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Two people sitting on a picnic table at Lake Catani
Photograph: David Kirkland

The best campsites near Melbourne

You don't need to drive for long to find some sweet camping spots near Melbourne

By Time Out editors
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The best thing about the great outdoors is that it’s for everyone to enjoy – whether you’re an experienced caravanner, a glamper or a fresh-faced camper. The most important thing to remember though is this is a shared space you’re setting your tent down in, not your own backyard. When camping out at one of these great campsites around Victoria remember to be respectful, clean up after yourself and take heed of travel advice and closures from Parks Victoria


Not too sure if camping is for you? Here’s where you can go glamping around Victoria.

Top campsites near Melbourne

Cumberland Walk
Photograph: Robert Blackburn

1. Cumberland River Holiday Park, Lorne

Travel Lorne

When a caravan park offers itself as a location for wedding photos, you know it must have something going for it scenically. No fake sunset backdrops here, but the real thing: a stunning natural setting near the mouth of the Cumberland River. Craggy cliffs tower over the campground, which is backed by great walking tracks and fronted by the Great Ocean Road. Book well ahead for a prime riverfront site.

2. Tidal River, Wilsons Promontory

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It’s the biggest national-park campground in the state, hosting up to 3,000 campers at a time. So where are they all? The expansive beach and the extensive network of hiking trails absorb the crowds and still leave space for privately contemplating the reflections in Tidal River at dusk. Catch a movie at the outdoor cinema or watch the live show in the campground: wombats, wallabies and echidnas doing their thing.

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3. Johanna Beach, Great Ocean Road

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Surf’s up, guaranteed. Johanna Beach is a back-up location for the Rip Curl Pro surfing comp in case Bells Beach is dead flat. As the tournament’s website says, ‘If there is any swell in the Southern Ocean, Johanna will pick it up. If the sand banks are in great shape, you can get some of the best beachbreak waves in the world out there.’ The open grassy space behind the beach is the Great Ocean Road’s greatest free campground.

4. Marengo Holiday Park, Apollo Bay

Travel Marengo

One of the whitest, sparkling-est, beaches on the Great Ocean Road is right here at Marengo Holiday Park and you don’t even need to cross the street to get to the water. Enrol in surf school, practise yoga on the beach or rent a sea kayak – the shops and services in Apollo Bay, within walking distance, can sort everything you need.

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Lake Catani, Mount Buffalo
Photograph: David Kirkland

5. Lake Catani, Mount Buffalo

Travel

Get in quick: Lake Catani campground is open till the end of April, then it closes for the snow season. Autumn is a top time of year to visit the high country – Bright and Beechworth are ablaze with deciduous colour and the farm gates of the Milawa gourmet trail are in full production. The air is crisp for invigorating walks on the Mt Buffalo plateau, followed by a hot shower at the campground, where peaceful campsites are nestled among the snow gums.

How about a hike too?

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