Camping for families: the most beautiful spots in Victoria
Home to the fastest-growing city in the nation, the state of Victoria also boasts some spectacular natural assets. From alpine forests, to the iconic Great Ocean Road and the wild mallee country, there are plenty of places to escape the clanging of tram bells and clinking of latte glasses. What’s more, the small state of Victoria can take you from central Melbourne to any of its borders in less than a day. Here are six of the best camping spots for families with a sense of adventure.
1. The pristine south-west coast
The sharp twists and turns of the Great Ocean Road are dotted with family-friendly camping spots every few kilometres. You won’t be disappointed to find yourself camping in the well-known towns along this route such as Lorne or Apollo Bay. However, if you really want to soak up the vast wilderness of the Otway ranges our pick for sleeping out ahead of the busier coastal neighbours is the beautiful and secluded Lake Elizabeth.
Nestled in the awe-inspiring old-growth forest near the aptly named town of Forrest, the Lake Elizabeth camp ground is at the starting point of a truly beautiful lake and bushwalk. Platypus thrive in the pristine waters of the lake, which you can explore via canoe through a local provider. You can take your pick of several easy walks in the area, visit the local berry farms during the summer months, or take a drive to beaches along the nearby coast.
There’s even a fabulous hidden swimming hole in a nearby quarry (ask the locals for directions!), as well as a general store with fresh sourdough bread and a local brewery with great food and beer. And, you’re on the doorstop of some of the best rural cycling around. Maps and information are found through tourism operators and the visitvictoria website.
Just a short drive away you’ll also find the incredible Trees Adventure – an obstacle course suitable for kids and adults high up in the tree-tops, complete with flying foxes and treehouses.
2. A south-east island getaway
Taking the ferry to a secluded wilderness might seem like something out of a fairytale, but that’s exactly what you can do in a little over an hour from Melbourne when you visit French Island. Accessible only by boat French Island National Park offers a real escape from modern life. Home to a huge koala population, two-thirds of the island is a national park.
It boasts great walking and cycling options for mobile families and good camping at Fairhaven. It’s quiet, very quiet out here. So, this spot is one for families with the ability to really enjoy all that nature has to offer without missing their WIFI.
3. High country lakes
Tens of thousands of years of human history can be traced through the majestic beauty of the Victorian Alps. Whether you’re there to connect and learn about the Duduora people, along with the Quat Quatta and Minjambutta clans, or you’re keen to explore more recent stories of cattlemen, Kelly and Banjo Patterson, you can immerse yourself in these stories right here.
Deep in the heart of the Mount Buffalo National Park you’ll find the idyllic Lake Catani campground. From this super family-friendly spot you can easily set out to discover waterfalls and soak up the atmosphere of the rare Snow Gum woodlands. The Lakeside Day Visitor Area adjacent to the campground offers swimming and canoeing in the summer months, and everything from cycling to photography tours in the months when swimming is firmly off the agenda.
Check out this list of Lake Catani activities, sure to whet the appetite for more. The quaint towns of Bright and Myrtleford are nearby, which offer an incredible natural show of autumn colour even as the summer crowds are fading. And, there’s even an autumn festival to make the trip more worthwhile.
4. The Murray-Darling
There are some seriously remote camping spots in the north-west of the state, as well as the popular town of Mildura on the Murray River with its paddleboats, fishing and water sports. The vast Hattah-Kulkyne National Park, as well as the populated areas around Mildura offer an abundance of camping options.
Among the most family-friendly spots to camp in the Murray River region is Christie’s Beach in Echuca. It has facilities including toilets, offers a great vantage point to explore the region, and is also pet-friendly. Pack a picnic and head to one of the waterfalls and rockpools located in the park. The Venus Baths Loop offers an easy walk for even the smallest family members.
For a more nature-centric experience a little further afield, the Gunbower National Park (PDF 5.6MB) is a must-see, with camping options along the creek. As an internationally recognised Ramsar site, the Gunbower waterways are a sight to behold for bird-lovers.
5. The awe-inspiring Grampians
It covers over 1500 square kilometres and offers incredible views across the agricultural heart of Victoria. It’s tough to choose one place to camp in the Grampians, but among the best spots for families are the Borough Huts campsite and Wannon Crossing. Both are close to Halls Gap for exploring as well as stocking up on essential supplies.
While the main attraction across the Grampians is the incredible natural beauty and wildlife, depending on the age of any kids in your group you’ll likely need some less arduous activities aside from bushwalking. The Brambuk Cultural Centre in Halls Gap provides one such not-to-be-missed opportunity. The building itself makes a great spot to visit, and there are always kid-friendly activities to take part in, including boomerang throwing and the theatre which shows the Gariwerd dreaming story.
6. Green hills of Gippsland
No camping list of Victoria would be complete without mentioning Wilson’s Promontory. However, it can be tough to get a spot in the family-friendly Tidal River camp ground during school holidays and the summer months. For more options, the entire Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park offers many camping options. You can find a hive of social activity, or some more serenity if that’s what you’re after.
If you have your fishing licence, the area offers great shoreline fishing at nearby Ninety Mile Beach, or lake fishing from your boat or the jetty. Boat tours, paddleboarding, four-wheel drive and cycling activities are all available through local tourism operators. Some of the best camping in the area, where you might be fortunate enough to see seals and the abundant birdlife include Paradise Beach, or if you can get there by boat, Bunga Arm.