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Published March 13th 2018
One of the reasons why people enjoy living in Canberra is the wide range of seasons, however not all of them are suited to the humble picnic by the lake. We may get days in summer which push 40 degrees in the shade, or the occasional day in winter where the wind chill is below zero degrees. Thankfully this doesn't happen very often, so every day in between those days is a perfect day for a picnic by Lake Burley Griffin. Summer is the ideal time to lie on a blanket and watch the clouds drift by, autumn is a spectacular display of falling leaves, winter is a cosy time to warm up in the sun and spring is a stunning time to lay back and literally smell the flowers.
Lake Burley Griffin is the beating heart of the city, especially on weekends, as locals and tourists are drawn to its shores for a walk, ride, picnic or simply just to watch the ripples dance over its surface. So where are the best picnic spots to make the most of this scenic location? See below for a few of our family's personal favourites, however if you have a different one, please leave a comment at the top of this article and share your secret spot - if you are happy to share it. So pack up the basket, fill up the thermos and hop in the car - it's a beautiful weekend for a picnic.
Relax in the gardens of the National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden
The National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden is a quiet, scenic spot located right on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin and close to all the attractions in the Parliamentary Triangle. Unpack the picnic blanket and unwrap the sandwiches and lay out on the grass under the shade of the gum trees and enjoy the serenity. This spot is also a popular place for walkers and cyclists to stop for a rest on the lawns, with views over to the National Carillon and beyond. After your picnic, also explore the 26 sculptures dotted around the gardens, including Fog sculpture, which operates between 12:30pm and 2pm. If you have kids, take their scooters so they can ride along the path beside the lake and all the way up to Elixer café and back. See here for a map of how to find it.
The National Carillon is located on Aspen Island which is right across the lake from the picnic spot above, just a 10 minute walk up and over Kings Avenue Bridge. It is another scenic spot for a picnic, with the added benefit of the 55 bells chiming above every 15 minutes and on the hour. If you don't like loud noises however, you may want to sit further away. This grassy island has a few benches and tables, or relax on the grass and watch the ducks, swans, kayaks and cruise boats glide by. On weekends there is also the Burley Grind coffee van located in the car park and kids will enjoy a play at Boundless playground in Kings Park afterwards. If you enjoy the bells, stay and listen for a free concert each Sunday, by a carillonist who catches a lift up to the top to play them. This picnic spot has it all. See here for a map to find it.
Listen to the 55 bells at the top of the Carillon, whilst having a picnic by the lake
Nerang Pool is a small wetlands area of the lake, which is part of the 34 hectare Commonwealth Park. Although the lake itself has a relaxing view to look out over, the Nerang Pool wetlands area is also another entertaining spot for a picnic - particularly if you like bird watching. There are a wide variety of waterbirds that pick their way around the reeds, as well as rosellas, finches and other native birds in the trees. If you have older kids, take the scooters once again and they will also enjoy a play in the Stone Fort playground nearby, which looks like a medieval fort. See here for a map to find it.
Picnic spots, playground and birdlife, at the peaceful Nerang Pool
Has your favourite picnic spot been mentioned? Wherever you decide to pull up for a picnic this weekend, it is sure to be scenic, relaxing and an enjoyable time for everyone who has a treasured spot on your picnic blanket. Also make sure you look above you and all around you while you eat, as you may have a whole host of native wildlife watching you who may also want to be part of the fun.
Kangaroos, birds and BBQ's at Weston Park - all combining to make a relaxing day on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin