Boroondara’s favourite picnic spots

three people picnicking in a park

We asked locals for their favourite place to lay down a blanket and a basket in Boroondara. Read on for some of our better-known parks and gardens, and some hidden gems too.

Central Gardens, aka Rocket Park, is my go-to local picnic spot. There’s plenty of shady space, lush green grass, and it’s so close to Glenferrie Rd restaurants for your takeaway picnic needs. – Jennifer, Hawthorn

My favourite spot is Bellbird Park in Kew. It has magnificent views of the city, an off-leash area for dogs, and undercover barbecues. It only has two benches, so take chairs or a rug. It’s a mix of open grassland and native bush with the main attraction being the fruit bats camping along the river. Follow the path north to see the colony. – Jack, Kew 

When we were kids we used to walk through Canterbury Gardens on the way home from school, when there were tadpoles in the old creek. There are lovely old trees – oaks and cypresses – pretty gardens and beautiful sloping lawns where everybody sits. The gardens are very much a part of Canterbury and its history. When lockdown was on, so many people were there – it was great to see local parks and gardens appreciated by everyone. – Lorri, Canterbury 

Any of the parks that host a Summer in the Park event are great for a picnic – it’s the best way to enjoy the show on a summer evening. – Samuel, Camberwell 

My favourite spot is Alexandra Gardens in Kew. It’s a serene spot with beautiful flower beds, lawns and comfortable seating to enjoy a picnic. During the COVID-19 lockdowns, it was the only place within 5km where my best friend and I could meet, and we enjoyed many walks there together. – Christine, East Melbourne 

I really like Andrews Reserve, in Kew, for a picnic under leafy trees. It’s accessible by walking over the Gipps Street Bridge or from Yarra Boulevard. There’s a playground and the path north leads to some lovely views of the Abbotsford Convent. – Justine, Kew

All the parks in Ashburton are beautiful and well taken care of. I love the Anniversary Trail and parkland along Gardiners Creek. My fur babies thoroughly enjoy their walks and play time there. – Homaira, Ashburton

Fordham Gardens in Camberwell is my favourite spot. There’s lots of greenery and colour, and it has a beautiful pond. We often take our nine-month-old puppy for walks there, as it’s so safe. – Sharon, Camberwell 

Canterbury Sportsground is always a winner with our three boys with the new playground, oval to run on, tennis club and world-famous climbing tree. – Nick, Surrey Hills

Fairview Park in Hawthorn is my pick for a picnic. I feel relaxed there and safe. Being surrounded by hills and away from the road makes you feel secluded in a lovely peaceful space beside the river. – Sophie, (formerly) Hawthorn

Time out in our great outdoors

From riverside reserves to hidden gems just around the corner from home, Boroondara’s beautiful parks and gardens have been a lifeline during the pandemic. Try these highlights for a play or a wander this summer.

Maranoa Botanic Gardens, Balwyn 

This is the perfect place to unwind. Maranoa Botanic Gardens have some of Australia’s most fascinating plants, including flora you would typically find in a rainforest. Follow the circuit path, or sit back and immerse yourself in the beautiful surrounds and the sounds of local birdlife. 

Hays Paddock, Kew East 

If you’re looking for a place to keep the kids entertained, head to Hays Paddock. The large, all-abilities playground has play equipment for all children to enjoy. Tables and seating set in bushland together with barbecue facilities make it the perfect place to gather with family and friends. 

A man jogging through a park in Boroondara

Greythorn Park, Balwyn North 

Once owned by British merchant Henry Elgar, a wildlife sanctuary was established at Greythorn Park in 1939 with animals including koalas, emus and Tasmanian devils. Later, an animal circus with monkeys, dogs and ponies was also set up. These days kids can ride on a kangaroo or a wombat at the playground, and you can check out the interpretive signs to learn more about the park’s unusual history. 

Fairview Park, Hawthorn 

Covering more than 5ha, Fairview Park offers a generous off-leash area for dog lovers and their four-legged friends. The park, set beside the Yarra River, is a great place to relax, walk or picnic among the tall gum trees and plentiful birdlife. 

South Surrey Park, Surrey Hills 

Forming the northern section of a green corridor that links Surrey Hills to Lynden Park in Camberwell, this park is an ideal place to walk and spot the birds and wildlife it attracts following its extensive indigenous revegetation. It’s also a lovely spot for a picnic on the grassy lawns, or take the kids to enjoy the native animal-themed playground.

You might like to try these lesser-known spots too: 

  • Morang Road Reserve, Hawthorn, has a large playground and beautiful rockery gardens. 
  • Murdoch and Fairmont Avenue Reserves, Camberwell, are great linear parks with significant eucalypts. 
  • Foley Reserve, Kew, has a playground and plenty of space and shade. 
  • Mont Albert Park, Balwyn, is a big park with lots of shade. 
  • Scotsburn Street Reserve North, Hawthorn, overlooks the Yarra River. 
  • Brinsley Road Reserve, Camberwell, is a hidden gem with old trees and lots of space. 
  • Matlock Street Reserve, Canterbury, has a playground and gardens. 
  • Gordon Barnard Reserve, Balwyn North, has a rain garden and a new fenced dog-play area.