Everyone loves a good picnic. What could be better than prolonged eating with people you love surrounded by beautiful scenery?

Here’s how to nail yours, whether you’re the picnic queen who’s spent days prepping before arranging your blanket like a still-life oil painting, or the BBQ-obsessed guy who’s finally ready to put down the tongs for a pre-made wrap in the wild. These are the best ways to become boss of the picnic game.

  • The over-prepared picnic boss

    Looking down on a picnic of olives, sun dried tomatos, crackers, bread and salads on a picnic blanket

    Last minute doesn’t mean it’s not good

    You can never be too prepared on a picnic, which is why you pre-cooked three different cuisines the night before, your “fusion burritos” wrapped meticulously like mummies. You’ve also got the fold-out seats, two different types of salt shaker (chicken salt is a must) and a backpack cricket set.

    If you’re an over-prepared picnicker, you will keep a cool-bag with some reusable crockery and a rug in your boot so you’re always ready for a spontaneous picnic. You’ll love Chowder Bay in Sydney Harbour National Park, where you’ll only need to lug your gear a short distance from your car to the waterfront picnic spot.  

     Ranger Tip: Beaches in NSW national parks are generally unpatrolled. Stay safe with our Beach safety tips 

  • The last-minute picnicker

    Picnicking, Woody Head, Bundjalung National Park

    Who doesn’t love a good picnic?

    Bundjalung National Park

    John Spencer / OEH

    -29.3653, 153.37274

    You’re already late to meet your mates when you remember a picnic is a BYO affair and pizza delivery is not an option. Not to worry, your nearest supermarket has plenty of last-minute options that you can pretend to be organised.

    Grab a kilo pack of hummus and some Turkish bread and you’ll be the most popular person at the picnic, or perhaps some grapes for a low-waste snack. Head to the deli counter for an antipasto mix that can be thrown together with some fancy salami and…bingo you’re ready for a picnic!

    Remember to bring a bag to take your rubbish home with you!

  • Is this a BBQ or a Picnic?

    BBQs can definitely be picnics.

    Smoky Cape LighthouseHat Head National Park

    Rob Mulally / OEH (2019)

    -30.92134, 153.0855

    ‘Wait, isn’t this a BBQ?’ you ask in a panic, looking despondently at your bag full of raw meat and redundant spatula.

    ‘Not again’, your mates say, with signature eye-roll.

    Some of the best picnic spots have no BBQs so be sure to check the NSW National Parks website before heading to the raw meat aisle.

    Take advantage of the BBQs at the wonderful Apple Tree picnic area in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park or if you simply can’t cope without a barbie, grill some kebabs the night before and chuck them in a wrap with some baby spinach and dip for the perfect pre-made picnic snack.

  • Vegetarian lyfe inspiring tastebuds

    Three people having a picnic in a national park

    Food and friends.

    Daniel Parsons / OEH

    You’ve spent hours lovingly smoking eggplant for your mates, only to endure three hours of taunting as the “token vegetarian”. But ultimately you emerge victorious: everyone silently agrees your dolmades were the true winner here, while the cold snags lie neglected on their sad paper plate.

    With so many vego delights on offer, it’s easy to convert your carnivorous friends. Grab one of those bulk cans of dolmades, or some baba ganoush, tzatziki and pita bread platter. In a remote picnic spot without cooking facilities your vego options will really shine. Check out the stunning Patonga Beach in Brisbane National Park fringed by bush, there’s no BBQs to be seen, but there is fishing and boating to enjoy.

    Ranger Tip: Beaches in Brisbane Water national parks are unpatrolled. Strong rips and currents may be present at Patonga or Pearl Beach – take care in the water and please supervise children at all times. Read up on beach safety.

  • The Instagram picnic queen

     

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    Mexican rugs – tick. Handmade leaf crown – tick. Your picnic is a glam affair, which should keep the insta likes flowing in until at least Wednesday. Everyone here is well aware that they can only touch the food once you’ve nailed the perfect shot.

     

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    Pre-make some simple burritos so you can spend less time arranging food and more time hanging your bunting and battery-powered fairy-lights. For a picturesque background, throw down your rug for a beachside picnic at Manly’s Collins Flat.

  • The decked out picnicker

    A family of four enjoying a picnic inDavidson Park picnic area, Garigal National Park

    Garigal National Park

    John Spencer / OEH

    You can barely conceal your excitement for your new kit, a lucrative win from the ALDI special buys catalogue (always a lottery). 

    Remember to wash everything before use and add in a few essentials: napkins and wet wipes, bin bags and aeroguard. A picnic kit makes a great birthday, Mother’s or Father’s day gift, and can be bought from most outdoor recreation stores, and some hardware stores too! 

    Showcase your wares by bringing your mates together for a waterside picnic at Davidson Park picnic area in Garigal National Park.

  • Take three for the trees

    Impromptu picnic. #winning

    Chloe Kafte

    Leave no trace’ is your mantra — Bring a couple of spare bags to collect rubbish and a zip-lock bag for small things like bottle caps. Ask friends to put their rubbish in the bag as the picnic unfolds, so there’s no need to scour the ground at the end.

    Perhaps you could suggest a ‘no plastic’ policy, and challenge your friends to bring their own containers. Or you could get everyone onboard with ‘Take 3’, the campaign to take three pieces of rubbish away whenever you visit a natural area.

    As someone who spends their weekends in nature, you understand that a national park is only as beautiful as we keep it!