Melbourne may be the most liveable city in the world but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be escaped every now and then. Explorer Andrew shares his top 5 camping escapes.
Luckily for those of us in Melbourne, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to accessible parks and wilderness to explore. We have so much to explore in all directions and deciding where to head for a camping adventure can be tough! I’ve put together a list of campsites that are all perfect for different reasons and each will give you a different experience in the great state of Victoria!
# 1 The Comfortable Bush Camp
King lake National Park, The Gums
65 Kilometres North of Melbourne
Personally, when looking for a campsite I want to make sure that I am 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 am part of nature. I want to be able to light my camp fire, sit back and listen to the sounds of the bush and look up at the stars (and drink a few tinnies).
I also quite like doing my business on an actual toilet and that’s what makes this campsite perfect. A Small personal campsite with YOUR OWN fire place and for when nature calls, some composting toilets. I have camped here several times and while there are others in the campsite, 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 campsite and enjoy your very own fireplace.
# 2 The Base Camp
The Grampians National Park, Boreang Campground
260 Kilometres West of Melbourne
This campsite is perfect for beautiful early morning views of the Grampians and also has fire places so you can legally light up your campfire and toast your marshmallows 100% guilt free. Boreang Campground is located amongst sheltered woodland on the western side of the Wonderland Range. It is close to popular attractions in the Central Grampians and is a great base for exploring the Victoria Valley and Victoria Range.
The Best reason to stay here however is to wake up early and walk to the pinnacle! Whichever way you get there, the view from The Pinnacle lookout will astound you. While you get your breath back after your ascent, you will be able to see Halls Gap far below you, as well as Lake Bellfield. Plus you will get a close-up look at the irregular and fascinating rock formations for which the Grampians are so well-known. 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 and are shared between a few sites. It’s great for meeting fellow campers to tackle the climb with and even better if you have run out of marshmallows.
# 3 The Aussie Classic
The Great Ocean Road, Princetown Recreation Reserve and Camping Ground
233 Kilometres South west of Melbourne
This place has 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! It is 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, G.O.R.G.E Chocolates and The Great Ocean Walk are all within a few km of the Reserve. This is also one of the few campsite 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.
# 4 The Highland Escape
Mount Buffalo National Park, Mount McLeod Campground
335 Kilometres North East of Melbourne
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 is also absolutely freezing for most of the year. For some of us this is just as exciting as the beach is for others. Just as prawns for Christmas lunch can make Australians seem strange to outsiders, so too can camping in the heat, shirt off and cricket bat in hand.
I have always found it kind of funny to see all the extreme weather gear in Australian camping stores but if there is a place where you can truly try them out it is Mount Buffalo. Within the park, Mount McLeod Campground provides a remote, hike in camping experience. It is accessible along the Mt Mcleod track, located approximately 8km from the Reservoir Picnic area. One thing that is not great about this campsite is the no campfire policy. Considering it will be freezing for most of the year, make sure you really do check out that camp store for the super insulated sleeping bag.
# 5 The Music Festival
Meredith Music Festival, Meredith
115 Kilometres West of Melbourne
The music festival is where most of us first graduated from camping with parents to camping with our pals. For me personally it was camping in Sydney at the Great Escape Festival 2006. Probably the best time of my life to date and as much of a wild experience as camping can be. So wild in fact the festival only lasted two years. A festival that has much more heritage and a more cultured attendance is the Meredith festival.
The Meredith Music Festival (otherwise known simply as Meredith or MMF) is a three-day outdoor music festival held every December at the “Supernatural Amphitheatre” There are two things about this festival that make it a standout, the fact that there is just one stage so you never have a clash and the second is the fact that it is BYO into the campgrounds. Getting a ticket however can be a little tricky so make sure all your friends enter the ballot!
Great camping around the country