Is there anything more splendid than lazing away a warm afternoon sprawled across a tartan picnic blanket surrounding by a delicious smorgasbord of treats? We think not. This summer, gather your favourite people and head to one of these fabulous patches of grass. From croquet, at Rippon Lea to giant chess at St Kilda Botanical Gardens and a rowboat ride at Studley Park Boathouse, these are the best places to picnic in Melbourne.
Rippon Lea House and Gardens
Located around seven kilometers from the CBD in the suburb of Elsternwick, Rippon Lea House and Gardens is an expansive heritage-listed property dating back to 1868. Once home to one of Victoria’s most influential families, the mansion, and surrounding gardens are now open to the public. Picture a leisurely day spent exploring a 19th-century mansion before wandering through the gardens and settling by the lake for an aristocratic afternoon of cake and croquette (for hire). Spoil yourself and allow Carre Street Pantry House to take care of lunch with one of their hampers packed with sandwiches and canapés. They can also do an Anti-Pasto Platter and Cheese & Dried Fruit Platter.
Rippon Lea House and Gardens 192 Hotham St, Elsternwick VIC Australia, +61 3 9523 6095
Royal Botanic Gardens
Hidden in the heart of the city, the Royal Botanic Gardens is a 94-acre oasis with over 10,000 native and exotic plant species, selected for their value, rarity and diversity. Work up an appetite and run The Tan before propping up your lawn chair on one of the eleven picturesque lawns. Our favourite is Picnic Point where you can watch punt boats glide across the Ornamental Lake. After your feast you can wander the boardwalks at Guilfoyle’s Volcano, join the Herbarium Discovery Walk, visit The Ian Potter Foundation Children’s Garden or sit down for a coffee at one of two cafés. On your way stop by at South Melbourne Market which has more than 145 trades offering everything from boutique wines to speciality groceries and deli products.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Birdwood Ave, South Yarra, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9252 2300
Courtesy of Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria. Photographer: Adrian Vittorio
Laze around in the company of Fitzroy’s hipsters at Edinburgh Gardens. Located in North Fitzroy, the 59 acres park has open lawn areas where you can kick a footy around and is shaded by large trees making it the ideal place to shake out a rug. Edinburgh Gardens also features barbeque facilities, a heritage rotunda, tennis courts, a free skate park, and there is even a designated off-leash dog space for your four-legged friends. Stock up beforehand at Piedmonte – an independently owned one-stop-shop supermarket with their liquor department. They can even put together a gourmet deli platter for you.
Edinburgh Gardens Alfred Cres, Fitzroy North VIC Australia, + 61 3 9205 5555
Studley Park Boathouse and Picnic Area
Restaurant, Australian, $$$
Studley Park Boathouse and Picnic Area
Relax on the banks of the Yarra beside the historic Studley Park Boathouse in Kew, one of Melbourne’s most iconic riverside attractions. Adjacent to the Boathouse you’ll find the Studley Park Picnic Area which has shelters, tables, and electric barbeques. There is also the Bellbird Picnic Area which boasts all the same facilities minus the crowds. A popular activity is to hire a rowboat, canoe or kayak and paddle along the Yarra River. The best part is you don’t even need to pack a lunch as the kiosk sells everything from burgers to pies, wraps, paninis, hot chips and more. You can even stop by the café for a refreshing iced coffee.
Studley Park Boathouse and Picnic Area 1 Boathouse Rd, Kew VIC Australia, + 61 3 9853 1828
St Kilda Botanic Gardens
Picnics in St Kilda typically involve eating fish and chips on the beach while shooing away three-legged seagulls, but for an utterly charming experience minus the greedy company visit St Kilda Botanic Gardens. Established in 1859 the gardens feature a giant chess board and chess tables, glasshouses, an Eco Centre, conservatory, playground and an ornamental pond with a solar-powered Rain Man fountain. There are also picnic tables and gazebo. You can even bring your pooch as long as they’re kept on a leash. Fill your wicker basket with savoury pastries and fruit buns from Baker D Chirico, a takeaway Cheesebox from Milk the Cow and a five course grazing hamper courtesy of Fitzrovia, all of which are less than three kilometres from the gardens.
St Kilda Botanical Gardens 11 Herbert St, St Kilda VIC Australia, + 61 3 9209 6777
Courtesy St Kilda Botanic Gardens