Park Off

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

There are few more pleasant ways to spend a balmy spring day than with a picnic basket, stocked with delectable eats, in one of many grassy parks in and around Johannesburg. Whether it’s a quaint picnic for two or a fun-filled day out with the family, city-dwellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to parks.

Those who stay east of the city can spend a sun-filled day at Gillooly’s Farm in Bedfordview. Ornithologists and amateur bird-watchers alike will be able to spot over 50 species of birds including Grey Heron and Cattle Egret. There are picnic spots but the restaurant on site, Mrs Sippi Blues, serves a carvery each Sunday (a word of advice – don’t try take food home in a doggie bag at a buffet – it is frowned upon and people ARE watching). You’ll find the farm in Boeing Road West, Bedfordview. The park is open seven days a week and entrance is free.

Another stunning venue that allows an escape from city living is James and Ethel Gray park in Birdhaven near Melrose Arch. The park has walkways, a fair amount of parking, ablution facilities and a number of activities. From dog training to Boot Camp to obstacle courses, visitors should have few problems finding something to keep themselves entertained. Visit acrobranch.co.za for more information on the obstacle courses that are becoming popular with kids and adults.

The leafy suburb of Emmarentia is home to botanical gardens and an incredibly popular park where canoeists, pet owners, runners, cyclists and families congregate en masse on the weekends to enjoy this stunning, green landmass north of the CBD. Being a popular venue, it’s best to arrive early as parking and seated areas are a little limited. We’ve found that taking a picnic basket works best as the tea room does not have an extensive menu. There are a number of entrances - Thomas Bowler, Orange, The Braids and Olifants Roads all have access points. There is a section of the park where concerts are held, keep an eye on the press to see when these take place as it impacts on parking.

If you are not known for your culinary prowess, are pressed for time or just don’t feel like spending hours in a mall getting eats, try Dial-a-Picnic. Themed picnic baskets, meals for two, feasts for families, simple eats and “green picnics” can be ordered online. The prices vary – expect to shell out more for a High Tea than for a standard basket. For an extra fee they will personalise your order and offer various extras such as blankets, cushions and flowers. Visit www.dialapicnic.co.za for further information.

There are a number of parks not mentioned in this list including the Walter Sisula Botanical Gardens, Delta Park, Rhodes Park, The Wilds, Florida Lake and Thokoza Park in Soweto. Parks have bylaws which need to be adhered to. For example, some don’t allow animals other than guide dogs; some will allow animals on leads. Some arrange walks and tours (or have affiliated societies who do this), allow fishing (usually with a permit) and have eateries on the premises while others do not. For further information on parks, their regulations and safety tips visit www.jhbcityparks.com

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