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Westgate Park Melbourne
Photograph: R Reeve

The best public barbecue spots in Melbourne

Enjoy the outdoors with a sausage sanga in hand at one of these locations

Written by
Time Out editors

Springtime weather in Melbourne is certainly mercurial, pouring freezing rain one day and warm, sunny and beautiful the next. But we've been cooped up inside so long that we're pretty ready to enjoy seeing friends and eating food together, rain be damned.

Now that five vaccinated Melburnians are now allowed to gather together for picnics and outdoor recreation, it's time to dust off that barbecue kit. Picnic packs are fantastic, but there's something about food that is cooked and eaten alfresco that makes it at least 15 per cent more delicious than food cooked and eaten inside. 

We are very fortunate in Melbourne to have hundreds of free municipal barbecues in our parks, gardens, beaches and other summertime hot spots. Across the city there are plenty of picturesque spots with in-built barbecues just waiting to have some snags (meat or veggie) thrown onto them.

For more alfresco dining fun, check out our guides to Melbourne's best picnic spots and walking trails.

Get barbecuing at these locations

  • Things to do
  • Melbourne

What could be more picturesque than firing up the barbecue and unpacking the salads and bread rolls in front of a backdrop of Melbourne’s city skyline? The banks of the Yarra River feature multiple barbecue spots, most with their own seating. The closest barbecues to the city are at Birrarung Marr, but if you’re prepared to walk a bit further, there are some leafy family-friendly areas on Alexandra Avenue between Swan Street Bridge and Morell Bridge.

  • Things to do
  • Port Melbourne

It’s not hard to work out why this Port Melbourne park has the name it does: the vibrant wetland and nature sanctuary literally sits under the Westgate Bridge. Enter via Todd Road for easy access to the barbecues and picnic area, where you may find yourself sharing your bread rolls with some of the bird species that call Westgate Park home, including ibis, spoonbills and pelicans. The 54-hectare park also has freshwater and saltwater lakes, beautiful indigenous plants and several walking and cycling paths, plus striking views of the bay and city.

  • Things to do
  • West Melbourne

Brilliant for on-a-whim barbecuing. Next time you’re in the city, grab some bits and bobs from Vic Markets and head to the barbecues on the William Street side of the gardens, close to the Flagstaff Tennis Courts. Wander around the gardens to explore a memorial to Melbourne’s pioneers erected in 1871, and contemporary art installations.

  • Things to do
  • St Kilda

It's no wonder St Kilda has one of the most popular beaches in Melbourne. The shore is home to all kinds of sport, whether you're a beach cricket, volleyball or frisbee enthusiast, and the water is safe for swimming and watersports. There are free barbecue facilities in Catani Gardens, which are a perfect (and popular!) spot to get your snag on. A beach in the sunshine, drink in one hand, sausage in the other – is there a better way to celebrate Melbourne summer?

  • Things to do
  • Carlton North

It’s not quite Central Park, but Princes Park is almost as much of a Melbourne icon as New York’s urban paradise. It stretches almost two kilometres from Carlton to Brunswick, includes Carlton Football Club’s home Visy Park and rivals The Tan for the inner-city’s most popular jogging spot on the weekend. Battle your way past the social cricketers and Frisbee throwers to the public barbecues just south of Visy Park, and a short stroll from the public toilets at Princes Hill Tennis Courts.

Edinburgh Gardens
  • Things to do
  • Fitzroy North

North Fitzroy’s Edinburgh Gardens is regularly mentioned in travel guides as one of Melbourne’s most popular parks; maybe that explains why it can be next to impossible to score a shaded spot to enjoy lunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The 24-hectare gardens include three separate barbecue areas. Tables and chairs are scattered throughout the park, or bring a picnic rug and hope to find somewhere shady. Additions to the gardens in the past 18 months include an all-weather table tennis table and a basketball half court.

  • Things to do
  • Bundoora

Take a leisurely drive – or jump on the 86 tram – 15 kilometres north of the city to Bundoora Park. The 180-hectare park features expansive open spaces to enjoy a bite to eat, and four separate sheltered picnic areas with gas and wood barbecues. They can get busy on weekends, so perhaps try arriving before or after peak period (12pm-1.30pm) to increase your chances. Other activities within the park include a heritage village, wildlife reserve, a rustic children’s farm and even a golf course.

  • Things to do
  • St Kilda West

Want to enjoy your sausages and burgers with the intoxicating waft of sea breeze in the air? St Kilda West’s Catani Gardens is just the ticket. The six-hectare gardens aren’t the largest around; but they sit right above St Kilda Beach and several openings in the park provide direct access down to the sand. Full of those famous St Kilda palm trees, the gardens feature open-air barbecues and a path leading to the Edwardian-style rotunda, as well as plenty of shade.

  • Things to do
  • Coburg

Gaffney Street, Coburg is best known for its huge homemaker centre, but continue past the hordes of Bunnings shoppers, north of Sydney Road, to Harmony Park. The community gardens were revamped in 2008 to include the area’s best skate park and an adventure playground. There are huge shaded sails over the public barbecue area, and ample benches near the covered sandpit. Plus, the entire park offers free wireless internet access, so you can update your Facebook status with one hand as you turn the snags with the other.

  • Things to do
  • Kew

The historic Studley Park Boathouse is a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike; where visitors can enjoy lunch before hiring a canoe or kayak and exploring the Yarra River. The adjacent Studley Park Picnic Area is a peaceful spot for a barbecue away from the crowds. It’s well equipped with public barbecues, sheltered areas and toilets – and if you close your eyes and take in the serenity, you’ll barely believe you’re a 10-minute drive from the city.

  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Heatherton

Opposite a Bunnings on Warrigal Road in Heatherton is a hidden gem of a park. Karkarook Park doesn't look like much from the outside, but drive in and you''ll find an environmental oasis, full of native flora and fauna. An artificial lake is popular for kayaking and canoeing, and you can also try your hand fishing for rainbow trout or red fin. Runners and walkers enjoy the four-kilometre path around the lake, wetlands and bushland at all times of day, and kids are kept entertained by an adventure playground. There are several covered picnic areas with free barbecues, and plenty of open space for dogs to run around, too. 

The 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk
  • Sport and fitness
  • Tremont

Twitchers, travellers, picnickers and bucket listers from across the city make the breathless march up this stony challenge in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Actually attempting to count the 1,000 steps as you trudge up is nearly impossible as blood, sweat and adrenaline do battle over your brain. (We reckon there are only 770, anyway.) There is also a newer, adjacent track up the hill, if you'd rather do your climbing in a wide boulevard than a series of stone steps. The reward for your achievement? There’s no shortage of lush picnic spots and barbecue areas back down among the skyscraping gum trees, where you can celebrate your successful ascent with a snag and a cool beverage.

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