Victoria is a camper’s haven.  From lush bushland and crystal clear lakes, to sublime coastlines and rivers teeming with marine life, there’s no shortage of beautiful campsites to be found in Australia’s Southeastern corner. Having lived in Melbourne for half a year, I’ve spent many a weekend escaping the bustle of the city to scope out the incredible camp spots that this diverse state has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a chilled weekend out of the city, or an overnight hike to a more remote location, check out my roundup of the best camping spots in Victoria

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  1. Best Coastal Camping in Victoria
  2. Best Bush Camping in Victoria
  3. Best Lake Camping in Victoria
  4. Best River Camping in Victoria

Best Coastal Camping in Victoria

Coastal camping is something special – nothing beats falling asleep to the peaceful sound of the waves, then waking up to a sunrise dip in the ocean. There are so many hidden gems along Victoria’s beautiful coastline, with many incredible campsites to experience.

1. Refuge Cove Camping Area

Situated 3.5 hours south-east of Melbourne, Wilsons Prom is absolutely not to be missed if clear blue water and white sand beaches are your thing. Refuge Cove is an epic stop on the famous Southern Circuit – a 58km loop circling the southernmost point of mainland Australia. Taking 3-5 days to complete, the circuit stops at many stunningly beautiful campsites, including Refuge Cove. The campground is nestled in the bush, backing on to a secluded cove that is reminiscent of a desert island, with golden sand and clear green-toned water. Some other epic campsites on the trail include Sealers Cove, Little Waterloo Bay, and Oberon Bay. It’s worth noting that although booking is mandatory on the Southern Circuit, you can’t book a specific site, so make sure you get there with plenty of time to spare to bag a good spot. If overnight hiking isn’t your thing, you can explore the many beautiful day hikes the prom has to offer by camping at Tidal River (the prom’s only car camping site).

Location: Wilsons Promontory National Park

Camping Type: Hike-in, unpowered

Number of Campsites: Max capacity 60

Facilities: Non-flush toilets, unfiltered tap

Cost: $7.50 per person per night

How to Book: Parks Victoria Website

Refuge Cove at Wilsons Prom
Refuge Cove, Wilsons Prom

2. Blanket Bay Campground

A must-see for anyone visiting Victoria, the Great Ocean Road truly needs no introduction. Not only is it home to sublime coastlines, bushwalks and waterfalls,  but it’s also jam-packed full of incredible campsites, making it the perfect destination for a camping road trip. My favourite camp spot on the GOR is Blanket Bay – a secluded seaside campground that caters to car camping, campervans/trailers, and walkers hiking the famous Great Ocean Walk. Blanket Bay is set amongst the gum trees of the Otways, and if you take a walk inland within a few metres of the campground, you’ll likely find a koala hanging out on a nearby tree trunk. The beautiful bay is well-sheltered by the sloping hills of the national park and is home to intertidal rock pools hosting a variety of marine life. This is a popular campsite so make sure you book well in advance, and I’d recommend trying to get a spot overlooking the ocean to take in the breathtaking sunrise from the comfort of your tent. Alternatively, another great option further west along the Road is the equally beautiful Johanna Beach.

Location: Great Otway National Park on the Great Ocean Road

Camping Type: Tents (no caravans), hike-in camping, unpowered

Number of Campsites: 22 (max capacity 6)

Facilities: Non-flush toilets, picnic tables, shared fire pits, unfiltered taps

Cost: $15/night

How to Book: Parks Vic Website

Setting up camp at Blanket Bay Campground
Blanket Bay, The Otways

Best Bush Camping in Victoria 

There are so many great campsites available in Victoria’s state and national parks, giving you the opportunity to experience some incredible hiking, stargazing, and native wildlife.

3. Smiths Mill Campground

A trip to the Grampians is guaranteed to be packed full of hikes that reward with the most jaw dropping mountain views. There are also many great spots to camp, and Smiths Mill Campground is one of the best in the national park in terms of location, facilities, and surroundings. Nestled right within bushland so you really feel like you’re at one with nature, you’re almost guaranteed to have an encounter with local wildlife, including kangaroos and emus who will come out to say hello when dinner time rolls around. Centrally located within close proximity to Halls Gap, there’s no shortage of hikes to tick off when you stay here, with the roaring Mackenzie Falls just a short walk away, many of the popular sunset and sunrise lookout spots nearby, and the famous Pinnacle hike only 5 minutes by car. For a challenging day hike, my personal favourite in the Grampians is Mount Abrupt, or if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, give the Grampians Peak Trail a go – a 13-day hike spanning 164km with some epic hike-in campsites on offer.

Location: The Grampians National Park

Camping Type: Tents, camper/caravan, unpowered

Number of Campsites: 33 (28 tent, 5 camper/caravan)

Facilities: Non-flush toilets, bush showers, shared fire pits, unfiltered tap, picnic benches

Cost: $15/night

How to Book: Parks Vic Website

Emus at Smiths Mill Campground
Emus at Smiths Mill Campground, The Grampians

4. Neds Gully Camping Area

Only a 2 hour drive from Melbourne, the Cathedral Ranges offers a great opportunity to escape the city and immerse yourself in bushland for a night or two. Neds Gully is a tranquil spot right in the middle of the woodland, offering up some amazing trails right on your doorstep. Hike up to the rocky ridge of Neds Peak and reward yourself with expansive views of the ruggedly beautiful Cathedral Ranges, or take a stroll down the Little River – where you might just catch a glimpse of a koala dozing in the treetops. This site is only accessible by foot, via a short walk over a foot bridge. This means you’ll have to leave the car behind and fully immerse yourself in nature – which, for me, only adds to the unique charm of this cosy campground. If you’re looking for a car-friendly site in the Cathedral Ranges, try Cooks Mill Camping Area.

Location: Cathedral Ranges State Park

Camping Type: Tents only, unpowered

Facilities: Non-flush toilets, shared fire pits

Cost: $15/night

How to Book: Parks Vic Website

Camping at the Cathedral Ranges
Camping at the Cathedral Ranges (source: Parks Vic)

Best Lake Camping in Victoria

Camping by a lake offers a level of serenity that is hard to match, and Victoria is home to many incredible lakes. Lakeside camping also gives you the opportunity to get out on the water without having to worry about tides or currents  – there’s nothing quite as scenic as a sunrise paddle!

5. Candlebark Campground

Located around 2.5 hours north-east of Melbourne, Lake Eildon National Park is paradise for watersports lovers. This winding lake set against the magnificent Victorian Alps is a go-to destination in the summer for swimmers, canoers, paddleboarders, waterskiers, sailers and fishers. You don’t need to be a water lover to enjoy this camp spot though – Eildon is home to a variety of epic trails, including Blowhard Summit which offers incredible views of the lake and surrounding mountains. There are plenty of campsites to choose from around Lake Eildon, and Candlebark Campground is probably the most well-equipped. Part of the Fraser Camping Area and nestled in the beautiful Coller Bay, it’s a great location for families and groups who are looking to spend a weekend of fun out on the lake. If you’re looking for a little more tranquillity, try Devil Cove Campground (only open during peak periods).

Location: Lake Eildon National Park

Camping Type: Tents, caravans/campervans, unpowered

Facilities: Showers, flush toilets, drinking water, picnic tables, shared fire pits, gas barbecues, boat ramp

Cost: $27/night

How to Book: Parks Vic Website

Paddleboarding on Lake Eildon
Paddleboarding on Lake Eildon (credit: Parks Vic)

6. Lake Catani Campground

Mount Buffalo National Park is an absolute must-visit for anyone in Victoria who loves the outdoors, and Lake Catani is the perfect campground to base yourself to enjoy everything this alpine environment has to offer. Nestled within Snow Gum woodland, it’s located just a stone’s throw away from the picturesque Lake Catani, where you’ll be able to enjoy early morning dips and scenic sunset paddles. Perched at 1300m above sea level, it’s a great spot to escape that intense summer heat and take in the beauty of the Victorian alpine. There’s no shortage of swimming spots and hiking trails just a short drive away from this campground through the incredibly scenic Mount Buffalo Road, including the Cathedral and Ladies Bath Falls. This site books out well in advance in the summer months, but if you’re feeling brave enough to face the snow, no bookings are required in the winter.

Location: Mount Buffalo National Park

Camping Type: Car camping, caravans/campervans, walk-in sites, unpowered

Number of Campsites: 49

Facilities: Showers, non-flush toilets, untreated water, picnic tables, shared fire pits, solid fuel bbqs, firewood available for purchase, general waste and recycling bins, sinks

Cost: $27/night

How to Book: Parks Vic Website

The Cathedral at Mt Buffalo
The Cathedral, Mount Buffalo

Best River Camping in Victoria

Deep in the bushland or near the ocean, there’s something unique about setting up camp on the tranquil banks of a river. Victoria has plenty of river camping spots with the opportunity to fish, hike, or just simply relax and enjoy the peaceful sound of the water.

7. Dungalla (Murray River) Camping Area

If river camping is your thing, it doesn’t get much better than the Murray. A welcome escape from Melbourne’s unpredictable weather, head north to Australia’s longest river on the VIC/NSW border for a wilder camping experience at Barmah National Park. With plenty of opportunities for fishing, swimming, and boating, as well as a number of walks that trail through the largest River Red Gum forest in the world,  the natural surroundings of the Murray are unbeatable. There are many free camping spots along the river with no bookings required. Just keep in mind that there are no facilities so you’ll need to be fully self-sufficient – which just adds to the peaceful nature of the surroundings. Campfires are permitted in the fireplaces provided, so make sure you pack some marshmallows for a midnight snack or two!

Location: Barmah National Park

Camping Type: Free camping

Facilities: Fire pits

Cost: Free

How to Book: No bookings required

Barmah National Park
Barmah National Park (source: Parks Vic)

8. Aire River West Campground

Another one of the many great campsites in the Otways, Aire River West makes for an excellent camping spot on any Great Ocean Road trip. Ideal for those who want to experience the contrast of the calm waterways of the Otways and the wild ocean of the Road, it really does have something to offer everyone. Paddle upstream to explore the scenic waterways, catch a wide variety of fish, or get your surf on at Aire River Beach which is only a 15-minute walk away. You’ll even be able to chase the sun and watch it rise over the ocean, then set across the river and behind the sloping hills of the Otway Ranges. Alternatively, Aire River East Campground is smaller (potentially quieter) and more protected from the weather. This is a great palace to base yourself to experience all that the Otways and Great Ocean Road has to offer.

Location: Great Otway National Park

Camping Type: Car camping, caravans/campervans, unpowered

Number of Campsites: 40

Facilities: Drop toilets, untreated water, picnic tables, shared fire pits with hot plates, boat ramp

Cost: $15/night

How to Book: Parks Vic Website

Hopetoun Falls, The Otways
Hopetoun Falls, The Otways

Shop Camping Equipment at Paddy Pallin

Whether you want to fall asleep by the mountains, coast, lakes, or rivers, Victoria has a wide range of experiences for every kind of camper – so get out there and explore the natural beauty that this incredible state has to offer!

Inspired to spend a few nights in nature? Get geared up and shop Paddy Pallin’s range of camping equipment today.

About The Author

Darcy Smith

Darcy is an outdoor lover from the east coast of Scotland who is trying out life in Australia. Having travelled through much of Europe and Asia, her favourite place in the world remains the Scottish Highlands. Darcy loves hiking, camping, bulldogs, brunch and sunsets.

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