MEJ Masthead

There are picnics and then there are Schmicnics

Beatrice Smith

As the days get longer, there’s never been a better time to enjoy the outdoors.

And like the foodies we are, Canberrans are sure to supplements their adventures with all manner of delicious treats. From a gourmet hamper for two through to fully catered and styled picnic parties for large groups, there’s a picnic option for every occasion, according to Schmicnics, Canberra’s newest picnic company. Yes, you read that right.

With the experience of James Souter, Kate Hibberson and John Leverink (the team from The Boat House and Pod Food) behind the concept, and one of Canberra’s best chefs designing the menus, this ain’t no ordinary picnic, as James explains.

“Schmicnics is Canberra’s first pop-up gourmet picnic company, offering Canberrans the opportunity to enjoy delicious meals with their friends in the beautiful parkland around Lake Burley Griffin,” he says.

“The inspiration for Schmicnics came to me late last summer. My family have always been big picnic fans…and these are generally quite elaborate affairs with lawn games and hot food, it’s just a great way to reconnect with friends in a different setting.”


However, James explains that the preparation and clean up that comes with a picnic (think unpacking sticky Tupperware when you get home) can deter some people. And so Schmicnics was born.

“It just struck me – what if you could just turn up and have all the fun of the picnic without lifting a finger? It sounded pretty great to me!”

For James, it was also all about location, location, location.

“People often talk about Canberra underutilising the foreshore, but I think there’s something really special about how the majority of Canberra’s waterfront has remained true to the concept of a garden city. It’s beautiful, and it means that the land is kept open to everyone.”


“What we’re hoping to do with Schmicnics is provide a new way for people to get out there and enjoy it. We want to provide great food, drinks, and atmosphere without changing the nature and intent of the space. We want to open up the beautiful parklands to people, and make using that space a more inviting and accessible prospect.”

So what’s involved in a Schmicnic?

“Schmicnics offers two types of picnics,” explains James. “There are the hampers, which are great for smaller groups of two or more people and parties for larger groups (25+).”


“The hampers are great for a day out, a casual after work dinner in summer, or something a bit more special like a proposal. They come in a custom Schmicnics tote bag, and contain an array of delicious food – think Potato and leek, haloumi tarts, Smoked pork lion, cucumber, pickled cauliflower, burnt onion sandwiches and more.”


“The parties are a little more elaborate. These are fully catered events with a range of delicious hot and cold food presented on a large grazing style picnic table as a centrepiece. There are four options to choose from, including a seafood-focused option. These menus are not your average picnic.”

“Imagine lazing in the sun, feasting on smoked carrots, hummus and seed dukkah, smoked pork loin, slow cooked pork belly in a bao bun, Sri Lankan lamb skewers with coriander and sesame yoghurt, or Yellowfin tuna tacos? Or, if you’re after something a little more traditional there are marinated chicken wings, fancy sausage sandwiches with sauerkraut on homemade buns, and fire-roasted corn cobs.”


Dietary requirements? Not an issue. As James explains, all the picnics are designed to cater for vegetarian and gluten-free guests, with other dietaries catered for upon request. Plus, all food is packed in eco-friendly paper and bamboo packaging to reduce rubbish.

Want to add a little bubble to your Schmicnic? Drinks can be BYO or are available as an additional package and hosts can also add rugs, tables and chairs, and scatter cushions as well as large shade umbrellas to make things even fancier and more comfortable for their guests. Very schmick indeed. But the fun doesn’t stop there.

“Party hosts can also amp up the fun by adding some games. Croquet, lawn bowls, Finska (a Finnish log-tossing game), as well as giant versions of Jenga and Connect Four will keep guests laughing and entertained all picnic long,” says James.


And at the end of the party, The Schmicnics team will do all the cleaning up, so you don’t have to lift a finger.

“You don’t have to do a thing,” says James. “If you would like a few extra hands to help during the picnic we can also provide staff to serve food and drinks.”

As for where Schmicnics are available, James says it’s up to you.

“The whole intention of Schmicnics is to get people out enjoying the beauty of Canberra and the lake area, so we’ll be encouraging people to choose one of the many picturesque picnic spot around the lake,” he says. “The Schmicnics website suggests some of our favourites and tags them with available facilities (e.g. bathrooms, dog and child-friendly sites), and other tips to ensure you pick the best spot. Of course, Schmicnics can also be held in your garden, at your office, or your local park – or even inside!”


“All parties will be delivered to your chosen location, while hampers can be collected directly from our professional kitchen in Barton, where our team of chefs prepare all our picnics.”

“We want to see those colourful picnic blankets on the green grass by the lake, people sipping a beer, enjoying some really great food, having a game of Finska and a laugh. Finding a new way to enjoy the beautiful Canberra summer with their friends and family.”

the essentials

What: Schmicnics Picnics
When: Open Wednesday to Sunday.
Where: Choose your own picnic spot! The Schmicnics website has some suggestions for their favourites, too.
Orders for hampers and enquiries for parties can be placed through the website.


Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author