – there is a shaded picnic area and nearby toilets, too. 

If you’re heading back down the Great Alpine Road towards Bruthen, stop off at Ensay Winery to try some cool-climate wines.