Camping allows you to disconnect with high speed life and reconnect with the simple pleasures such as star-gazing and waking up to the morning calls of native birds. Pitch a tent, park the caravan and let the day unfold without the constant buzz of notifications. Gather the family, round up your mates and set off into the great outdoors to enjoy the best of Victorian wilderness. From free and rustic to modern electricity-equipped and dog-friendly sites, these are seven of the best camping spots to visit this summer.
Follow the Maroondah Highway two hours north east to the Cathedral Ranges State Park where you’ll find a breathtaking rugged upturned ridge stretching across seven kilometres. There are three camping options in the state park; the first is Cooks Mill which has 30 shaded campsites suitable for tents and caravans at Lowerson Track off Little River Road. The second is Ned’s Gully featuring 15 sites available for tents, situated over the bridge at Little River Road and the third campsite, the Farmyard, is free of charge and is accessible to hikers scaling the unsealed Razorback Ridge Track. Cathedral Ranges State Park is one of the most popular weekend camping spots for families and offers activities such as bushwalking, abseiling and rock-climbing.
The southernmost tip of Australia, Wilson’s Promontory National Park, boasts a wide range of natural scenery from granite mountains to idyllic beaches and rainforests. Holidaymakers can choose from a variety of accommodation options, but campers tend to stick to Tidal River where there are a host of facilities including a visitors centre, general store, service station, fish ‘n’ chip shop, café and an outdoor cinema. Tidal River campground offers 484 campsites suitable for tents and caravans including 20 powered sites and 11 remote sites. The campground has modern amenities making Wilson’s Promontory the ideal spot for novice campers.
Located on the Great Ocean Road, seven kilometres from Lorne is the Cumberland River Holiday Park which sits on the river’s edge in a valley between jagged cliffs and lush mountains. Choose between traditional camping grounds or sleep comfortably in one of their deluxe cabins or an African Safari Eco Tent. The holiday park also features campfires – a rarity in Victoria. At Cumberland River, the activities are endless with 50km of bushwalking, a private beach for swimming and snorkelling, costal walks and trout fishing in the river. You can also visit Castle Rock lookout, Langdale Pike lookout and Cumberland Falls are all within a five kilometre walk.
The Grampians is a stunning national park situated three hours west of Melbourne where you can relax in peaceful surroundings and get up close to some of Victoria’s most magnificent wildlife. There are a number of campgrounds and holiday parks scattered throughout The Grampians with some sites tailored for families and others positioned in remote locations for hikers. Must-see attractions at The Grampians include walks to MacKenzie Falls, Reeds Lookout and The Pinnacle, canoeing Lake Bellfield and Lake Wartook and visiting the cultural centre known as Brambuk in Halls Gap.
In the winter the alpine environment of Mount Buffalo attract skiers; however, in the summer the picturesque Snow Gum woodlands, majestic waterfalls, and fields of wildflowers appeal to campers looking to escape the brutal heat of summer. Unpowered sites suitable for tents, caravans and campervans are available from November to April at the Lake Catani Campground and include basic amenities. Lake Catani is the perfect home base for those looking to summit the Horn, go rock climbing or hand gliding or paddle about the lake in a canoe. The nearby towns of Bright and Beechworth are also worth a visit.
Three hours south of Melbourne in Apollo Bay is the pet-friendly Marengo Holiday Park, because let’s face it camping is so much more fun with your best friend. The holiday offers sea kayaking tours, surf lessons, glow worm tours and on Saturday you can visit the Appolo Bay Market. After a busy day set up camp at one of their powered or unpowered sites or rest your head in a cosy cabin. Marengo features all the usual amenities and has WIFI access. This is certainly the place to go for first time campers with young families and a playful pooch.
Reserved as the backup location in case the waves are flat during Rip Curl Pro surfing at Bells Beach, Johanna Beach is a quiet surf spot amongst the sand dunes. The free, unpowered campground has room for 25 tents and is dog-friendly. With basic toilet facilities and sloping grounds, camping at Joanna Beach may be off-putting to some, but those willing to rough it will get first dibs when it comes to catching waves and enjoying the surf at the Otway National Park.