No need to be coy about it, Sydney. You’re a real looker. And that’s in no small part because of stretches of coast and green space. Now that the new season has sprung, why not make a homemade batch of cocktails thanks to former bartender of the year, Chris Hysted, and take a picnic tour of the city.

Hornby Lighthouse
The cliff at Hornby looks like a sketch from a beautiful children’s book. There’s a century-old candy-cane-coloured lighthouse, a Georgian-style sandstone cottage, a sheer cliff plummeting into rock pools or the white strands of wave ends and a picturesque lawn that looks every bit like it was designed for a picnic mat and a Lawrenceburg lemonade highball. If you go at sunset, head to the end of the concrete bunker and take in the harbour view.
South Head, NSW

Lake Parramatta
Parramatta reserve is one of the most significant and beautiful stretches of bushland in all of Western Sydney. It’s unimaginable that it’s just walking distance from a highway, a hospital, a school and a major urban centre. Just at the beginning of the year the lake reopened for swimming. The site also features barbeques, a number of short bush walks and the Arrunga Bardo Bush Food Garden.
Enter from Lackey Street via Bourke Street, North Parramatta

Karloo Pools
Get the train to Heathcote. When you get off, look for the sign for the Karloo track to Uloola Falls. We’re not going to Uloola Falls though, we’re going to Karloo Pools, an outrageously pristine set of pools surrounded by flat rocks perfect for a rug, some grub and an afternoon drink. Check the weather for previous rainfall, the track can be rather boggy if it’s been wet.
Royal National Park, NSW

The Basin
During the festive season the Basin is awash with young families, roast chickens, inflatable pool toys and shiny reflective tents. Mid-year and early spring? It’s a barren beach paradise. Although it’s a bit of a hike from the city centre, it’s totally equipped for picnics. Bring snorkels for the marine life and, if you’re a veteran picnic-er, a few prawns and a slab of snapper to accompany your batch of Tom Collins for the Basin’s barbeque and fire pits.
Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, NSW

The Barangaroo Reserve
Banagaroo’s newest attraction opened just last month and it’s spectacular. Designed by Peter Walker (the man behind the 9/11 memorial), the park features sandstone cut from the site’s original rock mass and more than 80 native plant species. In the centre is a large lawn with immense harbour views perfect for a few picnic butts, a basket of paninis and a batch of pale rider.
The northern end of Barangaroo, where it meets Millers Point on the western edge of Sydney CBD