If your idea of outdoors and adventure is trying tasty foods under the shade of a tree, have we got good news for you. Take advantage of Canberra’s sublime weather and diverse open spaces by heading to one of these perfect picnic spots.
About as inner-south as you can get, the Canberra Nara Peace Park within Lennox Gardens is an oasis of calm, just minutes from the city. A stroll across Commonwealth Avenue Bridge will position you amongst memorials and monuments that represent Canberra’s friendship with our sister city Nara. Take in the sail boats courtesy of Canberra Yacht Club and leafy surrounds.
After taking a highly-recommended guided walk through the Arboretum, reward your efforts with a well-earned picnic, surrounded by lush forest. Head to the Himalayan Cedar Forest BBQ area for a shady spot surrounded by giant cedars – you’ll feel like you’re a world away!
Like your picnics with a side of adorable-animal spotting and stunning natural landscapes? Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, located on the outskirts of the Namadgi National Park, is home to many native Australian animals including kangaroos, koalas, platypus and echidnas. A winner with the kids, the Nature Discovery Playground provides the perfect post-snack location to burn off that excess energy. There are picnic spots a-plenty throughout the Reserve – just be mindful of the adage “take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.”
In recent times, Gibraltar Falls has become the must-stop spot to see and be seen. After you’ve parked the car off Corin Road, a short walk will have you dangling your feet in the cooling water as you munch away on your mobile feast.
Still in Tidbinbilla, Corin Forest will fulfil all your longing for a whimsical and fairytale-esque leafy getaway. It may be wise to hold off on the picnic until after you’ve had the chance to zip down the one-kilometre long Alpine Slide through mountain ash forest – a must-do for all ages. Open weekends, public and school holidays, this is one for the children and children-at-heart to enjoy.
Another one that the kids will love, Australian National Botanical Gardens can accommodate larger groups, and the grass makes it an ideal run-around spot for the little ones. After setting up on the Eucalyptus Lawns or at one of the picnic tables dotted throughout, an explore through Rainforest Gully should be on the cards – just make sure no friends of the wildlife-variety hop by and help themselves to your lunch!
Possibly the most popular picnic spot for locals, Cotter Dam offers barbecue areas, walking tracks, a playground and – the best news for your stress-levels – lots of parking. While swimming is permitted, the nearby Casuarina Sands tends to be favoured for its shady embankments.
For a picnic setting oozing with old-world charm and romance, you’d be hard pressed to find a better location than Old Parliament House Gardens. The rose gardens were established in the 1930s and it’s here you’ll find seating pavilions, wisteria arbours, wooden trellises and open lawns. This is the spot to bring your girlfriends, accompanied by a thermos of hot tea and dainty cakes.
The beauty of Mount Ainslie lies not only in its stunning views but in the myriad of ways you can get to the top. Load up a backpack with treats and walk up, strap the basket to your bike and take to the bike track, or drive the car up if you’d rather spend your energy getting excited about stunning sunsets from your perfect picnic spot.
Be immersed in the art world at the NGA’s Sculpture Garden. Home to almost 30 key works by the best sculptors of the last three centuries, there’s plenty of seating dotted around and little nooks for you to set up your feast on grassed areas. Afterwards, you can burn off your picnic with a walk around the lake. Want to show off to your dining companions? Here’s our guide to navigating the NGA’s Sculpture Garden.