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my favourite non-commercial camp grounds for tents in Victoria

see also:

  • there are no camp grounds in the Dandenong Ranges - closest is Kurth Kiln camp ground (not Kirth!)
  • there are almost no non-commercial camp grounds in west Gippsland or the south (beach) side of the Otways
  • travel times are OFF-PEAK
  • dogs are allowed at most non-commercial camp grounds in Victoria with some EXCEPTIONS:


  • here are some of my favourite camp grounds in Victoria with my reasons for voting for them

In approximate order

    • yes its 3-4 hours drive from Melbourne and its generally cool and windy down there but it is one of the most popular sites in Australia for good reason:
      • lots of beautiful beaches, one a short walk from your tent site at Tidal River, along with the beautiful Tidal River itself with its multi-coloured very aesthetic granite boulders
        • none of the beaches are patrolled so care is needed swimming but the locals do surf
      • lots of short hikes to get your legs pumping including fantastic views over the coastal areas from either:
        • Mt Oberon summit
        • Mt Bishop - an easier, more sheltered walk
      • opportunity for remote overnight hikes (need to book) to remote beaches
      • a massive sand dune system to explore near the entrance (“The Big Drift”)
      • and of course a wide range of Australian native animals:
        • wombats walk through the camp ground - and through your tent - do NOT have smelly things inside the tent such as food or a wombat may tear its way into your tent
        • kangaroos and wallabies
        • emus at the viewing area
      • the massive Tidal River camp ground has space for some 450 sites - most of which are fully booked in summer and school holidays well in advance, and in the warmer months tend to be booked out in advance on weekends
        • the amenity blocks have flush toilets and hot showers as well as laundry facilities (these have 240V power outlets to charge your phones, etc)
        • just don't bother booking the powered sites - not worth it and they will be almost certainly booked out anyway
    • it is 2.5-3hrs drive from Melbourne but the Grampians are a fantastic mountain range to explore
    • the Parks Vic camp grounds require bookings and whilst they have toilets and some have outdoor showers, none have hot showers
    • my favourite camp ground near Halls Gap is the free one “Plantation” which has a lovely ambience of tall trees for shade, open grassed spaces, nice outdoor enclosed showers - but you need to BYO drinking water and firewood
      • if you want hot showers on your visit to the Grampians, consider:
        • commercial holiday parks in Halls Gap (albeit cramped close to neighbours), or,
        • Green Hill Lakes Camping Reserve, Ararat - honesty box but popular basic campground on a lake (can be very dusty when dry and windy), or,
        • Lake Fyans commercial holiday park
    • the Grampians are in the top 5 places to visit in Victoria
  • somewhere along the Great Ocean Road
    • bad news, there are no free camps near the beach - most are on the north side of the Otway Ranges (eg. Stevensons Falls camp ground Otways, Beauchamp Falls camp ground, Hammonds Road campgrounds near Aireys Inlet / Bambra, Dandos camp ground Otways, Tanners Road campground near Anglesea), and one “near the beach” is at the back of Lorne (Allenvale Mill) while Big Hill campground Otways is 14min drive to Lorne
    • you may have to settle for booking a Parks Victoria camp ground without hot showers or choosing a commercial holiday park such as Wye River, Cumberland River, Lorne, Apollo Bay, Marengo, Bimbi Park Cape Otway, Warrnambool
    • the advantages of this region are many:
      • lovely picturesque beaches
      • surf beaches
      • waterfalls to explore
      • cool temperate tall Eucalypt forests to walk amongst - check out the cascades near Lorne
      • plenty of cafes and shops in the main towns
      • and further on, the rugged coastal scenery of the Twelve Apostles taking you along to Warrnambool and the volcanic region of the western plains to explore on your return
  • quick getaways from Melbourne under 2hrs drive
  • Lake Catani Mt Buffalo
    • requires advanced bookings via Parks Vic
    • 1300m elevation extremely popular, lots of short hikes and views; hot showers;
  • overnight alpine hike experiences
    • Mt Feathertop
      • 1400m ascent (does require some fitness) but gives great alpine views and camp next to a hut which can be used for cooking or emergency shelter
    • Macalister Springs is one of my favourite camps
      • long drive but only a 1.5hr easy hike in and then you get access to the Crosscut Saw for fantastic hiking views and further camps if you are that way inclined
    • iconic Craig's Hut
      • whilst you can drive 4WD to the camp area those with a 2WD will need to hike 45min up to the area
      • you can also drive to Bingaree waterfall
    • bush camp at the top of Mt Stirling
      • this is near Craig's Hut and Mt Buller
      • hike up from Telephone Box Junction car park and general store
      • 2.5hrs, 4.5km one way hike with 500m altitude gain to get to near the peak elevation of 1749m - but tends to be popular with horse trails so you wont always be alone during daylight hours
    • Mt Buangor / Mount Cole / Langi Ghiran campgrounds and hikes - Beeripmo overnight hike, Mt Cole just past Ballarat
      • unfortunately a large bush fire in Feb 2024 has burnt this area out and wont be open for hiking for a while
    • Grampians overnight / multi-night hikes
      • need to book with Parks Vic, does require some fitness and advance planning
    • many other overnight hike camps, but they can be more onerous and remote
  • the best of the rest
    • the many sites along fairly clear alpine streams:
        • this is a massive camp ground along a lovely alpine stream, great for a few nights but is very popular in peak periods and you do need to drive 20-30min on a winding gravel road
        • access to day trips to Bluffs Hut, Craigs Hut and Mt Buller
      • Edi Cutting near the famous Brown Brothers winery Milawa and gourmet food region
        • very popular camp area, lovely region to explore by car - not far from historic gold mining areas of El Dorado, Beechworth as well as Mt Buffalo, Bright, Whitfield
        • consider driving there via Tolmie and Whitfield for some scenic views then return via Glenrowan of Ned Kelly bushranger fame and the Hume Freeway
      • upper Goulburn River and Jamieson River sites near Jamieson - see Jamieson region camp grounds
        • these are lovely spots in summer (swimming in river) and autumn (fall colours in Jamieson but will have cold nights) especially
      • Nug Nug Reserve Myrtleford - not far from Beechworth, Bright and Mt Buffalo
    • Golden Beach
      • not only does it have awesome granite boulders to explore and some nice hikes, but being so far north, can be an option for when the weather is not great in southern parts of Victoria
      • a basic free camp ground but has the advantage in the hot summer months you can swim in the deep river - an alternative is one of the many camp grounds along Lake Eildon or the Murray River - they do get very crowded and can be very hot in summer - not to mention the mosquito issues!
      • a great option for kayaking and bird watching near the Murray River - but lots of mozzies in summer as with most places along the Murray River camping - a good option in April, May as it is a bit warmer than Melbourne and less mozzies by then
      • this is a long way from Melbourne and requires bookings from Parks Vic but it is a lovely spot on the beach with very, very, large monitor lizards visiting your camp
      • be aware this is one of the few campgrounds in Victoria where ticks may be an issue; outdoor cold showers only.
    • Mallacoota and Croajingalong NP in the remote far east
      • you will have to be happy with the commercial holiday park but this is a great region to explore as with Cape Conran
australia/vic/campgrounds_favs.txt · Last modified: 2024/02/29 14:21 by gary1

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