Picnic with ocean views across Wollongong & the Illawarra, what way to enjoy the South Coast of NSW. The native wildflowers are out, the sun is warm and prime picnickin’ season is upon us! Ah, the humble picnic, what is more nourishing than a slow day lazing in the grass together, soaking up some vitamin D and eating all the snacks? And with a possibly (very) hot El Nino summer on its way, now is the perfect time to get exploring.

Whether you’re looking for fun with your little ones, big ones, fur babies or even your next date, at What’s on in Wollongong, we’ve got you covered with the insider’s guide to the Top 10 Wollongong and Illawarra Picnic Spots to Explore! For special occasion catering bought to your perfect picnic spot, then check out Wollongong’s Pony & Wolf Pop Up Picnics & Events.

If you love our guide below, you will also love our ultimate local guide to the Illawarra Escarpment trails here + our local’s guide to exploring the Sea Cliff Bridge and its surrounds here.

Picnic during your visit to Bundanon

Image: Photo taken during ‘In the field artists workshops 2023’ (@intheieldartistworkshops) by @flore_vallery_radot

The Shoalhaven River at Bundanon. We may be biased, but surely there aren’t many picnics spots more picturesque than this…

Order the Artists Picnic and enjoy charcuterie, cheese, fruit and accoutrements with views of the Shoalhaven River. Picnic hampers are available to order online or in person at Ramox Cafe here that have a selection of local gourmet produce, prepared by Bundanon’s Executive Chef Doug Innes-Will. Bundanon’s new outdoor picnic tables are scattered across the property to make the most of the scenic views. Learn more about this stunning property and what’s to see and do here.

Bald Hill

Looking down on Stanwell Park from Bald Hill Lookout

Located in Stanwell Tops, the iconic Bald Hill Lookout is my pick for a mid-week date picnic. It’s a beautiful scenic drive, whether you come from the north (through the Royal National Park) or the south (over the Sea Cliff Bridge). Here you’ll be met with incredible ocean views that take in the entire coast as far as Port Kembla. Facilities include bathrooms, bench seating, an ice cream van, and the tiny Flying High Cafe.
When the wind is right the hang gliders swoop overhead – which never gets old! Uphill from the Flying High Cafe there is a secluded flat grassy meadow — all yours if you come mid-week, tres romantique! Note, on the weekends this spot becomes very crowded.

Bald Hill is not easily accessed by public transport, though buses do run from Helensburgh Station to Stanwell Tops. Leashed dogs are allowed.

Glastonbury Gardens

Escarpment views from Glastonbury Gardens, Austinmer

This sweet local spot is tucked away behind the road in Austinmer. The upper section is a flat meadow with escarpment views, enormous fig trees, a teeny-tiny playground and bathroom. The lower section has a tiered-grassed area that looks across Lawrence Hargrave Drive to the sea. The peaceful gardens have become a popular wedding spot! While there are no picnic tables or cafes, Glastonbury Gardens are very kid friendly, with lots of space to run around. Best parking is on Toxteth Ave, a residential street.

Leashed dogs are allowed. 500m along Lawrence Hargrave Drive you’ll find Sharky’s Beach — a very popular off-Leash doggie beach — so your fur babies can have their own adventure! Also, at only 900m from Austimer Station, Glastonbury Gardens is public transport accessible!

Sublime Point Lookout

Looking south from Sublime Point Lookout, Bulli Tops

Sublime Point Lookout is giving everyone on this list competition for most-jaw-dropping-coastal-views. Located in Bulli Tops and accessible from the Princess Highway, this lovely clifftop spot has everything you could want for a picnic. Free BBQs, picnic shelters, bathrooms and the Sublime Point Cafe. There are gently rolling hills of grass dotted with shady trees for you to romp around.

The lookout is the starting point of some fantastic bush walks and is also a bit of a wedding hotspot! Lots of parking and good fencing at the clifftop makes this spot very family friendly — though the public taps up here have non-potable water, so bring your own. There is no easily accessible public transport to Sublime Point, but doggies are welcome!

Byarong Park Picnic Area

Picnic tables in the shade at Byarong Park, Mount Kiera

The shady Byarong Park is tucked in Mount Kiera foothills — making it a quick-drive option from Wollongong. Birdlife is abundant in this pretty bushland, so bring your binoculars (and watch over your sausages — bush turkeys and kookaburras are a cheeky mob!).

The park has picnic tables, free BBQs, bathrooms and a nice mix of shade and sunshine — so very kid friendly. The trail head of the Mount Kiera Ring Track is found at this park too, which is a fun bush walk to add to your day. Unfortunately, pets are not allowed. This picnic spot is not easily accessible by public transport.

Stanwell Park Beach Reserve

A rainbow over the Bostin Brew Co. Kiosk, Stanwell Park Beach Reserve

Classic, iconique, home of historic hero Lawrence Hargrave — it’s my ‘hood: Stanny Park. This estate-sized parkland has what you’re looking for. Walking distance to the beach, stunning views, sprawling playground and excellent vibes. They’ve got bathrooms and picnic tables, free BBQs and a few picnic shelters (which get snapped up early on busy weekends.) There is also a sweet little creek to explore and the Bostin Brew Co. Kiosk — which serves quite delicious nosh.

Stanwell Park Beach Reserve is a seriously family friendly spot, away from busy roads and usually full of kids. It does get busy on the weekends, but the parking is still pretty good and the BBQ-party atmosphere is always welcoming. Dogs are allowed on-leash, and the north end of the beach is a timed off-Leash area for your pups to enjoy! Accessible by car via Station St, and by public transport via a 15min walk downhill from Stanwell Park Station.

Illawarra Rhododendron Gardens

Waterlilies flourish at the Illawarra Rhododendron Gardens, Mount Pleasant

Hidden in a valley under Mount Pleasant is the Illawarra Rhododendron Gardens. 13 hectares of azaleas, camellias and, you guessed it, gorgeous established Rhododendrons. All maintained by volunteers, these beautiful gardens make for a very peaceful and sweet half-day trip.

A popular spot for weddings and birthdays, the gardens are open Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday and public holidays from 10.00am to 5.00pm, for an entry fee of $5. The undercover picnic tables look out over the beautiful pond full of waterlilies. There are walking tracks through the rainforest section under the escarpment. Well worth a visit. Parking is off Parrish Ave, and no dogs are allowed.

Mount Keira Summit Park and Lookout

View from Mount Kiera Lookout

Located at the top of Mount Kiera, this land is a significant Aboriginal cultural heritage site and full of notable escarpment flora. The incredible blue views from the lookout are really unforgettable. Even my kids get impressed! There is a cute picnic area near the lookout with free BBQ’s, picnic tables, bathrooms and the Mount Kiera Kiosk (which is open from 10am.)

Lots of walking tracks start from here too, including a 15 min loop walk is totally do-able with little ones. The ‘Six Daughters of the West Wind’ sculpture is located at the south-facing lookout, behind the picnic area. This sculpture captures the significance of Mount Keira as a part of the creation story of this Country.

The park is open from 8am – 6pm. Parking is off Queen Elizabeth Drive, Mount Kiera. There is no easy public transport access. Dogs are allowed in Summit Park, but the surrounding areas and trails are all National Parks — so no pups allowed.

Flagstaff Hill

Aerial photograph of Flagstaff Hill, Wollongong

Historic Flagstaff Hill Park, like a postcard come to life! Perched on the edge of Wollongong Harbour, the sloping parklands around the famous Lighthouse offer 360 degree views of the ocean, the beaches, and the city of Wollongong. There are not a whole lot of facilities up here on the hill, besides stunner views and crashing surf. 5 minutes walk down the hill to the harbour you’ll find a very friendly playground, Levendi cafe/takeaway and public restrooms.

My kids love walking by the fishing harbour and watching the boats coming and going too. There is plenty of parking, off Endeavour Drive, though it does get busy on the weekends. In warmer months there are also wonderful swimming options at either City Beach or the harbour.

Flagstaff Hill is definitely family friendly, but also pretty date friendly? (The pretty sunset colours, the twinkling city lights…) Dogs are allowed on Leash. Flagstaff Hill is accessible by public transport via bus from North Wollongong Station. (Author’s note: we saw an actual seal on the rock shelf here last time!)

Stuart Park

Kids enjoying Stuart Park Playground, North Wollongong

This one has my kid’s vote for best playground, anywhere. Stuart Park is tucked at the north end of North Wollongong beach, via Cliff Road. The 8.6m high ‘sky tower’ has long tube slides and the extra long flying-fox is a big winner. Not to mention the many paved paths for bikes and scooters. The park is actually very accessible and inclusive too — flat ground from the carpark to the park and includes a Liberty swing (MLAK key needed) and lots of other sensory friendly play equipment.

The park itself is opposite the swanky Lagoon Seafood restaurant and right next to Puckey’s Lagoon if your little ones feel like exploring. Pretty decent parking and a few picnic tables around, though the nearest toilets are about 150m away which is a bit of a walk if you’ve got more than one kiddo to wrangle.

Wollongong Botanic Garden

Kawasaki Bridge in the Botanic Garden, Kieraville

Arguably the best classic picnic spot on this list might be the epic Wollongong Botanic Garden. Located in leafy Keiraville, the gardens are open 7am – 5pm daily and cover 27 hectares of botanic goodness. There are multiple living collections to visit, from rainforests to woodlands to desert succulents. Trails and pathways wind all around the gardens and parklands – with many little benches, picnic tables and special spots to put a picnic rug.

You can really spend a whole lazy day here, there is so much to take in. The gardens are a wonderland for little ones too, with the large duck pond is always memorable. Big love for the All Abilities fenced playground with its fantastic design and huge sandpit too, which is located right beside the carpark.

Accessibility is very good here too, with wheelchair and pram friendly pathways and accessible bathroom facilities at the Murphy Ave entrance. No pets are allowed.

While you’re out – why not add a bushwalk to your adventure?

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