With the weather on the up-and-up and an extra day up our sleeves to enjoy it, we thought it was high time to roll out the picnic rug, pack a basket of goodies (maybe some Australian treats from Wild Basket, some bread from Sonoma, Brasserie Bread or Organic Bread Bar and a bottle of wine) and hunt out a spot to relax in the sunshine with some good company.
Sydney is full of picturesque parks and foreshore just waiting for you to set up camp for a romantic rendezvous, or spread out with a garrulous group. We might even suggest packing the croquet set, a stack of cushions and proper linen just to make it a real event - but let’s not forget, no matter how humble the fare, food always tastes better Al Fresco. And it’s doubly delicious on a long weekend.
Here are ten of our favourite spots to spread out a rug in the sunshine:
Centennial Park - It’s huge, it’s right in the thick of the city (so no long country drives) and once you’re here it feels like a million miles from anywhere. There are bikes to hire, horses out for a canter and with a variety of ponds, hillocks, tree lines and open spaces to choose from, you’re bound to find the perfect spot.
Balmoral Beach and Rocky Point Island (Balmoral) - It’s a quiet little beach when it comes to waves, but it’s perfect for a picnic, with lawn areas, an oval, the Balmoral baths netted off swimming area and the Island, where you can take in views of The Heads. So whether you want a dip as part of your picnic or some hot chips on the wharf and a coffee, Balmoral’s got you covered.
Clifton Gardens (Mosman) - adjoining Sydney Harbour National Park, this is another quiet beachside spot. It’s a big, open grassed space, fronting onto a gentle little beach. There’re picnic tables, a wharf and a baths area. Great if you want to have a round of impromptu lawn bowls - or any ball game really.
Echo Point Park (Roseville Chase) - Tucked away under the Roseville Bridge, this is a spot worth taking the side-street less travelled to find. There are grassy upper terraces, waterside picnic spots and plenty of bushland. It’s on the quiet shores of Middle Harbour. To get there, take a turn off from Warringah Road that loops around and takes you down under the bridge. If you’re feeling like a little exploring, you might even find one of the seven Aboriginal sites in the grounds.
Sydney Park (St Peters) - Again there’s plenty to choose from here in the way of spots to spread your picnic rug, but we recommend finding a spot on the hill, where you’ll get a 360degree view of Sydney. The former brickworks and rubbish tip recently celebrated 21 years as a 44-hectare parkland. So get out there and enjoy it!
Cremorne Point Reserve (Cremorne Point) - With views back across from the lower north shore to the city, you can take in the Opera House and The Harbour Bridge from relaxed grasslands on the foreshore. Or grab a spot on the plank boardwalk by the harbour side Mccallum pool, with the waves lapping below.
The Royal Botanic Gardens (Sydney) - They’re on the harbour with botanical significance and history dating back to first settlement and there’s a national herbarium - the beautifully maintained parkland has a huge selection of fine plant specimens. People get married here, need we say more?
Berry Island Reserve (Wollstonecraft) - It might be connected to the mainland by that gorgeous grassed causeway, but it’s still an island on Sydney Harbour covered in bushland and with views of the city. You can even bring your canine friend, but you have to keep him on a leash.
Cockatoo Island (Sydney Harbour) - Hop on a ferry and head out to historic Cockatoo Island. You can’t bring alcohol onto the island, but you can enjoy it in one of the bar areas - including The Island Bar with its grassed areas and deck chairs. And yep, it’s open on the public holiday Monday, and you can even stay on the Island if your picnic stretches out. But you might want to organise your glamping spot or accommodation before you hit the island.
Bronte Beach and adjoining park (Bronte) - You get the benefits of the beach, complete with waves, and the open spaces of the park behind you. Bring your swimmers and stretch out for a sunbake on the grass while you enjoy your picnic nibbles.