Guest Goddess Ros Reines heads out and tests every picnic location from Bondi Beach to Bronte, to serve up the perfect picnic plan.
2022 Year of the Picnic
The very moment it was decreed that we should go forth and picnic (for Covid’s sake), almost overnight there was a gridlock of eager diners heading to their favourite destinations, rugs neatly folded over one arm and a burgeoning basket over the other. They were toting Eskies, which are suddenly chic again.
Meanwhile all across the city, chickens were running scared, digging in their chicken feet and refusing to come out of their coops. They had seen the gleam in the eyes of all those picnic planners because, well, chook goes with everything. No wonder their feathers were seriously ruffled. First it was that craze for Korean fried chicken and now this.
Who Picnics Where In Bondi Beach?
It wasn’t long before Sydney’s most Insta-worthy spots resembled a Moonie wedding with everyone spreading out their feasts at the same time. It’s like they’d all been brainwashed in rosé. However picnicking really is the new way to eat out. It’s a grounded version of the long lunch.
Right now in the Sydney beachside suburb of Bondi it’s peak picnic time, thanks to its natural beauty (eat your heart Édouard Manet), and its huge demographic of Bondi hipsters, who have basically been waiting for this moment all of their lives. Picnics are the new hippie happenings.
During sunny weekends, the upper reaches of North Bondi’s famous Grassy Knoll (Biddigal Reserve) are so populated with picnickers you would hardly know there was grass there at all. They should rename it Blanket Knoll.
There’s a different crowd down at North Bondi Park where dozens of picnic tables seem to have sprung up almost overnight adjacent to the sea. Unfortunately, it feels like cheating when you unload on a picnic table, as you’re doing the abridged version. It’s like reading the CliffsNotes instead of the classic novel.
Where To Find the Most Prized Picnic Supplies
Bondi locals really have turned picnicking into an art form, thanks to the proximity of food halls like Harris Farm Market Bondi Beach below Hall Street where it’s possible to purchase everything from baguettes to sliced meats and seafood, pre-packed salads, photogenic fruits, pastries and chocolates.
Of course, for the picnic purists, Russkis Deli at 131 Bondi Road has Moscow pelmeni (Russian dumplings), pierogis, Polish sausages, Hungarian speck and tins of Siberian caviar. Now we’re picknicking.
The `burb’s’ latest innovation is a posh takeaway, Fsh Mkt close to the corner of Warner’s Avenue and Glenayr Street, which features a BYOP (build your own picnic) bar, allowing diners to curate their spreads with oysters, prawns and house-made taramasalata. It’s also conveniently right behind a park: not a particularly art directed expanse of greenery but it does the job.
Branching Out – Treasured Picnic Spots in Nearby Bondi & Bronte
Perhaps if you’re after a bucolic setting, you should choose Marks Park on the headland overlooking the sea on the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk. Actually picnicking on the rocks below the walk is a little hard core, but you could also consider other spots off the beaten track including the pretty Thomas Hogan Reserve close to Old South Head Road or venture towards Wellington Street where Dickson Reserve boasts shady She-oaks and Fig Trees on a steep slope. (Unfortunately the upper area of the park also has hardstand with rings for casual basketball and netball, so a straying basketball could knock that curated sandwich right out of your hand).
For a more chilled setting, walk further up Wellington Street to the public pathway, which leads to Ocean Street. As you walk through the gate on the right you will find a soft, grassy area that’s perfect for picnicking in relative peace.
The Waverley Woollahra Art School Shared Garden off Bondi Road is a tiny oasis of green with seating. It’s also set back from the traffic and worth considering if you are just picnicking with one other person.
Nearby Waverley Park is a better option for large, noisy groups with lots of spots to discover beneath shady trees and on soft, velvety grass. There’s no ocean view but you are in close proximity to another valuable picnicking asset – François Artisan Baker at 91 Bondi Road is open all weekend and has a delightful array of cakes, tartes and they also do takeaway coffee. This is of course, the perfect way to end the perfect Bondi picnic.