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Mt Franklin reserve campground, near Daylesford


  • the camp ground is a unique medium sized free camp ground inside the caldera of a dormant volcano just north of Daylesford, Vic.
  • as far as I am aware, it is the ONLY campground inside a well defined steep sided caldera in Victoria and perhaps in Australia
  • being inside a volcanic crater it can get very cold in winter!
  • well treed with ornamentals, and thanks to the sides of the crater being forested with pines, it gets less sun than most other camp grounds and is somewhat protected from most strong winds
  • deciduous trees are bare by end of May - a bit earlier than in nearby Daylesford - guess the autumn nights are colder in the crater when there is little wind to stop the colder air settling in the crater
  • 550m elevation in crater; Mt Franklin hits about 620m elevation;
  • dogs are permitted on a lead

A bit of history

  • Mt Franklin was created by a volcanic eruption about 470,000 years ago and is a fine example of a breached scoria cone.
  • Lava from Mount Franklin and other volcanoes in the area filled valleys and buried the gold bearing streams that became the renowned ‘deep leads’ of the gold mining era
  • The indigenous clan that occupied the country around Mount Franklin were the Gunangara Gundidj who called it Lalgambook
  • the last eruption is thought to be ~5000 yrs ago and is apparently enshrined in local aboriginal oral histories and myths
  • it is a major megacryst site with some of the largest known Victorian examples of megacrysts of augite and an orthoclase.
  • the small parasitic mound of Lady Franklin on the western flanks adds to the geological interest of the site.
  • the crater of Mount Franklin was set aside as a recreation reserve, and the remainder reserved as State forest in 1866
  • “in 1944, a devastating bushfire destroyed most of the native vegetation on the mount. As a result, the inner and outer slopes of the crater were planted with exotic species, mainly conifers, to prevent erosion and to provide revenue through commercial harvesting. The caldera was planted with ornamentals such as silver birch, white poplar, Sycamore and Sequoia sempervirens (Californian Redwoods)”
  • In 1955, 145 acres was re-reserved as permanent forest under the control of the Shire of Daylesford and Glenlyon. Within the reserve, an area of eight acres was set aside for recreation, specifically for an entrance gate and access road
  • Coca-Cola Amatil bottled mineral water from a spring 7km to the north and renamed it Mt Franklin Mineral Water as a marketing exercise which continues but the bottling at that spring ceased in 1986 and it has been destroyed and there are no markers to indicate its existence. Current bottled mineral water is allegedly tap water which has been salted and carbonated.

It is one of the "better" refuges for tents on hot windy days with or without thunderstorms

  • in general, if it is 40degC, hot and windy with severe thunderstorms forecast - you are probably best NOT to be camping, but if you need to, then this camp ground might be the best choice in the region
  • being at the base of a crater provides substantial benefits in hot windy weather:
    • it is generally 5degC cooler than outside the volcano
    • the winds are much reduced, although more swirly in nature thanks to the depth of the crater an the dense pine forest on the slopes of the crater
      • when severe thunderstorm winds of 80-100kph gusts wreaked havoc across the state and nearby roads were littered with debris and fallen trees and branches, there was very little evidence of that at the camp ground although apparently a couple of the pines on the steep slope fell and there was some timber debris around - tents were undamaged.
  • severe thunderstorms are much less likely to cause tent damage or theoretically less chance of a lightning strike in the camp ground given its lower that the rest of the forested trees
    • there is still a significant risk of the younger shallow rooted pines or gumtrees falling over - so perhaps it is wiser to camp on the skirts of the central communal area
    • there is risk of tree debris falling but there are no redgum large branches
    • as with anywhere, a rare severe microburst directly above the crater could still result in severe damage to tents, vans, cars with many trees toppled and possible severe injury
      • in this event get in your car and move it away from any trees which could fall onto it
  • HOWEVER, you would want to leave early in the event of a bushfire as there is only the one road out - although the walk up and over the crater is easy - so there are options.
    • as with any other area, if a “Catastrophic fire warning” is declared for the region, you will probably not be permitted to camp there
    • it has burnt down once before!


  • great in hot windy weather as per above (even regional bushfire smoke is reduced given the elevation)
  • nice ambience, lots of big oaks and pines for shade
  • drop toilets have recently been renovated
  • large picnic shelter
  • easy access although short, winding narrow access road and care needs to be taken in entering and exiting the road at the main road which has poor visibility of oncoming traffic
  • great spot from which to explore this lovely area - the towns of Daylesford, Hepburn Springs, Glenlyon, Guildford, Castlemaine and others are all very close by and have a rich gold mining and mineral spring history


  • gets over-crowded on weekends, even in winter! - so go mid-week for a nicer experience
  • there is no river or creek to swim in on a hot day - you will need to go to the nearby Daylesford lakes for swimming eg. Lake Jubilee or Lake Daylesford swimming jetty
  • can be very cold in winter - unless you like sub-zero temperatures, probably skip this location
  • camp fires can quickly fill the area with smoke - it has no where to go to
  • winds tend to swirl around so can't rely on setting up camp for one wind direction - but these are much reduced in speed
  • the 45min crater rim walk is great for some brief aerobic exercise and nature watching (there are echidnas) but there are minimal views due to the trees at the top
  • there is no potable water
  • not a lot of flat ground - if you have a caravan you may need to get in early to find something level - after all - it is inside a crater with steep sloping edges!


  • brush tailed possums - can be noisy at night
  • echidnas - especially at the crater rim
  • nocturnal native antechinus
  • birds can be difficult to spot but you can hear them
    • kookaburras
    • white tailed choughs
    • rosellas
    • magpies

Getting there

  • 75min (97km) from NW subs via Woodend and Glenlyon
  • 1.5hrs from CBD, near Daylesford

Nearby amenities

  • Chocolate Mill
    • 5min, 4km Sth
  • Hepburn Springs Spa
    • 10min, 9km Sth
  • Daylesford
    • 12min, 13km Sth
    • cafes and restaurants are very busy on weekends at lunch/dinner times - you will probably need to book restaurants - and pubs
    • the BP petrol station does sell firewood but as of June 2024, it was selling 5kg kindling for $19.95 - it is much cheaper at the Hardware store but it closes early on weekends!
  • Lavendula Swiss-Italian Lavender Farm
    • 11min, 12km W via Franklinford
  • Castlemaine
    • 24min, 29km to NE via Guildford
  • Woodend
    • 40min, 48km

Nearby non-commercial campgrounds

  • Glenlyon Recreation Reserve and mineral springs - RV overnight camp only
  • Vaughan Springs camp - 19min, 23km, small flat grassed area above the lovely picnic area and Loddon River with its walking tracks; ~290m elevation;
  • Warburton's Bridge campground - 22min, 26km to the NE via Guildford - popular with caravans, alongside the Loddon River; ~280m elevation;
  • Maldon Mt Tarrengower Butt's Reserve camp ground - 32min, 39km to the north via Yandoit and Newstead - walk up to Mt Tarrengower or into Maldon; ~370m elevation;
  • Oak Forest, Harcourt - 35min, 39km to NE via Guildford, Castlemaine and Harcourt; ~10 sites; not for large caravans! great for mountain bikes! ~420m elevation;
  • Leanganook camp ground Mount Alexander - 40min, 44km to the NE via Guildford, Castlemaine; ~650m elevation; not great for caravans as very few flat sites;
  • Firth Park, Trentham - 41min, 47km to SE; a cold camp at high elevations ~680m - it can snow here
  • Slatey Creek, Creswick - 41min, 45km to SW via Daylesford and Creswick
  • Laanecoorie camp - 48min, 63km on the Loddon River; ~190m elevation
  • Cork Oaks, Mt Beckworth - 50min, 56km to W via Yandoit and Clunes
  • Newbridge Recreation Reserve camp ground - 52min, 71km to NNW via Maldon; large camp ground with hot showers and flush toilets on the Loddon River but does cost $15/n pp; ~190m elevation
  • Lake Burrumbeet - 1hr, 74km to SW
  • Bealiba Reservoir, 67min to NW via Dunolly (NB. water leeches)
  • Melville Caves campground, Kooyoora State Park - 75min, 102km NNW via Newstead, and either Maldon/Newbridge or via Carisbrook and Dunolly; ~390m elevation

bush camps without toilets

  • Chokem Flats - 23min, 27km, near Irishtown, no facilities but large grassed area next to a creek and there are toilets at nearby Vaughan Springs
  • Upper Loddon bush camp ?4WD - 30min (Nth of Glenlyon)
  • Hamiltons Crossing on the Loddon
australia/vic/mtfranklin.txt · Last modified: 2024/06/02 22:54 by gary1

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