Putting sausage to grill surrounded by council-planned nature is an Australian birthright. It combines the best of camping and picnics: the ability to cook outdoors, but in close proximity to a supermarket should someone forget the tomato sauce.
We’ve tracked down some of the city’s best spots to drop a blanket, open a bottle of wine, and get your grill on.
Como Landing, Alexandra Avenue, Richmond
Here’s an idea: barbeque on a leafy island in the middle of Richmond. We’re not kidding. This tranquil spot on the Yarra is only accessible by boat – on a good day, you’ll have the small island all to yourself. There’s the essentials – a couple of barbeques and toilets – as well as a walking trail where you can view public sculptures by environmental artists.
Herring Island is accessible all-year round for private boat owners. For the rest of us boat-less folk, there’s a public punt departing from Como Park North. Just note, it operates on a needs basis between 11am–5pm only during summer weekends (including some public holidays). It’ll set you back $2 a head, or $5 for the family.
This year’s boat dates are from December 10, 2016 to April 17, 2017, including certain public holidays.
Royal Parade, Carlton North
Nabbing a spot at North Fitzroy park Edinburgh Gardens in the middle of summer is a tough game. Even more so for the barbeques, which are stationed adjacent to the two playgrounds. Instead of doing battle there, head straight across to Princes Park, where there’s plenty of open green spaces; a spot by the bowls club to let your dog off-lead; tennis courts; sports fields; and a premium barbeque spot right by the cricket oval.
Princes Park is popular with locals, especially in the summer, but with almost 40 hectares of space, there’s more than enough room for everyone.
Studley Park Boathouse
1 Boathouse Road, Kew
You can’t go past Studley Park for a barbeque and a boating session. Get all your mates together, take in the views and make a fool of yourself trying to row down the Yarra. If rowing isn’t your thing, head over to Yarra Bend Park across Kane’s Bridge. It’s the largest area of natural bushland in inner Melbourne, and there’s also a golf green and mini-golf course on this side, too.
Newport Lakes Park
Lakes Drive, Newport
Newport Lakes is a 33-hectare hidden oasis in the inner-west, between Spotswood and Williamstown. There's plenty of wildlife – it's actually a major drawcard for birdwatchers (85 different species of birds have been recorded here) – and the park has two lakes encircled by a two-kilometre walking trail. There's electric barbeques, sheltered eating areas, and dogs can run free in the westernmost part of the park.
Jacka Boulevard, St Kilda West
For a sausage-sizzle by the sea, head to Catani Gardens, which stretches six hectares along the St Kilda foreshore with Canary Island-palm trees all the way. There’s loads of shady spots and ample opportunity to jump down onto the sand. Once the barbie’s done and dusted, people-watch along the foreshore, sit on the sand and look out across the bay, or press-on to the myriad restaurants and bars of Fitzroy Street.
Werribee Park, Werribee
K Drive, Werribee
Werribee Park is well worth the 30-minute drive out of the CBD. Wander around the manicured lawns, enormous gardens and Victorian-era mansion – the experience is similar to visiting a sprawling private residence but big enough to find space for seclusion (Werribee Open Range Zoo is also right next-door and worth a look).
Gas barbeque facilities are available near the main car park – though not available on days of total fireban – and portable grills are also allowed in the barbeque area. Entry to the park grounds and rose garden are free, but access to the mansion requires a small fee.
This article is presented in partnership with St Huberts’s new range of Victorian wines, The Stag, which includes chardonnay, shiraz and pinot noir.