It’s no secret Victoria has some of the best campgrounds around. The camping spots on this list are not too far from Melbourne and most importantly, will deliver the goods for a ripper weekend out in the sticks.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

 

Camping Melbourne – 10 Best Camping Spots Near The City

1. Neds Gully Camping Area
2. The Gums Camping Area
3. Johanna Beach Campground
4. Tidal River Campground
5. Smiths Mill Campground
6. Princetown Recreation Reserve and Camping
7. Bunga Arm Campground
8. Lake Catani Campground
9. Boreang Campground
10. Mount McLeod Campground

 

Let’s go Camping Melbourne!

Some of these campsites aren’t the cheapest but they’re more than worth it. If you pack each site to the max, they all come out at under $5-10 per person per night.

I had a quick squiz on Airbnb and you’ll have a tough time finding anything that cheap with views as good. You can also sleep easy knowing that your cashola is helping maintain our beautiful parks and the animals within them.

So forget the caravan park and skip the holiday parks. Instead fill the car to the brim with mates and camping gear and hit the open road to one of the best camping spots around Melbourne!

Also Read:

Camping Melbourne FAQs

Where can you camp for free in Melbourne?

Unfortunately, there are no free campgrounds in Melbourne itself, but if you’re willing to take a little drive, you’ll find a bunch of free camping spots around Victoria.

Read more: 6 Free Camping Sites Near Melbourne

 

10 Melbourne Microadventures to Tick Off in 2022 - Ben Gilchrist, Camping at Plantation Campground, Grampians National Park

Photo thanks to Visit Vic

Can I camp anywhere in Melbourne?

There’s no wild camping in Melbourne, or in Australia for that matter. If you don’t want to be camping illegally, you need to be pitched up at an official campground or private property.

Where can you legally camp in Victoria?

Wild camping i.e pitching a tent anywhere in the wilderness that you please, is not legal in VIC or anywhere in Australia. Camping has to be within a designated camping ground or on private property.

Are you allowed to camp on the beach in Melbourne?

Pitching a tent directly on any beach within Melbourne isn’t allowed. However there are plenty of beachside campgrounds around VIC with a bunch less than a two hour drive from Melbourne. Check out our full list!

Read more: 18 of The Best Beach Camping Spots in Victoria

Where are the best dog friendly camping spots in Melbourne?

Looking for a campground that you and your best friend can enjoy together? We’ve got a full list of the best dog friendly campgrounds in Victoria so you never have to leave your pooch at home again!

 

Camping Spots 2 Hours From Melbourne

 

1. Neds Gully Camping Area

Location: Cathedral Ranges
Distance / Time from Melbourne:
118 km / 2 hours
Cost: $29.80 for a 6-person site

If you’re looking for camping spots near Melbourne, the Cathedral Ranges has you covered. It’s only two hours from the city, so close enough that you could get a bit carried away at Friday night drinks, duck out for Saturday night at the Cathedrals and still be back in time for tea with Grandma on Sunday.

The campsites at Neds Gully Camping Area are about 100 metres from the car park, so it’s tent camping only, and you’ll have to lug over whatever you threw in the car. So maybe this time just use the supplied fire pits instead of that four-burner BBQ you were tossing up…

There are composting toilets close by though as well as fireplaces.

There’s also the well-known Cooks Mill Campground just down the road which has spots for caravans and trailers. But if you’ve just got a tent, my preference is always Neds Gully, nestled amongst the trees and next to the river.

 

Cathedral Range State Park VIC Chris Paola, wells cave, crack, man, backpack

Finding the sweet summit of Mt Sugarloaf | Photo by Chris Paola

 

2. The Gums Camping Area

Location: King Lake National Park
Distance / Time from Melbourne: 65km north / 1.5 hours
Cost: $13.90 a site

Personally, when looking for a campground I want to make sure that I’m not camped on top of a family with crazed children running wild on red cordial and fresh air. I want to feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere and a part of nature.

I also quite like doing my business on an actual toilet and that’s what makes this campground perfect. The Gums Camping Area offers a small personal campsite with your own fireplace, and when nature calls, some composting toilets. I’ve camped here several times and while there are other people around the campground, your own spot is still very private.

It has the privacy of a hike in campsite with the luxury of being able to drive right up to your spot and enjoy your very own fireplace. Although there are 18 camping spots here, only five of them are suitable for caravans and camper vans, so if that’s how you like to camp, get in quick!

You’ll also find a bunch of shared picnic tables, wood fireplaces, a toilet block, plus a free communal gas BBQ – did someone say campground buddies?

Camping Spots 3 Hours From Melbourne

 

3. Johanna Beach Campground

Location: Great Otway National Park, Great Ocean Road
Distance / Time from Melbourne:
224 km / 2 hours 55 mins
Cost: $28.30 for a 6-person site

With rolling grassy hills to pitch your tent, the ocean so close you can taste it, and dogs permitted on leash, Johanna Beach Campground is perfect for a salty getaway in the Great Otway National Park. It has 25 tent-only campsites which are known to get booked out, so be sure to jump in quick and book your stay.

 

 

Facilities are somewhat limited, with only non flush toilets and no showers available. But who needs to shower when you’re a stone’s throw from the ocean?

It’s got some killer waves and is supposedly the backup spot for the Ripcurl Pro if Bells Beach isn’t firing, so don’t forget to pack your board if you’re keen to slide fins. It can be bloody ferocious though so if in doubt, don’t go out.

If the waves are looking a bit rough, there’s always a buttload of waterfalls and the whole Great Ocean Road to keep you occupied.

The last time I was camping at Johanna Beach, we found bioluminescent algae that’d washed up on the sand. I can’t promise you’ll be lucky enough to see it, but if you come across it, you’ll be treated to glowing footsteps and a night spent stomping around on the sand next to the Southern Ocean.

 

The Best Camping Near Melbourne, shot by Pat Corden, Johanna Beach, Melbourne, Victoria, coastal

Johanna Beach or a Corona ad?

 

4. Tidal River Campground

Location: Wilsons Promontory
Distance / Time from Melbourne:
225 km / 3 hours 15 mins
Cost: $61.40 for an 8-person unpowered site

Wilsons Promontory and Tidal River Campground aren’t exactly a secret. Over 400,000 people visit the Prom annually and it’s one of Victoria’s busiest national parks, partly because it’s got some of the best camping near Melbourne you can find.

It’s got incredible day walks, some of Victoria’s best beaches, wildlife coming out its ears, a couple of standout multi-day walks, and even the Big Drift.

Although Tidal River Campground is a mammoth of a camping area with 484 sites (!!!), it’s incredibly well manages and most of the times I’ve been, it hasn’t felt nearly that packed. For the summer period, you have to go into a ballot to secure a site, and advanced bookings are required at all other times. Check out the Parks Vic page for more information and to book your camping spot. I’d recommend it for the shoulder seasons, March-May and September-November too.

The Best Camping Near Melbourne, shot by Pat Corden, Wilson's Promontory, sand dunes, beach, coastal, victoria, near melbourne

Becoming dune rats at Wilsons Promontory

 

5. Smiths Mill Campground

Location: Grampians National Park
Distance / Time from Melbourne:
271 km / 3 hours 20 mins
Cost: $29.80 for a 6-person site

The Grampians shouldn’t need any introduction. It’s got day walks, waterfalls, lakes, and now an epic 13-day hike to link up all of the Grampian highlights. All around, I’d say it’s one of the best spots in Victoria for a weekend away.

Smiths Mill Campground has 28 camping spots, and a handful can accommodate those living the luxe life in campervans. It also has fireplaces set up for you, so bring some wood and eat like a backcountry king or queen. All of the sites at Smiths Mill Campground need to be booked in advance.

The Grampians is also a popular spot for rock climbing, with thousands of routes. However it’s a bit of a mess at the moment as some issues are being worked out, so make sure to check out where you can and can’t climb.

Otherwise, Arapiles is just around the corner and has absolute world-class climbs for any level (and the best trad climbing in Aus).

 

The Best Camping Near Melbourne, shot by Pat Corden, Grampians, camping, mountain, views, victoria, near melbourne

You don’t have to be on the coast to spot rays – just head to the Grampians

 

6. Princetown Recreation Reserve and Camping

Location: Great Ocean Road
Distance / Time from Melbourne:
233km south-west / 2 hours 50 mins
Cost: $15 for the first person and $5 every person after that

Princetown Recreation Reserve and Camping have all the essentials of a classic Australian beach camping adventure. Undercover BBQ area, picnic tables, hot showers, children’s playground, tennis court, laundry and most importantly kangaroos! You can book both powered and unpowered sites.

It’s also one of the last places on the Great Ocean Road that allows campfires. What even is camping without a fire? Sitting in the dark . . . that’s what.

The Princetown Recreation Reserve and Camping is the perfect central base for sightseeing along the Great Ocean Road. The 12 Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, Melba Gully, Port Campbell and Otway National Parks, The Otway Fly, and The Great Ocean Walk are all within a few kilometres of the reserve.

This is also one of the few campsites where you don’t need to book and can just drive in and pick a spot. Set up the BBQ, fill the esky and relax.

 

 

7. Bunga Arm Campground

Location: Gippsland Lakes
Distance / Time from Melbourne:
285 km / approx. 3 hours
Cost: $22.40 for a 6-person site

Bunga Arm Campground is a little bonus and has a slight catch to it… it’s only accessible by watercraft – boat, kayak, canoe – choose your poison!

If you’re up for the challenge of a paddle, or have a boat on hand, then you’ll be thoroughly rewarded. Bunga Arm Campground is the patch of sand that builds up a barrier between the Pacific Ocean and Lake Victoria.

With mooring points along the beach and campfires, I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend. There are seven separate campgrounds, each with a handful of sites. You’ll be able to spread out and get a bit of space to yourself and it’s unlikely to book out except for around major holidays.

If you can think of a better escape than sailing or paddling (or swimming) to a campsite inaccessible by road, only two hours from Melbourne, let me know. ‘Cause so far this is all I got, and pretty sure it’s also all I need.

 

The Best Camping Near Melbourne, shot by Pat Corden, Gippsland, coastal, beach, camping, astrophotography, campfire, victoria, near melbourne

Gippsland – not for the lactose intolerant

Campgrounds 4 Hours From Melbourne

 

8. Lake Catani Campground

Location: Mt Buffalo National Park
Distance / Time from Melbourne:
343 km / 4 hours
Cost: $50.50 for a 6-person site

Fellow Explorer Casey put it best when she called Mt Buffalo National Park the perfect all season playground.

On the itinerary for summer, you’ve got Rollasons Falls, a dip in Lake Catani itself and enough walks to satisfy Burke and Wills. In winter, there are 10km of marked cross country ski trails, 20km of unmarked trails and unlimited backcountry options. Toboggans are not merely accepted but openly welcomed.

Oh and if that’s not enough, there’s also rock climbing and abseiling. All they need is a point break to surf and I’d never leave.

With all the activities around, Lake Catani Campground is perfect for a quick pit stop or a week-long base camp. The campground has 59 sites, with fireplaces, flushing toilets, picnic tables and even a hot shower. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a certified glamping experience. Some camping spots can accommodate smaller caravans and campervans, with others best suited to tents.

Hot tip! Lake Catani is free during the ski season, but there are only a few sites available. If you’re itching to give snow camping a crack, then this would be a pretty bang on spot to do it. The rest of the year, you’ll need to book a site in advance.

 

The Best Camping Near Melbourne, shot by Pat Corden, mt buffalo, wild swimming, jump, victoria, near melbourne

Wild swimming (and sending) at Mt Buffalo

 

9. Boreang Campground

Location: Grampians National Park
Distance / Time from Melbourne: 260km west / 3.5 hours
Cost: $13.90 a site

Boreang Campground is perfect for beautiful early morning views of the Grampians. It also has fireplaces so you can legally light up your campfire and toast your marshmallows 100% guilt-free. You can either pitch your tent or pull up in a camper trailer.

Boreang Campground is located amongst sheltered woodland on the western side of the Wonderland Range. It’s close to popular attractions in the Central Grampians and is a great base for exploring the Victoria Valley and Victoria Range.

But the best reason to stay here is to wake up early and walk to The Pinnacle! Whichever way you get there, the view from The Pinnacle lookout will astound you.

 

 

I’ve camped here in order to get up early and complete The Pinnacle walk and I suggest you do the same! The campsite fireplaces here are communal making them great for meeting fellow campers to tackle the climb with, and even better if you’ve run out of marshmallows.

 

10. Mount McLeod Campground

Location: Mount Buffalo National Park
Distance / Time from Melbourne: 335km north-east / 4.5 hours
Cost: $7.10 per night for a 2 person campsite

Mount Buffalo National Park has sheer cliffs, imposing granite tors, tumbling waterfalls, snow gums, and stunning wildflowers. The park features over 90km of walking tracks and it’s also absolutely freezing for most of the year.

For some of us, the cold is just as exciting as the beach is for others. I’ve always found it kind of funny to see all the extreme weather gear in Australian camping stores, but if there’s a place where you can truly try them out it’s Mount Buffalo.

Within the park, Mount McLeod Campground provides a remote, hike-in camping experience. It’s accessible along the Mt Mcleod track, located approximately 8km from the Reservoir Picnic area. As this is a hike in campsite, there are no toilets around, so make sure you know how to poo in the bush!

One thing that’s not great about this campsite is the no campfire policy. Considering it’ll be freezing for most of the year, make sure you really do check out that camp store for the super-insulated sleeping bag.

 

First-Time Alpine Hiking On Mt Buffalo (VIC) by Cedric and Melody Tang, XTM Performance jacket, sunset in the snow, backpack

Alpine hiking on Mt Buffalo | @ok.cedric

Leave No Trace

It’s always best to assume that every campground you visit doesn’t have rubbish bins and collection – because 9 times out of 10, they don’t! Come prepared to take out everything you bring in to make sure you leave no trace. Don’t forget the rubbish bags!

The campsites also don’t guarantee drinking water, so bring enough to keep you going for however long you plan to stay. Then bring some more, ‘cause I’ve got a feeling that when you see these spots, you won’t want to leave anytime soon…

 

The Best Camping Near Melbourne, shot by Pat Corden, Gippsland, campfire, beach, coastal, camping, victoria, near melbourne

Bring your own firewood too!

 

Photos by @patcorden unless stated