The Best Camping Spots Just Outside Melbourne
Getaways with the squad can blow out into big, snarling, wallet devouring weekends which, whilst not all bad, is not ideal for anybody eating mi goreng for dinner each night. Here are a few favourite weekend getaways and some lesser-known ones that won’t break the bank. These destinations are close enough to Melbourne to require minimal organisation but just isolated enough to hold that rush of excitement of visiting somewhere new.
1. Wilson’s Promontory
Worth braving the cold and wind, this famous National Park two and a half hours southeast of the city is popular with students and hikers for good reason. Whether surfing at Tidal River, squelching your toes at Squeaky Beach or hiking up Mount Oberon, camping at the Prom is great for the outdoorsy (and those with gnarly down jackets, blankets and polar fleeces). A great tip is to camp by the Fourth Ramp closest to the beach because it is slightly quieter and you are unlikely to be in earshot of school or tour groups.
How Much?: From $54.90 for eight, per night.
Find out more at www.parkstay.vic.gov.au.
A local gem, ‘Coota is a fantastic beach escape with beautiful beaches, surf and a stunning lake system great for fishing or just admiring the view. It is a bit of a trek at six hours’ drive north of Melbourne but the farther north you go, the warmer it gets for those beach bonfire nights! With plenty of camping grounds, affordable cabins and BnBs, don’t forget to trawl the local op shops for treasures and check out the beautiful Secret Beach for a cheeky swim all to yourself. Waterfront campsites are definitely the most coveted but wifi covers the entire campgrounds so wherever you choose to erect your tent, you can’t really lose.
How Much?: From $15.90 for two, per night.
Find out more at visitmallacoota.com.au.
3. Phillip Island
A favourite among Melbournians, Phillip Island is the Chris Hemsworth of relaxing weekends – universally loved and brimming with good times and belly laughs. In fact, the Hemsworth brothers actually grew up here so if that isn’t endorsement enough, I don’t know what is. There are a whole slew of Air BnBs, Gumtree rentals and camping opportunities for those watching their bank balance. Great for excellent fish and chips, shops, surfing, pier jumping and fantastic pub atmosphere in Cowes. Smith’s Beach is probably the nicest beach on the Island and safest for surfing so renting a nearby house is a great option. Otherwise, grab a tent and hit the Cowes beachfront caravan park, ideally located between the beach and shopping strip.
How Much?: Camp at Cowes from $31 for four, per night.
Find out more at www.visitphillipisland.com.
On the way down to Philip Island you may want to stop at Kilcunda Retreat, recommended for its fantastic location, kind hosts and clean cabins. Nestled right on the cliffs, on the George Bass Walking Track, this is a great place for watching the ocean and strolling along the rocky path. The chai lattes at the Kilcunda General Store across the road are motivation enough to get up in the mornings. This campground is quite a bit smaller than others in Victoria but any campsite near the cliffs is sure to have great views.
How Much?: $35 for two, per night.
Find out more at kilcundaoceanview.com.au.
5. Mornington Peninsula
The Peninsula is truly a hidden jewel, so close to the city but with a vibe that feels like a world away from the bustling CBD. Full of world-class coffee roasters, great pubs and boutique shops and art galleries – a weekend down the ‘Ninch is a little bit of magic and a beautiful drive through the Australia outback. Surfing and beaching are of course popular but there is also tree surfing, mazes, wineries and some great hikes in the area, including Bushranger’s Bay Walking Track. Commonfolk Coffee and Mr Curtis are some of the best local foodie secrets so be sure to take a look while you’re down there. If you’ve got tents, Point Leo has the best camping options and the most central location while maintaining that ‘outback’ feel. Other popular spots include the Rosebud and Rye foreshore camping grounds.
How Much?: Camp at Point Leo from $37 for two, per night.
Find out more at www.travelvictoria.com.au.
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