posted on 17 Oct 20 | by

The humble picnic has been the hero of family get-togethers for centuries. Indulging in a picnic is about celebrating all that is good in life — the fresh air and views of the great outdoors, a copious array of food and drink, hearty laughs and conversation with family and friends. Suitable for large groups or couples, the raucous or refined; 'going for a picnic' is always a recipe for adventure and surprise. To help you prep for your perfect picnic, we've given you our top recommendations on where to roll out the rug and pick up the perfect picnic produce. Have fun and share your pics to #castlemainemaldonsurrounds. 

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Long lunch in the gardens of Buda

Visiting the historic home of the Leviny family is a must for lovers of the Arts and Crafts movement, heritage gardens and Gold Rush architecture. A gentle stroll around the grounds could be capped off with a picnic lunch on the lawn overlooking the township or listening to the aviary birds while seated at the comfortable tables in the courtyard. You are welcome to bring your own rug and picnic hamper, or for a special treat, book an exclusive Buda gourmet hamper lovingly prepared by Melanie of Fryers Teahouse. 

Open: The garden and nursery are open 7 days, 12-3pm. Please note the house is currently closed. 

Facilities: toilets, seating.

For more information and to book your hamper visit the Buda Historic Home and Garden website. 

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Mica Grange = art + gardens + food + views

Mica Grange is a 40-hectare property that comes alive each Spring as they open showcase an annual sculpture exhibition and open gardens. The sculpture exhibitions provide sculptors from Victoria and interstate the opportunity to display their work in a natural garden setting, allowing visitors to imagine how a sculpture may enhance their own garden. Located at the foothills of Mt Alexander with stunning views across the Sutton Grange valley, their gardens will surprise and delight. Whilst you can't bring your own picnic, we do highly recommend purchasing their eco-friendly food packs and retreating to a quiet nook of the garden to tantalise all the senses! 

Open: Weekends from Saturday 24 October to Sunday 29 November plus the Monday and Tuesday of Melbourne Cup weekend. Entry $7 per person (children free). Opening times - 10am to 4pm. Morning tea, light lunch, afternoon tea available plus a vast range of garden art, plants and preserves. 

Strictly no BYO picnics.

Facilities: Limited seating, accessible toilets.

Visit the Mica Grange website for more details.

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Family fun, food and frivolity in the Bot Gardens

With its lush green lawns, shaded rotundas, beautiful big trees, playground, accessible toilets, BBQs and delightful lake joanna - the Castlemaine Botanical Gardens has got to be the ultimate picnic spot that ticks all the boxes for families or friends. There is plenty of space to find your own cosy patch to kick off your shoes, throw the frisbee and make a day of it. Head across the road to The Mill where you can fill your picnic basket with Oakwood smallgoods, Sprout bakery breads and pastries, Cabosse & Feve chocolate, Long Paddock Cheese, Harvest Fruit and Veg, Shedshaker beer, ice-cream, take away coffee and light snacks from Das Kaffeehaus and Boomtown wine in a borrowed retro cooler! There's also Johnny Baker's bakery close by stocking pies, baguettes and sweet goods or Mulberry's Deli for all your cheese and goodies needed. Pack your appetite, gather your mates, and make a day of it!

Open: Gardens are open every day. The Mill opening hours can be found here. Johnny Baker is open 7am-3pm daily. 

Facilities: Accessible toilets, playground, undercover BBQ area.

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Romance at the Rock of Ages

For a romantic and peaceful place to take your special someone, keep this location up your sleeve. The Rock of Ages is located a short drive from the Maldon township atop Mt Moorul with stunning views out over the township and distant ranges. As the sun sets, find a cosy picnic perch, plate up the cheese and crackers and pour yourselves a cold glass of bubbly. Life doesn't get much better than this. Pick up some cheese and freshly baked breads from Le Sel on Main street. 

Facilities: No toilets or seating - closest are in the nearby Maldon township.

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Mid-week meet up at the Market

The weekly Castlemaine Farmer's Market is a must-do experience for your Wednesday afternoon. Local producers from all over the region converge to offer you the freshest goodies that you can savour straight away or place in an esky for later. You can pick up fresh seasonal vegetables, fruit, bread, dairy, honey, eggs, meat, wine and beer plus lots more. The market provides a safe socially distanced opportunity for you to chat to the producers themselves, find out about their production methods and know that you are getting the best quality and supporting local. Gather some friends, pack your picnic basket full of produce and tuck into it onsite or wander to a nearby scenic spot such as Kalimna Bushland, Burke and Wills Monument or Castlemaine Botanical Gardens. 

For more details check out their website and social channels. 

Open: Every Wednesday 3.30-6.00pm at Western Reserve, Forest Street. The market is also on the first Sunday of each month.

Facilities: Accessible toilets, drinking water.

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Magical setting in foodbowl

Harcourt's Oak Forest is a much-loved picnic goer and photographer wonderland. It changes with the seasons in the most exquisite ways, with vivid greens in Spring, coolness in Summer, vibrant yellows in Autumn, and an other-worldly atmosphere in Winter. This little gem is located at the foot of Mt Alexander, surrounded by farms and producers in the fertile lands of the Harcourt valley - perfectly placed to fill your basket on route. Stock up at a local winery like BlackJack Wines or Harcourt Valley Vineyard, local cidery Henry of Harcourt, order coffee and delicious food from Goldfields Track Cafe or Harcourt Produce Store or build lunch from scratch with the abundance of produce, beverages and delicacies on offer at The Little Red Apple. And if you feel like tackling a mountain bike experience before or after time on the picnic rug, you are a hop, step and jump away from La Larr Ba Gauwa Mountain Bike Park.

Open: Every day.

Facilities: Toilets.

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Taradale Mineral Springs

There's an oasis of green in the heart of Taradale that is a much-loved location for get togethers. Shrouded by mature European trees creating shade and dynamic colours as the seasons change, and dotted with indigenous trees that have been planted by community groups - the trees are the stars of the show here!  For a unique grounding to nature, you can also pour yoursel a glass of water straight from the mineral springs that are pumped from a place close to the tributory of the Coliban River. The park is connected to some well signposted scenic walking trails to the township, the nearby Enchanted Gardens, the Coliban River and viaduct. There's plenty of recreational facilities too including tennis courts, playground, BBQs and toilets. It's quite the hidden gem! 

Facilities: toilets,BBQs, rotundas, tennis courts, spring water tap, playground 

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Rotunda Park Newstead

There's somethng special about Newstead. Maybe it's the natural habitat that abounds or the creative spirit of the locals....whatever it is, you are sure to feel it too when you visit for a picnic. We suggest you find a spot in the Rotunda Park. Here you will find a natural bush setting with good examples of endangered native vegetation and big old Eucalypt trees reported to be about 120 years old. The Mia Mia creek also runs through here, attracting small mammals and abundance of birdlife. For lunch, if you don't BYO food you can grab something delicous from the main street of Newstead. After lunch, make sure you take a walk along the Loddon River which is sheltered by magnificent River Red Gums. A visit the quirky Antares Iron Art gallery/museum is a must too. Artist Roger McIndley will be all too happy to show you through his incredible collection. The Newstead Arts Hub is also a great place to see inspiring art exhibitions - the gallery is set to reopen in December. 

Facilities: toilets, picnic table, interpretation sign, BBQ, undercover area, bins, water


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Riverside at Vaughan Springs

The river is the hero of this location. Find a leafy locale and soak in the beauty and birdlife of the Loddon. You can visit the mineral springs and sample the fresh water straight from a tap. There's plenty of pretty spots to explore in all directions—take a walk up to the high river's edge for magnificent aerial views of the river and stroll the meandering bush track, or wander to the Central Springs 1km away or the Glenluce Springs 3km away. This area is also at the heart of the Goldfields Track for those that have a little more time for a decent hike.  For some fun after lunch, shoot down the big Vaughan Springs slide or dip the toes in the water. You'll fall in love with this place; make sure you allow plenty of time to aquaint yourself with all its jewels!

Facilities: Toilets, picnic tables, mineral springs, bins, slide, gazebo, BBQs