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Five Top Picnic Spots in Sydney's National Parks to Venture to This Summer

Where to while away an afternoon over snacks, drinks and perhaps a dip in a neighbouring rock pool.
By Jasmine Crittenden
February 07, 2018
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By Jasmine Crittenden
February 07, 2018
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When you don't have time for an overnight getaway, but desperately need a minute's break from traffic and deadlines, then heading to one of Sydney's vast, lush parks for a picnic is the perfect remedy. Given that Sydney and its surrounds are home to dozens of national parks, you're never far from an idyllic forest clearing, a sheltered beach, a rock pool or a lookout, where you can spread out your blanket, unwrap your cucumber sandwiches and crack open a bottle of bubbly (or sparkling water — make sure to check those BYO rules). And after your picnic, clean up any mess you may make — always leave the park how you met it (or even better).

We've spent hours lazing about, eating and drinking in various national parks across the metro area to bring you a handpicked selection of the very finest picnic spots. Some are reachable only by boat, some by walking and some by car. However you travel, be safe in the knowledge that after an afternoon spent kicking back, immersed in trees, water and sunshine, you'll feel a whole lot less stressed.

CLARK ISLAND, SYDNEY HARBOUR NATIONAL PARK

Turn your picnic into a Robinson Crusoe-style escapade with a trip to Clark Island. Its hectare of harbour-encircled, inviting grass and shady trees lie just off Darling Point. There are footpaths to explore and mesmerising views of the Harbour in every direction. To get here, you'll need to book a water taxi or, if you're after some extra adventure, paddle your own kayak — just make sure you slip, slop, slap before you get out in the water. The island gets its name from Lieutenant Ralph Clark who, in the 1780s, picked it out as a top spot to cultivate a veggie patch. Keen to get to know some more of Sydney's islands? Check out our handy guide.

Note: all vessels (including kayaks) need to pay a $7 landing fee per person by calling 13000 PARKS. Also, don't forget to bring plenty of water with you.

David Finn.

THE BASIN, KU-RING-GAI CHASE NATIONAL PARK

Another picnic spot that's best reached by boat is The Basin on the western shores of Pittwater in Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park. You can catch a ferry from Palm Beach, but if you're looking to be a bit active, take the 2.8-kilometre Basin Track, which starts just off West Head Road. For swimmers, there's a protected beach and lagoon where you can snorkel through seagrass, meeting seahorses, starfish, bream and leather jackets. Meanwhile, walkers might want to do some adventuring along the Bairne Track. Should you find yourself having too good a time, stay overnight in The Basin Campground.

BURRAWANG REACH, GEORGES RIVER NATIONAL PARK

Pack your kayak; this pretty spot along the Georges River in the Sutherland Shire is ideal for a paddle. In fact, you can arrive by boat or drive to the nearby car park. The roomy, grassy picnic area provides stacks of space, and there are loads of large, shady trees to keep you sheltered on hot days. In between feasting, go exploring on the Ridge Walking Track. Along the 1.6 kilometre track you'll be able to take in some impressive rock formations and river views before you reach another picnic area, Cattle Duffers. There's also quite a few fish around, so you could think about taking your rod and catching your picnic yourself.

JINGGA WATERHOLE, DHARAWAL NATIONAL PARK

You'll need sturdy legs for this one; it's a steep, one-kilometre walk to Jingga Waterhole, a short trip from Campbelltown. However, the effort will be well rewarded, as you'll be picnicking alongside a freshwater rock pool, complete with waterfall — in Dharawal language, jingga is an adjective that means 'fresh' when referring to water. Several threatened species, including potoroos, have discovered the health-giving properties of this spot, so keep a lookout for them. Even though the water is fresh, drinking it isn't a great idea; be sure to carry in plenty. Also, always make sure to check for park alerts before heading out for a walk or swim.

DAVIDSON PARK, GARIGAL NATIONAL PARK

Davidson Park lies on the banks of Middle Harbour Creek, a pretty waterway that travels north from Mona Vale Road to join Middle Harbour. Here, it flows through Garigal National Park, near Roseville Bridge in Forestville. There's a car park, tons of space for picnic blankets and croquet matches, plenty of leafy eucalypts and free barbecues. When you're done eating, go for a paddle or take a stroll. If you're fit and have half a day to spare, conquer the 6.8-kilometre-long Natural Bridge to Davidson Walk or the easier 5.2-kilometre trail to Stepping Stone Crossing.

Most of these picnic parks charge an entry fee, so ensure you've brought your wallet. Also, make sure you plan ahead for any trip to the national parks to ensure you have the best and safest experience. Check for park alerts, take care along any tracks as not all are signposted and there may be fragile native plant and animal communities nearby and ensure you bring proper gear and plenty of water. Find more information on park safety here

For more inspiration to get outside and explore, visit National Parks NSW and check out their Instagram @nswnationalparks.

Published on February 07, 2018 by Jasmine Crittenden

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