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Leanganook camp ground Mount Alexander


  • free camp ground near the Calder Freeway at the top of Mt Alexander, elevation 650m
    • 11min from Calder Freeway coming from Melbourne (take the Castlemaine exit)
    • 16min from the Calder Freeway traveling towards Melbourne (take the Fogarty's Gap Rd exit) - consider taking the longer but less windy Harmony Way route which takes the same time duration but accesses the south of the mOuntain which is closer to the camp ground than the north approach
  • accessed by a short uphill gravel road off the bitumen Joseph Young Drive (~200m to start of camp ground) which can be a bit rutted after wet weather
  • called Leanganook picnic ground on Google maps
  • formerly the site of a koala conservation park
  • Leanganook is the indigenous name for this region
  • Mount Alexander diggings was the original name for the gold rush area in Castlemaine in 1851 as Mount Alexander was the main notable geologic feature in the region - the diggings were actually in Chewton / Castlemaine and later named Forest Hill then Castlemaine


  • plenty of room for perhaps 30 or so camp sites in separated groupings
  • toilet block - flush toilet, toilet paper (usually)
  • non-potable water (very brown stained due to tannin)
  • fire pits for each camp group area
  • lots of shade from gum trees


  • relatively close to the freeway but seems remote - apart from traffic on the main road that winds up Mt Alexander and which is popular with motorcyclists
  • great camp ground to chill out with friends and play board games, chat around a open fire (weather and season permitting)
  • has a nice short walk to impressive granite boulders (“Dog Rocks”) which overlooks the valley to the north and west - good for a 30 minute explore, but also popular for bouldering, abseiling although the granite is rough.
  • central location to many other walks in the historic goldfields area such as Castlemaine
  • mobile phones should work there
  • relatively dry and thus when I went in April 2022, there were no mosquitoes at all at the camp ground, and very few animals at all in the camp ground apart from the occasional kangaroo and the many birds that wake you in the morning such as cockatoos.
  • plenty of fallen old tree branches throughout the mountain so firewood should not be an issue and seems to be allowed to be collected for this use
  • lots of shade
  • tends not to be over-crowded even on April school hols due to the various cons


  • 650m elevation means nights will be cooler than surrounding areas (~400mm elevation including Castlemaine and Maldon)- perhaps on par with Woodend (elevation 600m) or slightly cooler than Kyneton (elevation 500m)
  • poor weather can be worse up there although very unlikely to snow even in winter except on extreme cold weather events
  • not a lot to do within walking distance apart from Dog Rocks and a few minor walks and no running streams, so older kids may not appreciate the camp site (unless they are into bouldering) - younger kids may just be happy to explore and have marshmallows by the fire
  • need to bring your own water, power
  • no showers
  • care needs to be given to site selection given the many gum trees which may drop branches if it is very windy or even in late summer/autumn as a drought protection system
  • no really clear views of the night sky in the camp ground itself due to the many tall trees but views to NW are possible a short walk away towards Dog Rocks
  • sits right under a major air traffic route to Melbourne including planes from Middle East, Bangkok, Darwin, Adelaide

who does it best suit?

  • traveller needing an overnight stop en route to Melbourne - this is the last free larger camp as close as this to the freeway - other alternatives include:
    • Oak Forest, Harcourt - no facilities and minimal spaces
    • Powells Quarry, Mt Alexander - no facilities and minimal spaces
    • Sawpit Gully Reserve, Elphinstone
      • 24hr limit; power, sheltered electric BBQs, picnic tables, toilet block, town water taps, water fountain and playground.
    • Oven Rock campground, Elphinstone - no facilities, but nice spot not for low caravans though; 4km unsealed road;
    • Kyneton Mineral Springs Stopover - RVs and caravans only; limited spaces; 48hr limit; BBQ, toilets; noisy a next to main road.
    • Gisborne roadside rest area - toilets, drinking water.
  • young family who want their kids to experience camping with fires and marshmallows
  • adults who want to chill out with friends around a fire and explore the local region
  • quick camping getaway for Melbournians, especially those in the north or west suburbs who want a quick getaway to a quiet camp ground for a night or two, or to check out their new set up and still be within 1hr drive or so if it goes pear-shaped.

Local amenities

  • Harcourt:
    • 12km, 12min drive; general store, cafe, petrol, public toilets, train station
  • Castlemaine
    • 18km, 17-20min;
    • major town with a range of IGA supermarket, cafe's, restaurants, pubs, shops, petrol, antiques, hardware, lots of short walks, etc
  • Malmsbury
    • 25-29km, 21-22min; cafes, petrol; pub;
  • Redesdale:
    • 22km, 19min; small town with pub for meals;
  • Kyneton
    • 36km, 28min, major town;
  • Maldon
    • 30km, 30min, tourist town; cafes mainly open for brunch/lunch; hotel for dinner; petrol; camp ground (buttsreserve);
  • Bendigo:
    • 39km, 37min, major regional city including Anaconda; (Bunnings is 28min at Kangaroo Flat south of Bendigo)
  • Heathcote
    • 48km, 38min, large town great bakery;

Other local attractions

  • historic gold mining walks and mines
    • many, especially around the historic towns of Maldon and Castlemaine such as the Garfield Water wheel remnants, Forest Hill mine in Chewton, and many walks.
    • Gold Diggings walking track
      • a multi-day hike - track extends from Bendigo, south through Leangarook camp ground, then to Castlemaine and beyond
  • water attractions
    • Expdition Pass Reservoir, Golden Point, Castlemaine, a popular summer swimming area
    • Metcalfe cascades - stream cascading over large granite boulders
    • Lake Eppalock - major boating and caravan park area
  • Harcourt Mountain Bike world-class graded bike circuits in the forest
  • apple cidery
    • Harcourt (a major apple growing region)
  • wineries
    • Sutton Grange Winery
    • Mount Alexander Winery
    • Henry of Harcourt winery
    • Blackjack wines
    • Harcourt Valley vineyards
  • park / picnic areas
    • Harcourt Oak Forest
    • Castlemaine botanical gardens
    • Vaughan Springs (also has a free camp ground)

Nearby camp grounds

  • bush camps on Mt Alexander
    • quarry - NW outlook
    • NE camps
  • Oak Forest, Harcourt
    • newly built toilets (2024) and camp ground with about 10 fairly flat bollarded sites set in a valley with a creek amongst tall pine trees at the base of Mt Alexander
    • not much winter sun
    • adjacent to the beautiful Oak Forest and the awesome mountain bike track facility
    • NOT for caravans unless they are small
    • ~2km gravel road to access and is ~5 min from the small town of Harcourt (petrol, cafe, flush toilets)
    • 24min, 24km via Chewton
    • remote tall forest cold camp at elevation 520m
    • 71min 92km via Gisborne and Calder Fway
australia/vic/leanganook.txt · Last modified: 2024/06/02 20:35 by gary1

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