Weekends were created to inspire spontaneous smiles, new friendships and fun-filled adventures. Every weekend deserves a Weekend Note. Discover more by subscribing or clicking the 'Like' link at the end of the article.
Picnics are perfect for couples seeking romantic afternoon interludes, friends finding freedom with a barbecuing, banter and ball sports when the humble backyard disappears beneath towering apartment blocks, or parents eager for an outlet for their children's energy when their digital distractions are power drained. We've discovered ten of the top free picnic spots in Sydney.
Conveniently dominating the trendy inner-west, the bay is a beautiful backdrop for a picnic. Overlooking yachts gliding over Rozelle Bay and under ANZAC Bridge, you can share a wine or beer at the barbecues while kids tackle the playgrounds and mates kick a ball on the sports grounds.
There are spots for dogs to run free of leashes and walking tracks invite after-lunch exercise. Click for more info.
Centennial Park picnic (image by Centennial Parklands)
2. Centennial Park Beneath the grandstands of Sydney Cricket Ground in the eastern suburbs, Centennial Park stars with 11 picnic sites. For a first-timer, try Fearnley Grounds where shade, tables, barbecues and a cafe make an impromptu get-together easy. Young riders can safely master their bikes on the learner's cycleway, while adults can hire bicycles too. Click for more info.
3. Cockatoo Island After a ferry ride from Circular Quay, you can picnic on an island in Sydney Harbour. You'll be shaded by umbrellas but wear sunnies to mask the water's shimmering glare. The island has plenty of organised activities, including audio tours, kayak hire and tennis courts. There are barbecues and playgrounds. While you can't bring a beer, alcohol is available from the bar. Click for more info.
4. Manly Dam Surrounded by lush forest, Manly Dam in Manly Vale is a serene escape from the bustling beach at nearby Manly. There are gazebos and barbecues at the 4 picnic areas and the dam offers many diversions. Take a dip, ride a kayak or catch a bass fish. You can bring your own alcohol to celebrate your catch or commiserate with a tale about "the one that got away". Click for more info.
5. Parramatta Park Rich with Aboriginal and colonial history, Parramatta's Park has 85 hectares of gardens, trails, heritage buildings, playgrounds, fields and picnic shelters to choose from. Begin at the Picnic Ground in the park's north beside the Wisteria Gardens. Walk the 3-kilometre circuit, crossing Parramatta River and Domain Creek before lunch at the barbecues as you share the park with over 140 species of wildlife. Click for more info.
6. Mrs Macquarie's Chair Carved from the sandstone jutting from the tip of the Domain, invites picnickers for panoramic views of Sydney Harbour. Enjoy the creative and floral beauty at the Art Gallery and Royal Botanic Gardens on your way to the chair. Relax beneath Moreton Bay fig trees and drop in at the kiosk or bar if you need extra refreshments. This picnic spot is perfect for impressing friends from out of town with the best of Sydney. Click for more info.
7. Lane Cove National Park In our north, Lane Cove National Park is in easy reach but once inside, you'll escape the city within eucalypt forests, casuarina woodland and saltwater wetlands. Share a treat aboard a hired rowboat on the river or sip wine at the barbecue. Kids will love the slippery dips, forts and bridges in the playgrounds beside the Tunks Hill or Jenkins Hill picnic areas. Click for more info.
8. Cremorne Point
On the north shore, Cremorne Point's view of Sydney Harbour makes it an obvious picnic spot. Plant your BYO esky of beverages at the picnic tables, burn calories on the walking trails at the water's edge, challenge your fittest friends at the gym stations or take a salty swim in MacCullum Pool.
EG Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens picnic (image by Sutherland Shire Council)
9. EG Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens
For romantics and gardeners of all ages, these camellias in Caringbah within Sutherland Shire have been enjoyed by picnickers and wedding parties since the 1970s. In Yowie Bay, the park has a teahouse, playgrounds and barbecues. Best enjoyed in autumn and winter, the highlights can be explored with self-guided walks before closing time at 5pm. Click for more info.
10. Lady Robinsons Beach
White sands stretch along Sydney's south from Brighton-Le-Sands to Sandringham, providing dozens of picnic spots either on the beach, in parks beneath Norfolk pine trees. Separate bike and walking tracks run along the whole length of the beach, linking with barbecues, picnic tables and dozens of shops and cafes. Children can master sandcastle construction, enjoy the swings and rides at the playgrounds or swim in the enclosed bathing areas. Toilets, showers and car parks are dotted throughout the beach.
If you're prompted to picnic, I hope you love these choices as much as the clever converts relaxing at these spots each weekend. Have you discovered another fabulous picnic spot in Sydney? Please let us know, we love to discover new favourites.