Throwing out a blanket and enjoying a gourmet spread is one of the simple pleasures to be enjoyed in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges. Get away from it all with our suggestions as to the region’s best places to picnic. With help from our Facebook friends who provided us with more than 50 great spots, we have come up with a list of their most popular recommendations.

Badger Weir, Healesville
Top of the list was Badger Weir as the most recommended favourite picnic spots for our readers. Badger Weir in Healesville has been a water catchment area for Melbourne for 100 years or more. It is blessed with tall mountain forests, a diverse range of bird life and there are several easy walks to take from the main picnic area. Landscaped grounds around the picnic area and rotundas make it a great destination. Badger Weir is 7km from Healesville. Travel through Lilydale to Healesville. Take Don Road and then left at Badger Weir Road to the entrance to the park.
Visit the website for more information.

National Rhododendron Gardens, Olinda
A long time favourite for picnickers which also was second on the list with our readers is the National Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda. At all times of the year this regional treasure is a delight. In spring enjoy a host of blooming bulbs, and of course during the warmer months you will be captivated by the spectacular blooms of the many varied rhododendron trees. There are many places to picnic in the gardens and plenty of room to find the perfect spot to enjoy the scenery in peace. The National Rhododendron Gardens are open from 10am to 5pm daily except Christmas day and entry is free. The gardens are located at The Georgian Road, Olinda.
Visit the website for more information.

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Upper Yarra Reservoir Park, Warburton East
Third on the list was the Upper Yarra Dam. This is the upper most part of the Yarra River accessible to the public and its eucalypt forests surrounding the picnic area are a highlight. Another highlight of this area is that you can pick up a basketful of gourmet delights on your way through the mountain town of Warburton. After lunch enjoy a self guided tour through a charming fern gully and make your way to the many lookouts to enjoy the incredible views. Picnic facilities include a covered barbecue area, plenty of open lawn and shady areas to stretch out and catch a snooze on a warm afternoon. Gates to the park open daily at 8.30am and close at 5pm. The dam reserve is about 24km east of Warburton along Woods Point Road. Visit the website for more information.

Dee Road Picnic Area, Millgrove
Also in the Upper Yarra Valley is the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail which is a step-on step-off walking track from Don Valley to East Warburton. Our readers recommended a couple of spots along the way but the most popular was the Dee Road Picnic Area at Millgrove. Parks Victoria advise that the path down to the picnic area is not suitable for wheelchairs or prams. The Dee Road picnic area has rudimentary picnic tables and an information shelter, but the views are glorious over the surrounding ranges.
Visit the website for more information.

Redwood Forest, Warburton East
In the 1930s nearly 1500 Californian Redwood Trees were planted by the former Melbourne Board of Works on a site in East Warburton. Today they are a stunning place to visit and photograph. The trees range in size, the largest of which provide an awesome spectacle and a place to relax. Nearby is the Little Peninsula Tunnel picnic area. The tunnel was created to change the course of the Yarra River during the gold mining era so prospectors could access a dry river bed to collect gold. The Big Peninsula Tunnel is nearby and both areas have an area to picnic and provide easy walks from the carpark. Find access to these areas from the Upper Yarra Reservoir Road. Other favoured picnic areas include the Mason Falls Picnic Area at Kinglake. Take Sugarloaf Road in the Kinglake National Park to discover how the area has recovered after the Black Saturday Bushfires.
Visit the website for more information.

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RJ Hamer Arboretum, Olinda
Numerous substantial trees at the RJ Hamer Arboretum make this park a favourite with locals seeking respite. There are more than 150 species of native and exotic trees planted in the Arboretum. There are also numerous walking tracks through the trees and marvellous views of the Warburton Ranges. It is said that the Arboretum is at its best in the summer months, but at all times of the year there is texture and colour to be enjoyed. The trees were planted in the late 1970s in honour of Victoria’s premier of the time Sir Rupert Hamer. It is free to enter the park and it can be found on Chalet Road/Woolrich Road in Olinda.
Visit the website for more information.

Birdsland Reserve, Belgrave South
The 28ha site known as Birdsland Reserve is a well regarded area for its concentration of many native birds and animals and is a great spot to picnic. A number of large shady trees feature in the natural bushland setting and birdspotting of waterfowl on the collection of lakes, rivers and creeks is a highlight. Picnic tables and an education centre are also onsite to be enjoyed. Birdsland is located at Mount Morton Road in Belgrave South.
Visit the website for more information.
*Before heading out to these areas please be aware of the local conditions and any fire restrictions that may be in place.


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