THE Aussies take their outdoor eating very seriously. Soggy sandwiches, gnarled noodles, or a lukewarm can of cola on the run just won’t do. And it’s not just the ubiquitous barbecue.
Precision picnicking is a national pastime. You’ll stand out as a tourist on a spare patch of grass any Sydney Saturday if you’re minus a portable picnic table, lacking a wide selection of delicatessen delights and (heaven forbid) without an adequate supply of chilled beverages.
So take an “esky” (a very large cooler box), an appetite and a designer blanket, and head to these top alfresco hangouts.
Royal Botanic Gardens
Duck into exclusive department store David Jones’ Food Hall for posh nosh on your way to the city’s most pristine parkland.
Just get there early to pitch your patch. If you luck out on the weather, Art Gallery of NSW, which has lauded international collections on view, is close by.
This luscious expanse is popular with families. For food and decent coffee, pop to Queen St Deli in nearby Woollahra then relax watching the ducks on the lake, hire a bicycle for fun, or even hop on a horse at the nearby stables.
Or sit back with a sandwich and watch the elite athletes do their circuits in Sydney style. If it rains, Fox Studios Cinemas are across the road.
Take the scenic ferry from Circular Quay and head to this iconic spot. Don’t worry about self catering; follow the locals’ lead and buy takeaway fish and chips or a lobster salad when you get to Doyle’s Restaurant takeaway at the shore.
Hang out on the grass with a chilled bottle of wine or dip your toes in the harbour and watch the yachts bob by the billionaires’ mansions. If the heavens open, head into the nearby hotel bar.
Blackwattle Bay Park
You won’t see this in the guide books but head here for stunning city views and a relaxed vibe. Call in at Sydney Fish Market for a seafood smorgasbord or super fresh sushi then watch the local dog walkers meander against the city backdrop.
If the mood takes you or the weather disappoints, then head to Glebe’s cosmopolitan cafe strip which is also home to some of Sydney’s best bookshops.
A quintessential Sydney experience, this outdoor cinema is nestled in the Bondi corner of Centennial Park. Films roll in the summer months only, and you can book tickets online well in advance to view recent blockbusters and art house classics.
You can even go upmarket and hire a bean bed. There’s a food truck and bar for comestibles, or go organic at nearby trendy whole food store About Life. If it rains, well, it rains. Take an umbrella or make a dash for the bustling bars on nearby Oxford Street.