It's that time of year again! Our shoulders are browning, ice cream between meals is a must and the water beckons …
In true Australian style, couples, friends and families are heading for the High Country in search of the tastiest local produce to fill their picnic baskets, but of course, you don't have to look far. The real challenge is finding the perfect picnic spot. When the sun is shining, making the most of the brilliant rivers, streams and lakes is non-negotiable!
Be it for a quiet, romantic treat, an afternoon grazing session with friends or a bite and a dip with the kids, we have you covered with the top picnic spots to beat the heat.
Top picnic spots by the water
Lake King is a gorgeous spot for all ages - scenic, conveniently located with all the essentials. If you have kids, head straight to Apex Playground to enjoy the facilities, including toilets, barbecue and even a skate park!
Need to stretch your legs? Take the short Arthur Mann Scenic Walk and keep your eyes peeled for the flourishing local bird life. Keen to throw a line in? Please do! The lake is teeming with yellow belly and redfin perch.
Complete with splash park, waterslide, lifeguards during summer (and the ice-creamery just up the road!), the Bright River Pool is a haven for young families.
Located in Centenary Park, Gavan Street, Bright, the river pool is the result of damming the Ovens River to create an ever-cool natural water hole in the river. On any hot day, you'll be met with a scene of toddlers playing in the sand by the water, kids reveling in the splash park's water cannons, dumping bucket and mist rings, and couples strolling the boardwalk.
Lake Buffalo has two fantastic options of designated swimming areas to choose from. The first is located at the recreation area you'll see as you approach the eastern shore of the lake, featuring a boat ramp, barbecues, picnic tables and toilets. With a view of the dam wall and rolling hills, you can't go wrong with this one.
If you're after something a little quieter and more idyllic, drive across the dam wall and up to the Marshall's Ridge Recreation Area on the western shore of the lake. This spot has clearer water and views, with lawn leading to the water's edge - heaven!
Just 20 minutes from Mansfield, Picnic Point sits on the shore of the beautiful Lake Eildon (just punch it into Maps to find your way!)
The perfect place to set up for the day, this spot features shelter, barbecue, toilets and a playground. Looking for things to do? Lake Eildon lends itself to boating, sailing, water-skiing, kayaking, canoeing and more, with the surrounding bushland teeming with wildlife just waiting to be spotted!
You wouldn't believe such a pretty picnic spot was once an open cut sluice operation during the gold rush! But the gorgeous Lake Sambell has had a century to grow and settle, now offering one of the most picturesque venue for water and boating activities in Beechworth.
Located just a short walk from the town centre off McConville Ave, this spot offers extensive walking trails (including The Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail) and a playground at Sandy Beach. Facilities include two electric barbecues, picnic tables and seating.
The Tallangatta Foreshore is comprised of lush, green grassy knolls, trees, a splash park, barbecues, sandpit and - no self respecting swimming area would be without it - a large silver pelican!
To get there, turn off the main drag (Towong Street) and onto Lakeside Drive. From here it's up to you to eye your perfect spot.
With seemingly endless waters, the Tallangatta Foreshore is your oyster!
Just a ten minute drive north of Beechworth (head towards Wodonga and look out for signs) you will find the romantic Woolshed Falls.
This little gem attracts nature lovers and history buffs alike thanks to its rich gold mining history (no pun intended), but it's the feast for the eyes that really draws people in. Be it from the observation deck, the extensive rock pools at the top of the falls or the deep waters below, the falls are a sight to behold.
The top of the falls among the rockpools is the best place to keep cool, get a bite in and enjoy the scenery, but be careful on the rocks - sturdy footwear is advised.
Tell me you didn't just have Coldplay's Paradise ringing in your head just now! If you don't, you will once you get your first glimpse of this dazzling oasis buried deep in the King Valley.
Paradise Falls is located in the Alpine National park outside of Cheshunt. To get there from Cheshunt, take Rose River Road, turn right onto Paradise Falls Road and keep going (the last 11 kms to the falls is gravel but in good condition). Once you arrive, you'll be met with picnic facilities at the car park and from here, walk about 500m to the viewing platform where you will see for yourself why this waterfall was labelled "paradise".
The massive expanse that is the Dartmouth Dam is an extraordinary sight; one you'll need at least a lunch break to take in!
Drive across the Dartmouth Dam Wall (from Dartmouth) and you'll easily find the picnic area - the perfect vantage point to wonder at the wall.
With all the facilities you'll need for a stress free picnic, why not stretch the day out - try your luck and throw a line in? Brown and rainbow trout are famous in these parts (between the locals!)
When you think Falls Creek, you generally think snowboarding and mulled wine, right? Well prepare yourself - Falls Creek is also home to the crystal clear waters of Rocky Valley Lake where you can swim, boat, fish, kayak and more without a snowflake to be seen!
This lake is truly something special. Crystalline, pure and always refreshing - like heaven's very own infinity pool! The only thing missing is a heavenly spread, so be sure to raid every store on the way and gather as much gorge-worthy local produce as possible!
Lake Benalla is an easy, gorgeous spot for a family picnic with so much to see (so be sure to go for a walk around the 4.35km track). You'll pass exquisitely manicured botanical gardens, remnant river red gum forest, the indigenous community garden to Jaycee Island with its magnificent towering Moreton bay figs and exotic Bunya Bunya pines.
If you're lucky, you'll also spot a platypus or perhaps one of the three species of turtle that live in the lake - just don't feed them (that tasty picnic is all for you!)
Map it out for me
Hungry for more?
For those loving the summer vibes, a little preview of some High Country favourites with outdoor dining!
For the most passionate “muscateers” – learn how the world leaders in muscat differentiate and rank their wines.