The best spots to picnic in the Geelong region

The best spots to picnic in the Geelong region

Words by Bethany Long

Pull out your finest plasticware and throw down a rug.

Alright, so amidst all the chaos and social distancing of 2020, I made a wonderful rediscovery. A rediscovery that is definitely one of the best things for me to come out of the abysmal year that was 2020. That rediscovery was the humble picnic.


I love eating. And I love the outdoors. And seeing my friends. So, while restaurant restrictions were in place and bookings were hard to come by, picnics were our go-to.

Bonus? With the warmer days well and truly here and last-minute group bookings almost impossible to come by, a picnic is the ultimate solution!

Plus, (humble brag alert – feel free to skip) picnics remind me so vividly of afternoons spent eating in parks across Europe, and evening on the banks of the Seine and the Thames. As a traveller on a strict budget, a cheap baguette and some cheese made a gorgeous lunch in France. And while a Pimms in the park with friends on a sunny London afternoon feels utterly inconceivable right now, luckily we have some amazing picnic spots in our backyard (and in a pinch, your own backyard can work too!).

So where are the best spots to picnic in the Geelong region? We’ve tested them out and we’ve got you covered!

Eastern Beach Hill

Perhaps the most iconic picnic spot in Geelong, the hill at Eastern Beach is known for painting our skies with gorgeous summer sunsets making it the perfect spot picnic destination.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to catch some rays while catching up with the girls or for a romantic date night spot, the hill is a classic spot for a reason!

Equally as perfect with a DIY cheese platter and prosecco, or a takeaway pizza (depending on where you’re coming from you’ll drive right past Pizzeria Adamo), this is one of those places that truly captures Geelong.

Plus, if you count people-watching as a hobby (who doesn’t?) the high vantage point offers sweeping views for you to suss other people’s picnic setups.

Bonus? All the council parks and beaches in the City of Greater Geelong jurisdiction allow alcohol during sunlight hours. So that sunset tipple is totally legal!

Balyang Sanctuary

My most frequented picnic spot, Balyang Sanctuary is truly an underrated oasis. With gorgeous ponds home to some picture-perfect ducks, gorgeously green lawns and quintessentially-Aussie gum trees, there’s a definitely something calming about the breeze at Balyang.

As restrictions eased, I spent many a Saturday afternoon here with my friends (remember when we couldn’t hang out indoors?!) with a cheese platter, picnic rug and bottle of wine – all ready to dissect the weeks just past. It became such a simple pleasure, and as the weather warmed, a pleasure that only got sweeter.

With such a large area, there’s plenty of spots that are secluded if you’re wanting a little more privacy, but plenty of open space too if you’re bringing the footy! Such a versatile spot that’s just that little bit quieter than Buckley Falls and Barwon Valley Park.

Barwon Heads

At the other end of the river, Barwon Heads offers the best of both river and beach picnicking (because if you haven’t figured it out by now, apparently I love eating near bodies of water!).

As a kid, I have vivid memories of picnicking on a Sunday with my family at what is apparently called Frank Ellis Reserve. While my parents would gather around the BBQ, my siblings and I would create forts in the shrubbery, climb trees and build sandcastles.

To this day, it’s such a chilled place to pull up a picnic rug. Perfect for hotter days, the mouth of the river is perfect for a lazy dip to refresh yourself.

Bonus, if you’re getting thirsty as the sun goes down and feel like kicking on, it’s only a hop, skip and jump away from the Barwon Heads pub.

Botanic Gardens

Is there such a thing as a breakfast picnic? Because I wholeheartedly believe that should be a thing. And if it is, the Botanic Gardens are THE perfect spot for it. With The Teahouse serving up great coffee, all you need to do is find a quiet place to enjoy your morning cup of joe and perhaps a pastry and some fresh fruit.

Looking around at the perfectly curated plants at the Botanic Gardens is so meditative to me, and the perfect peaceful way to start your day. It’s truly like being in an outdoor art gallery – and similarly to an art gallery, people tend to be on the quieter side, so if that’s your vibe this is definitely the place for you.

The Hill at Cosy Corner

If you love the idea of a beach picnic, but the thought of sand in your grapes (and then in between your teeth) makes your skin crawl the hill at Cosy Corner (or the hill at Fisherman’s or the Surf beach) provides the perfect grassy compromise.

While all options are great (and let’s be honest all views of the ocean are good views!), my favourite is the hill at Cosy Corner. Why? Simply, for the ease of grabbing some takeaway (fish and chips from Fishos Torquay always go down well) from across the Esplanade and setting up and settling in. The perfect option for balmy nights when a twilight swim is not 100% on the cards, but it’s not completely off them either.

Just remember, unlike the City of Greater Geelong, the Surfcoast Shire does not permit alcoholic bevvies at its beaches and parks any time of day!

You Yangs Picnic Ground

The You Yangs’ distinctive and highly recognisable granite peaks can be seen between Melbourne and Geelong. This regional park offers magnificent views, birdlife, rock-climbing and abseiling, bushwalks and of course perfect positionings for picnics. There are a multitude of picnic spots/grounds to choose from with gas barbecues, picnic tables, barbecue shelter and toilet blocks.

Find out more here.

Barwon River & Buckley Falls

Pretty much the whole length of the Barwon River offers scenic spots to set down your blanket and unwrap those treats. However, there are a few that are just that little bit extra special.

Head up to the river right near where the Queens Park Bridge is in Highton and you’ll find a break of pond of sorts where lily pads flourish and birds do their thang. Straight out of the Notebook!

Better yet, Buckley Falls is something a little bit different, though prepare to be propped on a rock rather than lying back on a lush section of grass.

Eastern Park PlayGround

Located in the heart of the Geelong’s Eastern Park – adjacent to the beautiful Geelong Botanic Gardens – the Geelong Play Space provides stunning views over Corio Bay and is a favourite for family and friends get-togethers.

You can often see groups of chairs set up for a big picnic lunch, or if you’re lucky you’ll score one of the picnic tables. BBQ’s available

Rippleside Park

Rippleside Park is a beautiful foreshore reserve that is home to the Geelong Community Adventure Playground. With stunning beach views and wide amounts of open space, you couldn’t really ask for much better!

The well-utilised park has equipment for all ages and abilities, along with extensive BBQ facilities.

Johnstone Park

Johnstone Park sits on the western edge of our city centre and was once a swamp and later a dam. It became a park in 1872 and today it is tranquil sloping parkland with lush palm trees and an ideal escape from the city.

A forgotten gem, this is the perfect place for a picnic when you don’t want to venture too far from the CBD – and still be within walking distance to ice cream.

Sit down and relax, soak in the peaceful park, sit under the palm trees, and enjoy a few minutes of quiet.

Looking for a spread to accompany you? Check out our top 10 picks for the best grazing boxes available across the region.