Melbourne‘s weather can be quite unpredictable, oscillating between freezing rain one day and breathtaking sunshine the next.
Therefore, when those glorious, sun-drenched days finally grace us, seize the opportunity to unleash your barbecue kit.
There’s an inexplicable charm in savoring food prepared and enjoyed outdoors – it somehow elevates the flavor by at least 15 percent compared to indoor dining.
In Melbourne, we’re fortunate to boast a plethora of complimentary municipal barbecue facilities scattered throughout our parks, gardens, beaches, and various summer hotspots. Across the city, numerous scenic locales feature built-in barbecues just waiting for the sizzle of snags, whether they be meaty delights or veggie alternatives.
Fire Up Your Grill: Must-Visit Melbourne Barbecue Spots Await
1. St Kilda Beach
St Kilda stands out as one of Melbourne’s most beloved beaches, and it’s easy to see why. The shoreline hosts a variety of sports, catering to beach cricket, volleyball, and frisbee enthusiasts. The water is not only suitable for swimming but also offers opportunities for various watersports. For those seeking a delightful BBQ experience, Catani Gardens provide free barbecue facilities, making it a prime and well-frequented location to indulge in some grilling. Picture yourself on the beach in the sunshine, with a refreshing drink in one hand and a sizzling sausage in the other – could there be a more perfect way to revel in the joys of Melbourne summer?
2. Westgate Park
Unlocking the Secret of its Name: Nestled beneath the Westgate Bridge, this Port Melbourne park is a thriving wetland and nature sanctuary. Enter conveniently through Todd Road to reach the barbecue and picnic area, where you might enjoy sharing your bread rolls with the diverse bird species that inhabit Westgate Park, such as ibis, spoonbills, and pelicans. Spanning 54 hectares, the park boasts freshwater and saltwater lakes, enchanting indigenous plants, numerous walking and cycling paths, along with captivating views of the bay and city.
3. Alexandra Avenue
Immerse Yourself in Scenic Delights: Setting up the grill amid Melbourne’s city skyline, surrounded by the Yarra River, is a picture-perfect experience. Along the riverbanks, you’ll find numerous barbecue spots, many equipped with their own seating. For those seeking the closest barbecues to the city, head to Birrarung Marr. However, if you’re up for a leisurely stroll, discover charming, family-friendly spots along Alexandra Avenue between Swan Street Bridge and Morell Bridge.
4. Princes Park
While it may not be Central Park, Princes Park stands as a significant Melbourne landmark, nearly rivaling New York’s urban haven. Extending nearly two kilometers from Carlton to Brunswick, it encompasses Visy Park, the home of the Carlton Football Club. On weekends, it competes with The Tan as the preferred jogging spot in the inner city. Navigate through social cricketers and Frisbee enthusiasts to reach the public barbecues just south of Visy Park. A brief walk from there will take you to the public toilets at Princes Hill Tennis Courts.
5. Flagstaff Gardens
Perfect for impromptu barbecues. When you find yourself in the city, pick up some essentials from Vic Markets and make your way to the barbecues located on the William Street side of the gardens, near the Flagstaff Tennis Courts. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens to discover a memorial honoring Melbourne’s pioneers, established in 1871, and modern art installations.
6. Edinburgh Gardens
Edinburgh Gardens in North Fitzroy consistently earns a spot in travel guides as one of Melbourne’s premier parks, which may account for the challenge of securing a shaded spot for a leisurely lunch on a sunny Saturday afternoon. This expansive 24-hectare park features three distinct barbecue areas. You’ll find tables and chairs distributed throughout the park, or you can bring a picnic rug and try your luck in finding a shady spot. Recent additions to the gardens in the last 18 months include an all-weather table tennis table and a basketball half court.
7. Catani Gardens
Craving the delightful combination of sausages, burgers, and the invigorating sea breeze? Look no further than Catani Gardens in St Kilda West. While not the most expansive at six hectares, these gardens perch right above St Kilda Beach, with multiple entrances providing direct access to the sand. Adorned with the iconic St Kilda palm trees, the gardens boast open-air barbecues, a pathway leading to the Edwardian-style rotunda, and ample shaded areas.
8. Bundoora Park
Embark on a relaxed drive or hop on the 86 tram, heading 15 kilometers north of the city to reach Bundoora Park. Spanning 180 hectares, this park offers vast open spaces for a leisurely meal, along with four distinct sheltered picnic areas equipped with both gas and wood barbecues. Weekends tend to draw crowds, so consider arriving before or after the peak period (12pm-1.30pm) for a better chance of securing a spot. In addition to picnicking, the park boasts a heritage village, wildlife reserve, a charming children’s farm, and even a golf course.
9. Studley Park Boathouse
The renowned Studley Park Boathouse stands as a favored destination for both residents and tourists. Here, patrons can relish a delightful lunch before opting for a canoe or kayak rental to navigate the scenic Yarra River. The nearby Studley Park Picnic Area offers a tranquil setting for a barbecue, providing a peaceful retreat from the bustling crowds. Well-appointed with public barbecues, sheltered areas, and restrooms, the area offers a surprising oasis of serenity, making it hard to believe that you’re merely a 10-minute drive from the city.
10. Harmony Park
While Gaffney Street in Coburg is often recognized for its expansive homemaker centre, venture beyond the bustling Bunnings shoppers, heading north of Sydney Road, to discover Harmony Park. Renovated in 2008, the community gardens now boast the area’s premier skate park and an engaging adventure playground. The public barbecue area is sheltered by large shaded sails, and there are abundant benches near the covered sandpit. Moreover, the entire park provides complimentary wireless internet access, allowing you to update your Facebook status with one hand while flipping snags with the other.
11. Karkarook Park
Across from a Bunnings store on Warrigal Road in Heatherton lies a concealed treasure of a park. While Karkarook Park may not initially catch your eye from the exterior, once you enter, you’ll discover an environmental haven teeming with native flora and fauna. The artificial lake is a popular spot for kayaking and canoeing, and fishing enthusiasts can try their luck with rainbow trout or redfin. Runners and walkers frequent the four-kilometer path that winds around the lake, wetlands, and bushland throughout the day. An adventure playground keeps kids entertained, while several covered picnic areas, equipped with free barbecues, provide a perfect setting. Additionally, there’s ample open space for dogs to frolic and enjoy.
12. The 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk
Birdwatchers, adventurers, outdoor diners, and those checking off items from their bucket lists flock from all corners of the city to tackle the challenging ascent in the Dandenong Ranges National Park. Trying to tally the 1,000 steps while climbing becomes a daunting task, as a mix of blood, sweat, and adrenaline engages in a fierce battle for your attention. (Though, we estimate it’s closer to 770.) Alternatively, there’s a newer, adjacent track up the hill, offering a broader path for your ascent compared to the series of stone steps. Once you conquer the climb, your reward awaits: an abundance of lush picnic spots and barbecue areas nestled among the towering gum trees, providing the perfect setting to commemorate your triumphant journey with a sausage and a refreshing beverage.
Melbourne’s diverse array of parks and outdoor spaces offers something for everyone, from the scenic tranquility of Catani Gardens to the challenging ascent of the Dandenong Ranges. Whether you’re seeking a riverside barbecue, an adventurous hike, or a peaceful picnic spot, the city’s parks provide a breath of fresh air and a break from the urban hustle.
So, next time you’re yearning for a nature-filled escape, consider exploring these hidden gems and popular destinations that showcase Melbourne’s rich outdoor tapestry. Embrace the beauty, enjoy the activities, and make lasting memories in the green heart of this vibrant city.