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Camping

In addition to the many caravan and camping parks throughout Victoria, there are hundreds of camping grounds throughout the state in national and state parks and reserves. Standards vary from bush camping with little or no facilities, through campgrounds with basic facilities such as water, pit toilets, fireplaces and tables, to serviced camping areas with flushing toilets, showers, tables, barbecues and laundries. Some of the very popular sites may require bookings, particularly during summer, so it's important to check availability before heading to an area.

Camping near Melbourne

Some of the most popular camping areas are the foreshore reserves on the Mornington Peninsula. These are located at Balnarring, Point Leo and Shoreham on the Western Port side of the peninsula, and Dromana, Rosebud, Rye and Sorrento on the Port Phillip side. Many are only open during the warmer months of the year and it's advisable to book early.

Not far out of Melbourne, to the west near Bacchus Marsh, is the Lerderderg State Park which has a camping area at O'Briens Crossing. The Cathedral Range State Park, north-east of Melbourne near Marysville, allows camping beside a mountain stream at Cooks Mill, Neds Gully or the Farmyard. Another good spot to camp is amongst the eucalypts at the Upper Yarra Reservoir Park near Warburton.

Further information:
- Mornington Peninsula foreshore camping: www.mornpen.vic.gov.au
- Cathedral Range State Park www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Lerderderg State Park www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Upper Yarra Reservoir Park www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

Camping in Gippsland

South-east of Melbourne is one of the state's most popular camping areas - Wilsons Promontory. Tidal River is the Prom's tourism centre and has over 480 campsites. The area is so popular that sites are allocated on a ballot system for the five-week Christmas holiday period. There are also a further eleven camping areas within the national park catering for overnight walkers, which are only accessible on foot.

Spread along the Ninety Mile Beach, between Seaspray and Golden Beach, are around 20 camping areas separated from the beach by a line of sand dunes. These are ideal sites for those doing some beach fishing or just for a relaxing break by the sea. Most are provided free for visitors to use.

Another camping ground so popular that it requires a ballot to allocate sites during the main holiday period is the Banksia Bluff campground in the Cape Conran Coastal Park near Marlo. Facilities include septic toilets and cold showers.

For riverside camping, try Anglers Rest, north-west of Omeo, where you can camp beside the Mitta Mitta River.

In the eastern corner of the state near Mallacoota and Cann River, the Croajingolong National Park has some good areas for peaceful bush camping. The largest of these is near the mouth of the Thurra River. There are 46 sites located between the river and the ocean. Bookings are required for the Christmas and Easter holiday periods. Other camping spots within Croajingolong National Park are at Wingan Inlet, which has campsites amongst bloodwood forest, the Peachtree Creek campground on the banks of the Cann River, and Mueller River campground on the shore of Mueller Inlet.

Further information:
- Wilsons Promontory National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Croajingolong National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

Camping in the High Country

Victoria's High Country in the north-east has many places ideal for bush camping.

For a unique experience, try snow camping and wake up in a winter wonderland on the Bogong High Plains near Falls Creek and Mount Beauty.

For summer camping, the Lake Catani campground at Mount Buffalo, near Porepunkah, has 49 sites set amongst snow gum forest. The campground is open from November to April each year and bookings are essential in peak periods. Several sites are suitable for small caravans or campervans, and there is also a walk-in area for those wanting a more secluded site.

There are several small campgrounds around Bright and the Buckland Valley. For riverside camping, try the King River at Edi Cutting, south of Wangaratta.

Lake Eildon is a popular holiday spot, with camping allowed in the national park at Jerusalem Creek and the Fraser area, which encompasses the Candlebark, Lakeside and Devil's Cove camping areas. There are also more remote campsites that can be accessed by boat or on foot.

Further information:
- Alpine National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Lake Eildon National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Mount Buffalo National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

Camping along the Murray River

The Murray River features numerous campgrounds along its length.

Between Wodonga and Rutherglen, Richardsons Bend and Doolans Bend are good spots. Near Yarrawonga, try Forges Beach. Horseshoe Lagoon, near Cobram, has good bush camping though no facilities.

The Barmah National Park, near Echuca, has fireplaces, tables and toilets in the Barmah Lakes area, with bush camping also allowed along other parts of the river. Beware of camping under river red gums though as they are prone to dropping branches without warning. Also near Echuca, Christies Beach and Betts Beach both have good riverside camping. Christies Beach has toilets, fireplaces and tables, while Betts Beach has no facilities.

At Cohuna, you can camp on Gunbower Island.

In the Swan Hill region, there are bush camping areas in the Nyah-Vinifera Park.

For camping by a sandy riverside beach near Mildura, try Bruces Bend or the Merbein Common.

Also in the state's north-western corner, the Murray-Sunset National Park has several camping areas, including one at the southern end of Lake Crosbie, one of the Pink Lakes. Four of the lakes in this park turn pink in summer when algae in the water secrete carotene, a red pigment. Access is off the Mallee Highway west of Ouyen.

Further information:
- Barmah National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Gunbower National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- River Murray Reserve, from headwaters to Mildura: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Murray-Sunset National Park : www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Nyah-Vinifera Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

Camping in the Grampians

The Grampians National Park, which surrounds the town of Halls Gap, has a number of camping areas throughout the park in a variety of settings, including forests, open areas, old timber mill sites, and beside a river or stream. Each campground has toilets, tables and fireplaces but you need to provide your own drinking water. Among the larger campgrounds are Stapylton, which has open and sheltered sites, and Smith Mill, set amongst pines at an old mill site. Both of these have twenty-five sites and are in the northern part of the park. A couple of the smaller camping areas are Wannon Crossing, beside the Wannon River in the south-east section of the park, and Buandik, which is in forest near Aboriginal art sites in the park's south-west. Bush camping is also permitted throughout much of the park.

In the Langi Ghiran State Park, between Ararat and Beaufort, a popular bush camping spot is alongside Hidden Lagoon, between the two peaks. There is also a camping area at the end of Kartuk Road.

The Little Desert National Park has campgrounds on the banks of the Wimmera River at Horseshoe Bend and Ackle Bend, near Dimboola. There are several walking tracks leading from the latter area. Camping is also allowed in the more remote central and western sections of the park.

In the far north-west of the Grampians region, camping is popular on the shores of Lake Albacutya and Lake Hindmarsh, near Jeparit, Rainbow and Yaapeet. Both have a number of camping areas, some with basic facilities of pit toilets and fireplaces, and others with no facilities.

Further information:
- Grampians National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Langi Ghiran State Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Lake Albacutya Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Little Desert National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au

Camping along the Great Ocean Road

There are a number of good camping areas along the Great Ocean Road, including at Kennett River, Wye River and Cumberland River, all between Apollo Bay and Lorne. At each of these, you can camp beside the respective rivers, with beach views also available at Kennett and Wye rivers.

The Great Otway National Park is another region popular with campers. There are numerous camping areas throughout the park. Sizes range from just a couple of sites through to a few campgrounds with 50 sites. Settings include open areas, amongst pines, and near the beach. Facilities include picnic tables and fireplaces. Most of the larger campgrounds have toilets. The Blanket Bay campground is extremely popular and a ballot system applies to bookings for the summer holidays and Easter. Other good campgrounds in the park include Aire River, Lake Elizabeth, and behind the sand dunes at Johanna Beach.

The Lower Glenelg National Park, in the south-west corner of Victoria near Portland and Nelson, has a number of camping areas along the Glenelg River. Some can be accessed by car, while there are others set up for canoeists, which can only be reached by water. All camping areas in the park have water, fireplaces and toilets.

In the Mount Eccles National Park near Heywood and Macarthur, you can camp near Lake Surprise. The lake is located in the craters of three volcanoes that were active in the area around 20,000 years ago. The campground has 20 sites, and facilities include hot showers and toilets. Bookings are required at peak times. The park's geological features include lava flows and caves, and scoria cones.

Further information:
- Great Otway National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Lower Glenelg National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au
- Mount Eccles National Park: www.parkweb.vic.gov.au