Unique Australian summer picnic experiences

With some of the world’s most unique landscapes, a summer picnic is one of the must-do experiences when visiting Australia. This guide reveals some of the country’s best picnic spots and things to do, including some for adventurous travellers and some for those who want a more laid back experience. Unique Australian summer picnic experiences
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Unique Australian summer picnic experiences

Summer is the perfect time to lay out a picnic blanket and enjoy Australia’s long, warm days.

With some of the world’s most unique landscapes, a summer picnic is one of the must-do experiences when visiting Australia. This guide reveals some of the country’s best picnic spots and things to do, including some for adventurous travellers and some for those who want a more laid back experience.

National Arboretum, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

National Arboretum, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Picnic within a Himalayan cedar forest at the National Arboretum, Canberra. The 250-hectare site, which opened west of Lake Burley Griffin in 2013, incorporates 90 existing forests, including 5000 Himalayan cedars planted between 1917 and 1930. A picnic deck within the forest features free barbecues and a lookout. Another forest – of cork oaks planted from acorns provided by Canberra’s co-designer Walter Burley Griffin – inspired an artful timber playground with acorn-shaped pods, also providing a great spot for an afternoon picnic.

Noosa National Park, Queensland  

After foraging for gourmet ingredients in Noosa, head to a picnic table within this wildlife refuge of Noosa National Park. You’ll spot koalas, glossy black cockatoos and inquisitive brush turkeys on your way in and five tracks, ranging from an easy 1 kilometre (2/3 mile) stretch to an 8 kilometre (5 mile) exploration, provide access to hidden beaches and rocky shorelines fringed with pandanus palms. While you’re enjoying your picnic, keep an eye on the water to spy passing whales, sea turtles and frolicking dolphins. 

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Launceston, Tasmania

Cataract Gorge Reserve, Tasmania  

Known as ‘The Gorge’ to locals, this reserve is one of Australia’s most unusual urban parks. In 15 minutes it’s possible to wander from central Launceston along the banks of the Tamar River into the Tasmanian wilderness. Trace a 19th-century pathway along a craggy cliff face and peer into the waters of the South Esk River. Take your pick of the Cliff Grounds, the shady northern side of the river home to resident peacocks, or cross the river to the First Basin, and tuck into your picnic. 

Zebedee Springs, El Questro, Western Australia

During the morning, crowds flock to these picturesque thermal springs enveloped by ancient King Leopold sandstone cliffs and shaded by rare Livistona palms on El Questro near Kununurra in the East Kimberley. During the afternoon, Zebedee Springs transforms into one of Australia’s most exclusive picnic spots. Set aside for those staying at The Homestead, El Questro’s exclusive property, it is usually arranged for just one couple at a time to enjoy the hot springs for an entire afternoon.

Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

Mount Gower, Lord Howe Island, New South Wales

Reaching this picnic spot isn’t for the faint of heart. Lord Howe Island’s Mount Gower can only be reached via a guided tour that includes donning a hard hat, traversing a steep cliff and hauling yourself up rock faces using ropes. The rewards make up for all the hard work, however. Near the top of the 875-metre-high block of rock, a stunning mist forest is home to tiny white orchids and dangling lichens. The all-day hike includes a picnic at the summit of the climb.  

Ormiston Gorge, Northern Territory

Ormiston Gorge, Northern Territory 

Earn your picnic at Ormiston Gorge by striking out on the spectacular 8 kilometre (5 mile) Ormiston Pound Walk. After ascending a ridge in the West MacDonnell Ranges west of Alice Springs, admire the view before crossing the pound to rock-hop your way through the photogenic gorge full of towering rust-red cliffs and boulders. A string of permanent waterholes attracts black-footed rock-wallabies and birds and the waterhole closest to the car park features a sandy beach. Bring fold-out chairs and a picnic and relax in one of the Red Centre’s most beautiful spots.

Warburton, Yarra Valley, Victoria

Drive through tall-timber country, via Healesville, to Warburton in the Yarra Valley for a fresh perspective on the Yarra River. In Healesville, pack a picnic basket with sourdough, cheese, wine and canele (a dessert originating from Bordeaux) at Innocent Bystander, a sprawling cellar door and restaurant that’s also home to an artisan bakery and cheese counter. In Warburton, find a shady spot by the river, listen to the crickets chirp, blow up the inflatable tube (they’re on sale in town) and float along the sparkling, crystal-clear waters to finish off your picnic experience. 

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