There’s nothing quite like the feeling of freedom that camping affords. Loading up the car with tents, sleeping bags, fold-up chairs, an esky or two and hitting the open road in search of some serenity to counterbalance the craziness of modern life – it can be pure bliss.
There are a lot of advantages to camping in Victoria. The state’s impressive scenery and family-friendly vibes make it the perfect getaway for those looking to make the most of the golden sands and clear beaches. Similarly, you could find yourself enamoured by the solitude and serenity of a mountain trip. So whether you want a quick weekend away or to completely cut off from the world for a few weeks, this guide to the best camping Victorian has to offer is for you. The activity is a great and fun way to get some much-needed R&R without breaking the bank.
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. So pitch a tent, park the caravan and let the day unfold without the constant buzz of notifications. So gather the family, round up your mates and set off into the great outdoors to enjoy the best of Victorian wilderness. These are seven of the best camping spots to visit this summer, from free and rustic to modern electricity-equipped and dog-friendly sites.
Whether you like to pitch your tent in the middle of a remote forest, at the base of an incredible mountain range, along the shores of a peaceful lake, or close enough to the beach to hear the waves crashing at night, the state of Victoria has a range of different environments to suit every type of camper, making it a unique place to pitch a tent.
Camping is permitted in 25 of the state’s 35 national parks, and while some sites are free, the majority are very reasonably priced. You’ll find every type of camping, from remote spots in private national reserves (where you can BYO everything and rough it) to the comfortable surrounds of holiday parks (think: flushing toilets, hot showers and barbecues… maybe even some glamping!)
Johanna Beach Campground
535 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC Australia 3000
Knuckles of wind-whipped cliffs and rolling grassland keep watch over Johanna Beach, a sandy, a four-kilometre stretch of the southern coast. About 50 kilometres southeast of the Twelve Apostles Marine National Park, the rugged, imposing shoreline is matched by an equally wild ocean. There’s no shortage of camping areas in the Great Otway National Park, but Johanna Beach Campground is among the most spectacular.
Picnicking, walking, fishing and surfing are popular, though the latter is best left to experienced wave-riders. It’s not recommended for a leisurely swim; in fact, Johanna Beach serves as an understudy to Bells Beach during major surf comps, should the waves be flat in the northeast. If you’re keen for a dip, try Aire River, a half-hour drive away.
Great Otway’s hiking trails, however, are for all levels of trekkers. For example, Melba Gully, known as the “Jewel of the Otways”, is a crowd of lush rainforest splendours about 15 kilometres north of your campsite.
Ring Rd, Tidal River VIC 3960
Tidal River is one of the most popular spots for beach camping in Victoria. With the added benefit of being situated both by the river and Norman Beach, you’ll find no lack of things to do. All modern amenities are available, including hot showers, dishwashing stations, toilets and picnic spots with free gas barbeques.
Set on the southernmost tip of mainland Australia, Wilsons Promontory National Park is a 50,000-hectare playground that juts into the sapphire-tinted coast, puncturing the Bass Strait. Tidal River Campground is one of two main campsites in “The Prom”, as the park is affectionately known, and it’s a good jumping-off point for the area’s many walking trails.
For hikers, it’s a case of choosing your adventure: do you prefer plodding through stringybark forest, temperate rainforest or mangroves? Either way, be sure to summit the park’s crowd-pleaser, Mount Oberon, where you can admire the edge of the continent.
Refuge Cove Camp, Wilsons Promontory VIC 3960
Whether local or interstate, this secluded and pristine beach offers a Victorian camping experience, you won’t soon forget. Located at the southern side of the cove, the Refuge Cove campsite is surrounded by nature and only a hop, skip and a jump from the water. The camp includes all the basic facilities you would expect and requires advanced bookings.
Killarney Beach, Killarney
Beach Road, Killarney VIC 3283
Killarney Beach provides some of the best camping Victorian has to offer, perfect for anglers and anyone looking for the perfect beach getaway. Nestled in a small rural setting, known for its sprawling farmlands and only 282kms outside Melbourne, this place is sure to deliver the peace you’re looking for. You can book powered and unpowered sites; there’s a playground for the kids and all the amenities you could need. It’s also pet-friendly!
If in doubt, Go West. About 280km west of Melbourne, to be precise. That’s where you’ll find Killarney Beach Camp Ground, just past Warrnambool. Killarney itself is a tiny 800-person village surrounded by dairy cows and green green grass and ringed with shallow, sandy bays. There’s 20 powered and 50 unpowered campsites in the area, plus a kids playground and a sporting oval (camp cricket, anyone?) The real draw here, though, is the wild western beaches and the local produce. Definitely leave some time for a road trip to some farmer’s markets in nearby Port Fairy.
Newhaven Beach, Phillip Island
24 Old Bridge Dr, Newhaven VIC 3925
Phillip Island is a perfect destination for beach camping in Victoria, and BIG4 Phillip Island Caravan Park on Newhaven Beach offers the ideal getaway. If you’re after natural beauty and seeing some of Australia’s iconic animals, this is the spot for you. Catch the Penguin Parade at sunset or try and spot one of the islands many koalas.
Mornington Peninsula Foreshore
1380 Point Nepean Rd, Rosebud VIC 3939
The Mornington Peninsula Foreshore contains Victoria’s most beautiful beaches, including Rosebud, Rye, and Sorrento. Scenic views of the ocean and excellent facilities make this one of the most popular spots for camping on the Mornington Peninsula. Activities include swimming, hiking and cycling, and local shops and cafes are just a stone’s throw away.
Wye River Foreshore, Great Otway National Park
Wye Rd, Separation Creek VIC 3221
The Wye River Foreshore offers loads of things to see and do a top spot for camping in Victoria. Along the Great Ocean Road, this site offers a pleasant pit stop and is close to Cape Otway, 12 Apostles and Apollo Bay. Key amenities include BBQ areas, camp kitchen, hot showers and more.
Wye River has a special vibe about it. 9/10 daytrippers drive straight on through on their way to Cape Otway and the Twelve Apostles, but the Foreshore Camp Ground is well worth a pitstop if you’ve got a few nights to spare. It’s one of the best campsites in Victoria for koala spotting, and the beachfront real estate at the Wye River estuary is seriously speccy. The camp has power, toilets and showers, but if you want to splash out on a good meal, check out the Wye River pub and the general store, just off the main highway. Book early to avoid disappointment—there are only 64 pitches up for grabs.
Cathedral Ranges State Park
Little River Road, Taggerty, Victoria, 3714, Australia
Follow the Maroondah Highway two hours northeast 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. The third campsite, the Farmyard, is free of charge and accessible to hikers scaling the unsealed Razorback Ridge Track. Finally, Cathedral Ranges State Park is one of the most popular weekend camping spots for families and offers bushwalking, abseiling, and rock-climbing activities.
Cumberland River Holiday Park
2680 Great Ocean Road, Lorne, Victoria, 3232, Australia
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, coastal 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.
Bellfield, Victoria, 3381, Australia
The Grampians is a stunning national park situated three hours west of Melbourne. 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.
Is there a prettier part of Victoria than the Howqua Valley? It’s certainly got the most beautiful name. Sheepyard Flat is one of the best campsites along the Howqua, set just outside Mansfield. Fly-fisherman discovered this place a long time ago, and you’ll usually spot several wading up and down the river, casting their flies for trout, perch and Redfin. Camping at Sheepyard is free, and it’s a first-come-first-served sort of deal. Pro tip: spend a day hiking out to Fry’s Flat, one of the areas’ original crofter’s huts.
Lake Crosbie Campground
Murray-Sunset National Park
Those who take the six-hour drive from Melbourne to Murray-Sunset National Park near the South Australian border will stumble upon some 677,000 hectares of semi-arid wilderness filled with flora and fauna, such as the star-shaped Murray lily or the rarely glimpsed mouse-like Gile’s planigale.
The four lakes at the park’s southern entrance (Becking, Crosbie, Hardy and Kenyon) are the Pink Lakes because their hue changes from white to otherworldly bubblegum pink. At the southern edge of the largest fairy-floss-tinged pond, you’ll find the flat, open expanse of Lake Crosbie Campground, one of the park’s three lakeside camping areas.
Four-wheel drivers rejoice: about 600 kilometres of tracks knot through the park, inviting the off-road discovery of terrains as varied as saltbush plains, mallee scrub and delightfully bumpy sand dunes. Your two feet can take you to great heights, too. Walk to the Mount Crozier lookout to see the deserted plains in sweeping detail, or take the 90-minute Kline Nature Walk to encounter the unexpectedly abundant wildlife that lives in the park’s barren reaches.
Striking sandstone mountain ranges slice through the 168,241-hectare Grampians National Park, about 260 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. The peaks and fertile gorges – formed some 400 million years ago – make for a hiker’s paradise. Highlights include Reeds Lookout, Hollow Mountain (Wudjub-Guyan) Walk and Mount Sturgeon (Wurgarri) Walk.
The National Heritage-listed park has 10 vehicle-accessible campgrounds, with six additional camps in more remote spots for keen trekkers. Plantation Campground is on the eastern edge of the Mount Difficult Range and can be accessed via Mt Zero Road. It’s a good starting point for journeys into the spectacular jutting verges of Halls Gap. The campground is also about a half-hour drive from the Aboriginal rock art shelters Gulgurn Manja, and Ngamadjid thought to be more than 20,000 years old.
Lake Catani Campground
Lovers of adventure and nature cannot go past a stay on the beautiful banks of Lake Catani. Around four hours out of the Melbourne CBD, this family-friendly camping spot offers 49 sites all set high in the Alps in the beautiful Mount Buffalo National Park. Go for a walk to take in wildlife and waterfalls, swim or kayak in the peaceful waters, or just hang out with the local wombats.
The campground is basic but has everything visitors need for a comfortable stay. Toilets and hot showers (including accessible options), dishwashing facilities, basic laundry, along with a mess hall with shared-use tables and fireplaces, all feature.
At the nearby day visitor centre, a picnic shelter overlooking the lake, free gas barbecues and tables provide a serene setting to watch the world go by. There are 49 sites, some suitable for camper vans and caravans and others only suited to car and tent camping. In addition, several walk-in sites offer a more private experience.
This is one of three top camping spots around picturesque Coller Bay, on the shores of popular Lake Eildon, that make up the Fraser Camping Area. While nearby Lakeside Campground is best for motorised water sports, Candlebark (along with Devil Cove to the north) is perfect for families and groups wanting a low-key camping adventure.
Canoe, kayak, paddle-board or swim in the sheltered waters of Devil Cove or Coller Bay, take a stroll through nature on one of the area’s many walking trails, or just relax on the shores of Lake Eildon.
The amenities – hot showers, flushing toilets and gas barbecues – are all you need to up-level your stay at Candlebark’s unpowered sites, and you can stock up on supplies at local towns Alexandra or Eildon (both 15 minutes away).
Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park, The Grampians
23-27 Tymna Dr, Halls Gap VIC 3381, Australia
If an upmarket slice of paradise tucked away at the foot of an impressive mountain range is what you’re looking for, you can call off the search. From a wood-fire heated pool complex to a 60-seat camp lounge around an open fire on cooler nights, visitors can settle back and take in all nature has to offer… with a few little comfortable extras on the side.
Whether you’re planning to catch your zzz’s in a caravan, camper trailer, small tent or motor home, this campground has large powered and unpowered sites for every kind of camper. Glamping more your style? You can even book one of their luxe safari tents! Kayak on nearby Lake Bellfield, fish for brown trout, go horse-riding, or simply sit back and watch local kangaroos and the occasional echidna meander by.
With facilities including private bathrooms, a wifi hub, camp kitchen, playground and trampoline, a spot to grab espresso coffee (yes, really – and did we mention the heated pool?), this is about as lush as roughing it can get. Unpowered sites start at $31; head online to book.
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