Victoria’s 20 best picnic spots
Pack a picnic basket and hit the road with this guide to the best picnic spots in Victoria.
Picnic season is officially here and, after months in lockdown, whiling away the afternoon over cheese platters in the park has become this year's bucket-list summer soiree.
From lush forests and suburban lakeside gems to hidden jungles and scenic urban parks, we’ve helped narrow down 20 of Victoria's best garden party locations. So grab a bottle of wine, pack a picnic basket and soak in the serenity at these picturesque picnic spots.
Hit the wide open road and check out some of Victoria's best picnic spots.
SkyHigh, Mount Dandenong
Take a scenic drive up the winding roads of the Dandenong Ranges and you’ll have your pick of a range of beautiful picnic spots. It’s hard to beat the views over Melbourne offered by SkyHigh, right at the top of Mount Dandenong. Set in an English-style garden with a canopy of mature blackwoods, a maze and restaurant, while away a few hours before choosing your spot to look out over the Dandenong Ranges National Park and city skyline.
Sherbrooke Forest, Sherbrooke
SkyHigh can draw crowds, so if you’re looking for something a little quieter head to Sherbrooke Forest. There’s a picturesque walk to the Sherbrooke Falls, dotted with mountain ash gums and the sounds of native birds. Follow up the gentle hike with a stop at the picnic grounds.
Grants Picnic Ground, Kallista
For something a little more secluded, head to Grants Picnic Ground, where you can meander along one of the myriad walking tracks that start from the picnic ground. Or, grab a seed token from Grants on Sherbrooke cafe and enjoy feeding the friendly local wildlife. Expect to see a kaleidoscope of colour as the native cockatoos, rosellas and parrots fly in to say hello.
One Tree Hill, Ferny Creek
If you prefer the idea of an active date activity, throw on your activewear, grab a backpack and head for the hills. At the top of the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk (or 1000 steps, as it’s known by locals) is a lovely picnic ground equipped with picnic tables and shelters, barbecues, toilets and even a grassy area perfect for picnic blankets. If you don’t feel like tackling the challenging hike, there are plenty of amenities at the base of the walk (as well as a bustling cafe), if you feel like taking in the serenity without the exertion.
Fairfield Park Boathouse, Melbourne
For a truly old-school date, head down to the iconic Fairfield Boathouse set on the Yarra just shy of Northcote. For roughly $40, choose from a gentleman’s rowing skiff, kayak or canoe and spend an hour or so on the river, flanked by towering gums and serenaded by native birds. Take your picnic basket out onto the water, or choose a spot near the riverbank to replenish your energy. Lace parasol not required, but encouraged.
Lysterfield Park, Lysterfield
What’s not to love about an afternoon of canoeing and canoodling by the lake (BYO blanket and canoe). The sprawling Lysterfield Park has everything you could need for a romantic picnic or fun-filled family day. The popular weekend spot has two lakeside picnic areas (each with picnic tables, toilets and free barbecue facilities), as well as lots of walking and jogging tracks, and ample parking.
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne
An oldie, but a goodie... with the added convenience of a central location. Wander through The Royal Botanic Gardens’ lush 38-hectare surroundings, exploring each of the unique gardens, including the new Palm Springs-inspired Arid Garden, before settling into a peaceful spot with some fresh bread, cheese and berries. For extra brownie points, you can even go on a romantic boat ride around the RBGs’ ornamental lake, with RACV members saving 10 per cent on Punting on the Lake tours.
Ringwood Lake Park, Ringwood
Set over 8.5 hectares of prime Ringwood real estate, you’ll find that Ringwood Park Lake is one of the suburb’s best-kept secrets. The rambling park, playground, bushland reserve and recreation area offers something for couples, families and friends alike, with picnic tables, free electric barbecues and even changing rooms. And if that doesn’t convince you, the playground features a network of play trails – which include rope courses, balance platforms, cubbies, and even sand and water areas – that weave through the trees.
Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen
Grab a coffee and a picnic hamper from the Heide Cafe and bask in the beautiful surroundings of the Heide museum and gallery, which is reopening on 28 November. Explore the famous Heide II kitchen garden and take in the more than 30 stunning sculptures dotted over the park’s perfectly meanderful Yarra-side location.
Hedgeley Dene Gardens, Malvern East
Hidden away in Malvern East you’ll find Melbourne’s ultimate secret garden. Hedgeley Dene Gardens is a lush oasis in the middle of suburbia. With wooden bridges that cross over ornamental lakes, expansive green lawns, pretty parklands and even a waterfall, this secluded, tree-studded Eden is the ultimate family picnic spot.
Hit the wide open road and check out some of Victoria's best picnic spots.
10 of the best places for a picnic in regional Victoria
Thompsons Beach, Cobram
According to locals, Thompsons is Australia’s largest inland beach. It’s also one of the most accessible sandy stretches along the Murray River, with facilities including barbecues and boat hire. Sink an umbrella on the sandy banks or shelter under river red gums on the grass, and have one of Victoria’s most unconventional beach days. Just outside Yarrawonga, Rich Glen Olive Estate's in-house providore offers hampers made up with goodies from the Murray food bowl, available to enjoy in the charming gardens or to go. Base yourself at RACV's relaxed Cobram Resort and sip your way through the Goulburn Valley wine region's best cellar doors.
Hanging Rock Reserve, Macedon Ranges
A sacred Indigenous spot and setting of Joan Lindsay’s classic Australian novel Picnic at Hanging Rock, this spot in the heart of the Macedon Ranges makes a beautiful place for a picnic. The reserve is often home to live music and markets, but for a peaceful afternoon we suggest choosing from one of the many shady picnic spots and soaking up stunning views of the Rock. There’s plenty of lawn for a BYO bocce game, as well as free barbecues and tables. Take a wander up the Rock and keep your eyes open for koalas and roos, rosellas and cockatoos. Plus, check out our guide to the best wineries to visit in the Macedon Ranges.
Eastern Beach, Geelong
With towering palm trees, water views and a beautiful boardwalk dotted with more than 100 painted bollards, Geelong’s Eastern Beach makes for one heck of a picnic spot. Bring your picnic rug and pick a spot on the sun-soaked grassy knoll to watch the sunset or climb aboard the foreshore’s Giant Sky Wheel and take in a spectacular sunset from the sky.
The Esplanade, Torquay
Over the glorious summer months, holidaymakers throng the Surf Coast and Great Ocean Road, where RACV's award-winning Torquay Resort is just a stone's throw from the sun, sand and scenery of Torquay's famed Esplanade. From under the Norfolk pines you can soak up the action on Torquay’s Front Beach, where squealing kids dive headlong into the waves and locals cycle and walk their dogs. And what's a trip to the seaside without fish 'n' chips? Off The Esplanade, Fisho's doles out an upscale version of the classic takeaway with locally sourced seafood and hand-cut chips or wholesome salads.
Seawinds Gardens, Arthurs Seat
For a picnic with a view, head to Seawinds Gardens in Arthurs Seat. Just a short walk from the Arthurs Seat Summit and William Ricketts sculpture collection, this 34-hectare reserve offers spectacular views of Port Phillip Bay and the Mornington Peninsula. There are walking tracks and exotic gardens aplenty, as well as ample picnic facilities including tables, barbecues and toilets. For even more breathtaking views, an Arthurs Seat Eagle gondola ride is a must do. The state-of-the-art cable cars take you to the highest point of the peninsula, where you can take in panoramic vistas of the bay, the city and everything in between. RACV members save 10 per cent on tickets.
Polperro, Red Hill
Go all-out gourmet with minimal effort at Polperro. The acclaimed Mornington Peninsula vineyard, which is just a short drive from RACV's captivating Cape Schanck Resort, lets visitors pre-order luxe picnic provisions to enjoy on the grounds, best washed down with a Mornington-grown pinot noir or pinot gris. Polperro's kitchen packs picnic baskets with nibbles such as spiced nuts, quiche, charcuterie, cheese, hearty salads and a delectable dessert. Plonk yourself in a deckchair beside the dam or grab one of the rugs provided and get down to the serious business of demolishing your no-fuss feast.
Wombat Hill, Daylesford
Nestled in the peaceful town of Daylesford sits Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens. The scenic spot is located on the summit of an extinct volcano and offers panoramic views of the town and surrounds. Pack your picnic basket and settle in to watch the sunset, or make the most of the views with a drive around the perimeter of the garden while you build up your appetite. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on their leash. If you want to go all-out, treat yourself to some serious pampering at Daylesford Day Spa, where RACV members save up to 20 per cent on treatments. Stock up on local produce and smallgoods at the iconic Cliffy’s Emporium or, if you’re feeling lazy, Wombat Hill House cafe inside the botanical gardens offers kitted-out picnic hampers. Make a weekend of it with a stay at RACV's glittering Goldfields Resort.
Moonlight Creek, Gippsland
The setting of this verdant picnic ground in Mount Worth State Park is nearly as lovely as its name. A haven of dripping rainforest surrounded by farmland just south of Warragul, the park is an underappreciated stop-off while exploring the rolling Strzelecki Ranges. Work off lunch on the walking trails leading out from Moonlight Creek, which plunge through tree ferns beneath looming mountain ash. West Gippsland offers a wealth of of farm-fresh supplies. Pick up sheep-milk cheese from Prom Country Cheese, berries from Sunny Creek Organic, fresh bread by Hope Farm Bakery and boutique drops from Cannibal Creek Winery.
Cape Woolamai State Faunal Reserve, Phillip Island
Just a short drive from RACV's relaxed Inverloch Resort you'll find one of Victoria's most underrated coastal walks. Located on Phillip Island's rugged south-east side is the Cape Woolamai State Faunal Reserve, which boasts 308 hectares of pristine coastal scenery. Go for a hike to the pink granite Pinnacles, check out the pink granite quarry at Cleeland Bight or stop in at the Wooli General for some fish and chips or a falafel wrap and enjoy a picnic as you watch the waves crash into Cape Woolamai Surf Beach. If you're lucky, you might even spot a herd of dolphins as they migrate past the island.
While you're there, stop in at the Phillip Island Chocolate Factory for your fill of decadent delights, take on an adventure challenge at nearby A MazeN Things or unleash your inner David Attenborough with front-row seats to Phillip Island's majestic Penguin Parade, which has recently undergone a multi-million dollar facelift. RACV members save on entry to all three attractions.
Shack Bay, Inverloch
Humping your hamper down the stairs to this Bass Coast beach will be forgiven once you reach the hidden cove. Tucked away along the Bunurong Coastal Drive – dubbed “the other Great Ocean Road” – Shack Bay is an ideal spot to secure a patch of sand without the crowds of its famed counterpart on the opposite coast. Retreat to RACV's tranquil Inverloch Resort via the coastal drive and take in pint-sized providores Udder & Hoe in nearby Kilcunda, or raid the farmers’ markets on Inverloch Esplanade on the third Sunday of the month.