Barbecues are intrinsic to the Australian culture in a way that almost makes them a national treasure.
A time for family and friends to get together, whether in celebration or just because, barbecues allow ordinary, everyday “blokes” to become the “Chefs de Cuisine” of their own outdoor kitchen. The Aussie barbecue chef is hard to miss: barbecue tongs in one hand and a stubbie of beer in the other, and won’t hesitate to explain (and change his or her mind over) what “medium-rare” actually means, or share advice on what the best sauces and dips are for the particular piece of meat they are cooking.
We Aussies barbecue everything. From steaks and snags (sausages), chicken wings, legs, breast, and any other parts of the bird, to fish, bacon, kangaroo (yep, we cook and eat our national animal), or even vegetables — we throw it all on the barbie, mate.
In this piece I’ve chosen a few public barbecue spots that are quite amazing, and definitely worthy of a look in from any true barbecue enthusiasts out there.
Airlie Beach Lagoon, Airlie Beach, Queensland:
Airlie Beach is considered the doorway to the Whitsunday Islands, which lie in the famous Great Barrier Reef. Airlie Beach Lagoon is a manmade lagoon built in a magnificent spot overlooking aqua-blue waters that lead to the Reef. And to top it off, the weather at Airlie beach is just about always perfect.
The only thing that might make it better is being able to cook a few slabs of meat — or for the vegetarians among us, a nice eggplant, tomato, or mushroom — on an easily accessible barbecue, that costs absolutely nothing to run or hire.
Well, fortunately for us, there are several free-to-use, public barbecues located right on Airlie Beach Lagoon. If you ever have the chance, this is a special spot that should make it onto any barbecue fanatic’s bucket list.
The Glass House Mountains, Sunshine Coast, Queensland:
It’s time to step away from the ocean for a moment. There are other awesome places to have barbecues in Australia.
The Glass House Mountain ranges are lush, beautiful, and quite unique in that they are made up of many small, medium, and challenging standalone peaks. They are listed as a landscape of national significance on both the Queensland and National Heritage Register.
Located about an hour north of Brisbane, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the Glass House Mountains offer a fantastic scenic view (for those who like that sort of thing) as well as the opportunity to fire up a great barbecue. And yes, there are free, completely accessible public barbecues located in the Glass House Mountains National Park; hiking can be pretty tough, but throw some mind-blowing scenery together with a barbecue and it makes for a much more desirable trek!
Middle Head Precinct, Mosman, New South Wales:
This is a brilliant little spot that sits right on the Middle Head Precinct, in Mosman, New South Wales. It is maybe a 10-15 minute drive from the hustle and bustle of Sydney CBD, but it feels like it’s miles away from the big city life.
With a public barbecue spot that sits on a headland overlooking Sydney Harbour on one side, and the beautiful Balmoral Beach on the other, this is a barbecue lover’s Graceland.
Due to its location, the freely accessed public barbecue (which is a double-sized plate) is surrounded by natural green space, with gum trees and other Australian flora growing freely, while a couple of friendly local animals including kookaburras, cockatoos, and even a bush turkey or two might pop in for a little bit of a look.
Oh, and for those of us interested in military, the Middle Head Precinct is located right on an old military site, and on occasion massive black hawk military helicopters will land (or take off) only 100 meters away from the public barbecue area.
Dixon Park Beach, Newcastle, New South Wales
There are so many beaches dotted up and down the New South Wales Coast, and many of them offer great surfing, snorkeling, camping, and barbecue spots, but I have and will always hold a special place in my heart for Newcastle.
I spent five years of my life studying and working in Newcastle, which is located 162 kilometres (around 2-2.5 hours driving time) north of Sydney.
Safe to say, I love the place – it is a coastal city with a big heart and some amazing beaches, cafes, and culture zones .
As you move along the stretch of beaches in Newcastle, you will find some really nice spots to barbecue, with one of the top spots located on a grassy knoll in the park beside Dixon Park Beach.
With sheltered public barbecue areas, you will often find a group of students, young families or just a collection of Aussie characters cooking up a storm, using one of the four public barbecues on offer, and you would be very welcome to jump in on the barbecue next to them to cook up a bit of a feed yourself.
It’s a great spot with direct access to the beach, as well as a decent sized play-park for the kids, and loads of grassy areas to toss around the football. Dixon Park Beach is an absolute cracker of a spot to host a barbecue.
Perth, Western Australia:
Australia is a massive country, and although there are a few great spots on the East Coast, we must not forget the West Coast, which has so much awesomeness to offer as well.
Not typically flooded with tourists, the Point Walter Reserve is positioned in an incredible sweet spot where the Walters River meets the ocean.
The Point Walter Reserve offers a barbecue spot for families as well as the couples.
Barbecue Boat – anywhere there is access to an ocean:
One day, someone, somewhere came up with an idea so clever that it would revolutionize just what an Australian barbecue was – they invented the barbecue boat.
If you aren’t familiar with what a barbecue boat is, it is a boating vessel of some kind (really any boat that’s big enough) that has a barbecue built in as part of it. Thus, allowing the most keen barbecue enthusiasts a way to uncover a place they deem the most perfect spot for a barbecue.
For the fishermen (and of course, fisherwomen) among us, it allows an opportunity to cook up the freshest fish you will (possibly) ever eat – you can catch it, and barbecue straight from the ocean – talk about a catch of the day.
There are few things in life that can match the serenity that comes with sitting out on the boat on a still ocean, with your fishing rod dangled into the water, while a sweet, sweet barbecue is cooked right there on your vessel. A barbecue boat might just be the most perfect spot to hold a barbecue!
These are just a few places I think are worthwhile visiting while cooking a barbecue. If you are privileged enough to get the chance to visit us in Australia, please make some time to enjoy a true-blue Aussie barbecue (wherever you have the chance)!