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The best picnic spots in Sydney

The weather is fine, the picnic basket packed. Here are Time Out's top spots for whiling away an afternoon

Photograph: Alex Lang

What could be more romantic than a picnic packed for two and sweeping harbour views? Where else could you organise a long, lazy lunch for a big group of friends? Or, an impromptu dinner date alfresco? Cancel your restaurant booking and head to one of these top places to enjoy a picnic. We’ve called ahead to find out if there’s parking, toilets and barbecues too. You can thank us later. 

Barangaroo Reserve

Best for Watching the sunset over the harbour
Parking There's metered parking for 300 cars located under the park
Is there shade? No
Other facilities There's a massive cultural space called the Cutaway
Can I BYO? No. There's a bar on-site 
What's my view? You've got Sydney Harbour Bridge to the right, Balmain, Pyrmont and Darling Harbour to the left, with glittering harbour all around.
And is there toilet access? Yes, in two locations

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Barangaroo

Blackwattle Bay Park

Best for A hassle-free Sunday funday on the water if you live in the inner west
Parking No
Is there shade? Some
Other facilities Barbecue areas, playground, historical structures, sports fields, walking path, water fountains. Dogs are also permitted off-leash
Can I BYO? Yes
What's my view? The ANZAC Bridge and the waters of Rozelle Bay
And is there toilet access? Yes

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Glebe

Bradfield Park

Best for Gazing at the proudly hulking mass that is the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Parking
 It's metered parking in the surrounding area, or two free hours on some streets
Is there shade? Yes
Other facilities Fenced playground and a water fountain. Dogs are also permitted (with restrictions), and it's close to Olympic Pool and Luna Park
Can I BYO? Only between 7am and 7pm
What's my view? Sydney Harbour, the Harbour Bridge and the city skyline
And is there toilet access? Yes 

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Milsons Point

Centennial Park

Best for Spreading wayyyy out (it's huge) and lazing on the grass
Parking
 Yes 
Is there shade? There are covered areas and plenty of trees
Other facilities Restaurant, café, kiosk, bicycle hire, horseriding, bike path, running path, walking path
Can I BYO? Yes
What's my view? Surrounding parkland
And is there toilet access? Yes

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Centennial Park

Clifton Gardens

Best for Indecisive groups - there are beaches, bushland and a large grassy area
Parking Your best bet is the car park conveniently located nearby
Is there shade? Yes, undercover gazebo seating can be booked in advance
Other facilities Netted harbour pool, children’s playground (newly refurbished, shaded), basketball courts, skateboard/scooter track, walking tracks, dog exercise area, kiosk/café
Can I BYO? Not specified
What's my view? Hit the grassed reserve for harbour and water views
And is there toilet access? Yes. There's a modern new block and changerooms, too

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Manly

Cockatoo Island

Best for An offbeat, day-spinning picnic
Parking 
Cockatoo is only accessible by boat: try a ferry from circular quay, or hire a water taxi. Private boats can moor ($15 for 4 hours). Feeling adventurous? You can always kayak to the island, too.
Is there shade? Yes, plenty of umbrellas
Other facilities Café, bar, live music, tennis court, historical audio tour, boat hire, kayaking, swimming, kids' activities, barbecues and a drinks machine
Can I BYO? No alcohol may be brought to the island. Try the licensed bar onsite
What's my view? The harbour surrounds
And is there toilet access? Yes

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Sydney

Como Pleasure Grounds

Parking: Yes
Shade: Yes, trees and over BBQ areas
Other facilities (playgrounds, running water): Como swimming complex (seasonal, free admission, 20m pool) netted tidal baths, picnic tables, BBQs, playground, walking path, bike track
BYO: Not Specified
Views: Georges River and surrounding bushland
Access to bathrooms: Yes

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Como

Cremorne Point Reserve

Best for Unrivalled views of the harbour and city, and plenty of non-eating activities
Parking Limited on Milson and Cremorne Rds
Is there shade? Yes
Other facilities MacCallum saltwater pool (it's free), walking track, picnic tables and eating, playground, gym units/fitness stations, dogs on leash permitted, water fountain, ferry wharf
Can I BYO? Yes
What's my view? See above
And is there toilet access? Yes

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Cremorne Point

Davidson Park

Best for A delightful day trip north
Parking Yes
Is there shade? Some. There are lots of trees and the barbeceue area (there are gas, electric and wood options) is covered
Other facilities Drinking water, picnic tables, walking trails, fishing, disabled access, boat ramps
Can I BYO? Yes
What's my view? Take your pick: Garigal National Park, Middle Harbour Creek, Roseville Bridge and bushland
And is there toilet access? Yes

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Forestville

EG Waterhouse National Camelia Gardens

Best for A refreshing respite from the heat and hubbub of the inner city
Parking Yes
Is there shade? Yes
Other facilities Teahouse, barbecues, playground, dogs permitted on leash
Can I BYO? No
What's my view? Flower, flowers, flowers
And is there toilet access? Yes 

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Caringbah

Hyde Park

Parking: No, CBD council car parking only
Shade: Some tree cover
Other facilities (playgrounds, running water): bicycle parking, constant public transport, benches
BYO: Not permitted
Views: Sydney CBD, gardens, fountain
Access to bathrooms: Yes

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Sydney

Lady Robinson Beach

Best for Sandwiches and a swim in Sydney's south
Parking 
Limited along the Grand Parade - or try the car park to the south
Is there shade? Yes, in park
Other facilities Four tidal pools, walking path, bike track and a foreshore reserve. The beach also has a minimal swell that makes it suitable for fishing and swimming
Can I BYO? Technically, it's illegal. So...
What's my view? That beautiful ocean
And is there toilet access? Yes

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Brighton-Le-Sands

Lane Cove National Park

Best for Eating your freshly grilled snags in a canoe (or a pedal boat) while you drift down the Lane Cove River
Parking
 The entry fee is $7 per vehicle
Is there shade:? Yes
Other facilities Barbecue area, tables & seats, kids' play area, walking tracks, bike tracks, rowboat hire. There's also a campsite with cabins available inside the park if you want to make a night (or a weekend) of it 
Can I BYO? Yes
What's my view? River and parklands
And is there toilet access? Yes

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East Ryde

Manly Dam

Parking: Yes, accessible from Condamine St, Manly Vale
Shade: Yes, 5 large undercover BBQ and picnic table gazebos that fit approx. 10 people – can be booked for $66.00
Other facilities (playgrounds, running water): Network of bush walking tracks (dogs are permitted here but not in picnic or water areas). There is an official Manly Dam Mountain Bike Track. Lake is good for swimming, kayaking, waterskiing, fishing.
BYO: Yes
Views: Expansive views of Manly Dam (huge lake) and surrounding parklands
Access to bathrooms: Yes, within 50m to 250m depending on picnic zone

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Allambie Heights

McKell Park (Darling Point)

Parking: No, very limited street parking
Shade: Some tree cover
Other facilities (playgrounds, running water): ferry wharf, sandstone sculptures, exotic garden, 
BYO: No
Views: Sydney Harbour, Harbour Bridge, heritage-listed Canonbury Cottage
Access to bathrooms: No

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Darling Point

Mrs Macquaries Chair

Best for Showing off the city to visitors
Parking
 There's metered parking on Mrs Macquaries Road (it's pricey), or ticketed at the Domain Carpark
Is there shade? Yes
Other facilities Food and beverage kiosk
Can I BYO? No. There's a bar on-site
What's my view? All the classics: the harbour, the bridge, the trees and flowers of the Botanical Gardens and the city skyline
And is there toilet access? Yes

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Sydney

Nielsen Park

Best for A very proper picnic in the midst of a historically posh area of town
Parking  
Nearby on Greycliffe Avenue
Is there shade? Some tree cover
Other facilities Public phone, enclosed harbour pool, netted swimming, picnic tables, beach kiosk/café, restaurant, walking tracks, drinking water
Can I BYO? Yes
What's my view? The harbour, the bridge and the sands of Shark Beach
And is there toilet access? Yes

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Vaucluse

North Bondi Beach

Parking: Yes, in surrounding streets (e.g. Ramsgate Ave)
Shade: Not much
Other facilities (playgrounds, running water): cafes, buses, toddler pool, coin-operated BBQs
BYO: No alcohol, no portable BBQs
Views: Bondi Beach
Access to bathrooms: Toilets and changerooms next to North Bondi SLSC

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Sydney

Pirrama Park

Best for Fun on the foreshore - and great views of Blackwattle Bay
Parking
 Try Pirrama Road, the Jones Bay Wharf Car Park or the casino opposite
Is there shade? Yes
Other facilities Kids' playground, café, floating pontoon for private boats, water access, lighting if you're there after sunset
Can I BYO? Not specified
What's my view? The waters of Sydney Harbour water and the hills of Balmain
And is there toilet access? Yes

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Darling Harbour

Wendy's Secret Garden

Best for A meal in enchanting surrounds
Parking 
Aim for the surrounding streets
Is there shade? Yes, plenty of tree cover
Other facilities Flower gardens, sculptures, table and chair area, benches
Can I BYO? Yes
What's my view? Sydney Harbour, Harbour Bridge
And is there toilet access? No

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Lavender Bay

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The Basin

This much-loved camping destination is great for a day trip and offers well-maintained barbecues in beautiful national park surrounds.

Read more
Sydney
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