The 6 Best Camping Sites in Victoria
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of freedom that you get when camping. For some, camping is a way to find some serenity to balance out the hustle of modern day life and just let the day unfold without the constant buzz of phone or social media notifications. Camping allows you to reconnect with the simple pleasures in life; from waking up to the morning call of native birds to huddling around the campfire telling stories and sleeping under the starlit skies.
Whether you’re looking to set up camp in the middle of a forest, or at the base of an amazing mountain range, or close to the beach where you can hear the waves, the state of Victoria in Australia has a range of different camping environments to suit every type of camper, making it a uniquely special place to enjoy the best of the great outdoors.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the best camping spots that Victoria has to offer.
Before you continue, take a look at our list of essential camping gear for 2020 to help you better plan out your next camping trip.
1. The Grampians
The Grampians is an impressive national park located only 3 hours west of Melbourne. The Grampians is where you should go if you’re looking to relax in peaceful nature, and get up close and personal to some of Victoria’s stunning flora and fauna. The Grampians also offers a great base for day-trips to waterfalls or challenging hikes to renowned rocky escarpments. There are a number of campgrounds where you can pitch your tent, tailored to meet various needs.
We would recommend the Plantations. Despite being the biggest campground in the Grampians National Park, it's completely free of charge. It’s also near the more well-known landmarks like the Mackenzie Falls, Reeds Lookout and The Pinnacle. There are one or two hiking trails in which you can go explore as well. Another landmark in the Grampians; Halls Gap is a mere nine kilometres south of the Plantations, so you're not far from good restaurants, cafes and friendly bars and pubs. You can take some time to visit Brambuk Cultural Centre.
The Plantation is located in the northern section of The Grampians, and features facilities like non-flush toilets, bush showers, fireplaces and picnic tables. However, if you’re planning to take a hike, it’s better to go earlier in the weekend, because there is only space for about 30 tents only.
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2. Andersons Garden, Mount Disappointment
Image from: Ellaslist
The Andersons Garden, located in Mount Disappointment State Forest. Don’t let the name fool you; Mount Disappointment State Forest is hardly a disappointment. A mere 70 minutes drive from Melbourne (around 80 kilometres), Andersons Garden is a pretty place to set up camp. It boasts of grassy campgrounds on the banks of the Sunday Creek, and inviting swimming water holes are perfect for a dip to cool off in the Australian summers. If you prefer a more scenic drive, the Mount Disappointment Forest Drive is a three-hour adventure along the scenic spots of the state forest.
For the outdoor enthusiasts and thrill-seekers, the Andersons Campgrounds also offers hiking trails, mountain biking and 4WD driving. There are plenty of hikes available around the area as well, as you take in the Strath Creek Fall, the Sunday Creek Reservoir and even a quick hike up to the Summit of Mount Disappointment. The Goulburn River is also a great spot if you’re into water-skiing, canoeing, kayaking and even fishing.
The campground itself has a host of facilities, which include composting toilets, wood-fired barbies and picnic tables, fireplaces, proper access for 2-wheel drives, great fishing spots and a pet-friendly environment. No bookings are required for this free campground, but as with all things free, it’s good to go earlier to secure your spot for the weekend.
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3. The Murray
Image from: Visit Melbourne
The Murray makes it on this list with its temperate climate and gorgeous wilderness areas. Crowned with a breathtakingly distant backdrop, the Murray region provides you with the best of idyllic camping all along the Murray River. Around a 3 hour drive north of Melbourne, the Murray region is a fantastic place to make a proper escape from the city.
The Gunbower National Park, located in Gannawarra alongside the Murray River is an area that is well suited for the adventurous camper. The campground is well-suited for a myriad of activities due to its close proximity to the river, especially for water skiing, swimming and fishing. This strip of forest is surrounded by billabongs and wetlands is actually known as the Gunbower Island. Known for its various birdlife, the area is also famous for a 14-kilometer walking track, which starts at Koondrook. For those who are more adventurous, you can also canoe along the 5 kilometer Koondrook Canoe Trail and get up close and personal with the wetlands and the birdlife.
The area allows for a maximum of 139 tent pitches, which you'll find along the Murray and Gunbower Creek, but does not have any facilities.
If you’re looking to camp in the Murray region with a bit more luxury, you can consider the Lake Boga Caravan Park, which is around 40 kilometres away from the Murray River. The Park offers visitors with amazing views and easy access to the iconic Lake Boga and also features laundry options, a camp kitchen and an area just for barbies. The lake is also a great place for all kinds of water sports.
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4. Lake Catani Campground, Mount Buffalo
Nature lovers and adventure seekers should not miss out on the beautiful Mount Buffalo National Park, in particular, the amazing Lake Catani Campground. Well-known for its beauty, wildlife and waterfalls, this is a family-friendly campsite that ticks all the boxes for a perfect weekend getaway. Plus, it’s only located 4 hours away from Melbourne.
Lake Catani is the perfect home base for those looking to summit Mount Buffalo, go rock climbing, or swim, canoe or kayak around the peaceful waters of Lake Catani. In the surrounding areas, campers can find the picturesque Snow Gum woodlands, majestic waterfalls, and wide fields of flowers, who appeal to those looking to escape from summer’s heat. In winter, Mount Buffalo attracts skiers and hikers who want to go for a change of pace with alpine landscapes.
The Lake Catani campground is basic but has everything that you need for a comfortable stay. There are toilets and hot showers, a basic laundry, along with a mess hall with shared picnic tables and fireplaces for all to use. There are also free gas BBQ stations and tables overlooking the serene lake.
The campgrounds offer 49 campsites. Some are suitable for small caravans and campervans while others are more suitable for car camping and tents only, so it’s good to plan and know what kind of camping you’re planning to do beforehand.
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5. Mornington Peninsula Shire
The beautiful Port Phillip Bay coastline of the Mornington Peninsula has some of Victoria’s most beautiful beaches including Rosebud, Rye and Sorrento. Boasting 13 kilometres of foreshore camping with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, campers can expect scenic views of the ocean and excellent facilities, making the Mornington Peninsula one of the most popular spots for beach camping in Victoria.
There are three foreshore reserve camping grounds; namely the Rosebud Foreshore Reserve, the Rye & Sorrento Foreshores and the Mornington Peninsula Shire which you can pitch your tent.
For example, the Rosebud Foreshore Reserve is a stretch of approximately 7 kilometres, and offers great access to the beach, and has 665 camping sites up for booking. The Rye & Sorrento Foreshores has 315 camping sites available for both caravan camping and tents.
Each of the camping grounds provide excellent facilities with shower and toilet blocks, BBQs and kids’ play areas, as well as plenty of local shops and cafes nearby. There are also activities nearby that you can do, like swimming, hiking and cycling.
6. Ada River Campground, Errinundra National Park
If you’re looking to get away from the usual hustle and bustle, the Ada River Campground is a perfect starting point for you. Located on the outskirts of the Errinundra National Park, famous for its cool and temperate rainforests, the Ada River Campground offers amazing grassy campsites surrounded by ferns and tall gumtrees.
It is a bit of a distance from Melbourne, around a 7 hour drive away, but it’s an amazing chance for you to explore a completely different camping spot. The Ada River Campground also boasts of its eucalyptus canopies, dating back hundreds of years old. One of the best hiking trails to explore here is The Rainforest Walk, which guides you through an ancient forest absolutely covered with tall tree ferns and adorned with hanging branches. There’s no doubt that the national park is a remote marvel of nature.
The campsite includes composting toilets, fireplaces, BBQ pits, and picnic tables, and no bookings are required. Plus, due to the long drive that may dissuade many visitors, you’ll get to experience scenic lookouts and unspoiled natural marvels. That’s why the Ada River Campgrounds is a perfect spot for finding solitude, as you can just sit back, relax and listen to the sounds of nature.
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Escaping from the city is vital for the city dwellers survival, and we hope that these 6 campsites around Victoria can give you a fantastic escape into nature. If you haven’t already done so, check out our beginners’ guide to camping essentials to help you plan for your next trip.
What did you think about our article? We’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts in the comment section below! You can also check out our store for the best camping and hiking gear and accessories!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Am I allowed to camp anywhere in Australia?
Australia boasts of having some of the best campgrounds in the world to suit all budgets. However, while free camping sites can be easily found in Australia, it isn’t allowed just anywhere. In Victoria, for example, camping is permitted in 25 of the state's 35 national parks, and while some sites are free, the majority are very reasonably priced. There are more specifically designated areas across the country in which camping is either free or inexpensive.
Be warned though, check to see if your free camping site is not located in a restricted area, (look out for signs that say “No Camping” or similar) or else you can be fined!
2. What are some campsite tips I should take note of?
The main one we can share with you is leave no trace!
Wherever you decide to set up camp, whether it is within a national park, a free campsite or even a budget campground, you should always remember to look after nature during your camping trip. Leave no trace behind when you’re camping. You can do the following to make sure you’re following the rule:
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimise campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other campers
3. What are some of the benefits of free camping sites?
Well for one, they’re free so there’s that. But aside from saving some money for other essentials like your camping gear and food, here are some other advantages you get from a free campsite.
- Freedom to choose where you pitch your tent, whether you want seclusion or to be nearer to the activities
- Picking secluded spots which aren’t packed with people
- No need to pre-book your campsite. (But just remember to be there earlier to grab a spot!)
- You can change camping spots as you please as you aren’t booked in one spot.