Posted by Sara Savage
24. Dec, 2011
Edinburgh Gardens has it all. Lush greenery, a historic Rotunda, a skate park, barbecue facilities, a Bowls club and a footie oval. Okay, I’ll cut the crap and start again – Edinburgh Gardens has it all. Lush greenery (home to drunk cricketers), an historic Rotunda (notorious home to stoners), a skate park (alternative home to stoners), barbecue facilities (home to hippy gatherings), a Bowls club (home to drunk bowlers) and a footie oval (home to drunk…. you get the point). This place really is just a big ol’ booze-fest in summer, but a friendly one at that. With plenty of picnic spots and tree-cover to go around, it’s pretty easy to stay in Edinburgh gardens from beer o’clock to nightfall.
Royal Botanic Gardens
I want to like the Botanic Gardens, I do, but being inclined to support the underdog more often than not – it’s a hard labour. Truth be told, the noble resplendence of the place is just a little overwhelming. Just as Queen Victoria was ‘the grandmother of Europe’, the Botanic Gardens are the collective grandmother of the Melbourne Garden circuit. Dress in white, bring your croquet set and some vintage cheese and you’ll be ready as ever to enter the looming iron gates of this place.
If the Botanic Gardens embody the royalty of Queen Victoria, then the Fitzroy Gardens are more akin to the cordiality of Princess Diana. Both humble and majestic, the Fitzroy Gardens and its endless avenues of English Elms are a personal favourite. Although the atmosphere is considerably friendlier than some other city gardens, there is an element of tranquility that doesn’t seem fit for troops of rowdy picnickers. Instead, I’d suggest heading down here for a solo picnic. Bring a book and some delectable treats, turn your phone off and enjoy the fine company that only you can provide for yourself.
This lesser-known sanctum of the inner North is located near some damn fine company. One one side lies the quaint historical strip that is Rathdowne Village, and on the other sits Canning St (home to arguably some of the most stunning Victorian terraced houses in Melbourne). For every verdurous tree there is a family of rabid possums waiting to pounce on your viands – but if you’re willing to risk marsupial territorialist warfare, Rathdowne Park is a great spot for lazy, low-key, Sunday arvo picnics.
Being a World Heritage Site ‘n all, the only problem with the Carlton Gardens is its annoyingly close proximity to the multi-laned haunt for angry asshole-drivers that is Victoria Street. If you don’t bat an eyelid over traffic, however, the Carlton Gardens may well be for you and your potential picnic plans. With its various ponds and water features (there are three fountains!), the Carlton Gardens have a somewhat cinematic atmosphere to them, and I’ve come to notice a trend of ‘first dates’ being held in these parts. Perhaps this is why!
Oh, Treasury Gardens, how I adore you and your rows of Moreton Bay Figs. Your central position and proximity to various noisy roads are both forgiven (unlike your relative Sir Carlton Gardens), thanks to your unique layout, amazing view of Melbourne’s skyscrapers and your predilection for accommodating rallies, protests and even the odd (small) festival. Treasury Gardens, I love to picnic with you the most… but only on the weekends; for you are nothing but your eponymous quality – a treasure to be enjoyed selectively.
That Park Near Ying Thai 2 on Lygon
Small, inconspicuous and little-known on the wider picnic trail, ‘that park’ on Lygon St (down near the city end) is amazing after dusk. On a hot, sticky, summer night, there’s truly nothing better than gorging yourself on spicy Thai curry and minced pork at Ying Thai 2 then hopping across the road (and a little way north) to gorge some more. Buy some icypoles and cold beers, and take refuge in this conveniently located little gem of a park.
Reserves in the Middle of Roads
There’s a smug sort of fun to be had at picnics in the middle of the road. It’s picnicking for the boldest of us – all eyes are on you if you’re going about your picnicking habits on one of these strips. Don’t let that stop you though – most people who stare at us bold picnickers are just jealous of our secluded and exclusive picnic spots. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a walk up Drummond Street in the middle of summer until you find the middle-aged couple that put on their Sunday best and set up a dining table – complete with wine glasses, napkins and cutlery – in the middle of the road. Never has a more picturesque picnic been had, and don’t they know it.
It’s trite but true that ‘there’s no place like home’. There’s certainly no barbecue like your own, and there’s definitely no greater comfort than the convenience of a fridge for picnicking purposes (who needs Eskis anyway?). At home you can always drink the coldest brew, have access to music, initiate a costume change if necessary and, most importantly, you can take a crap in your own toilet if you shovel too many dodgy snags. But what makes a picnic at home a ‘picnic’ and not just a backyard barbie? Well – ditch your tables and chairs and you’ll find out. Picnic rugs are the new IKEA Outdoor Ensemble.