For those who want to experience the great outdoors without experiencing too much of the great outdoors, there's glamping. These spacious, decked-out bell tents and tiny houses are perfect for getting off the grid and relaxing, while still being able to enjoy a proper bed and (often) plumbing.
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Before you head off for a Victorian adventure, always check the air quality rating, check for closures on the Parks Victoria website, and check fire danger ratings and fire bans for all regions you are travelling to and through. Extreme weather conditions and catastrophic bushfires have led to the closures of many national parks in recent months.
Best glamping spots in Victoria
Best for: Waking up to ocean views
Just 90 minutes from Melbourne is a little island famous for its natural beauty: beaches, hiking and of course, penguins. What better way to embrace it all than by camping, where you’ll tread lightest? Phillip Island Glamping takes all the work out of camping: you book the spot, and they’ll set up a beautiful canvas bell tent, complete with an air mattress and bedding, towels, kitchen appliances and even outdoor table and chairs.
Best for: Exploring acres of fairy-tale gardens
Mirador Springs isn't all that far from the M1. But in the short, winding distance between the highway turnoff and the blessedly well-signposted retreat, you'll go from flat farmland to a mountain of densely wooded eucalypt forest punctuated by laughing kookaburras and warbling maggies. This is glamping as it should be – that is, as far removed from camping as possible (it even features a luxe freestanding bath tub). Arrive while there's still enough daylight to check out the impressive 6 hectares of gardens that feature everything from glassy secret lakes to curious goats.
Best for: Switching off to the sounds of wild animals
Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that giraffes, lions, hippos and meerkats live peacefully 45 minutes from the CBD. What’s more, Werribee Open Range Zoo offers animal-lovers the chance to sleep over in a tented safari lodge. Get up at dawn and head out to your own private balcony – the perfect vantage point to watch beautiful beasts wake up on the African savannah. Your accomodation includes dinner and drinks, a guided night walk and marshmallows by an evening campfire.
Best for: Escaping to a seaside retreat
Pristine beaches, famous wineries and lush hiking tracks await visitors to the Mornington Peninsula; but we reckon you’ll find it hard to leave the campsite that Happy Glamper will set up in time for your arrival. These glamping gurus make every experience feel personal, with colourful bunting, fresh linen, board games and books and magazines. If you’re not a tent person, then they also have a vintage Airstream or restored ’50s caravan named ‘Miss Myrtle’.
Best for: Unwinding in Victoria’s spa capital
Here in a serene camping spot in the Macedon Ranges, you'll wake up to the sounds of birds and the breeze through gum trees. Open the flap of your large canvas tent and you’ll find a box filled with milk, bread and fruit. After breakfast, all of the Daylesford region is yours to explore; treat yourself to a massage at one of the town’s many spas, or soak into the natural mineral waters of the nearby Hepburn Bathhouse.
Best for: Those who like to wake up to the smell of vino.
Balgownie Estate is recognised as one of Australia's premium vineyards. The Homestead includes seven luxe suites to stay in, which are both contemporary and stylish. Outside there are 15 permanent glamping tents to try as well, which have you planted right at the edge of the vineyard. Each tent is fitted with queen size beds and linen, split system air conditioning, a mini bar fridge and tea and coffee facilities. Step outside and there’s your very own outdoor lounge setting, too.
Best for: Going totally wild on a little-visited corner of the state
A short ferry ride from Stony Point on the Mornington Peninsula, secluded French Island National Park – the state’s largest coastal island – is where you go when you need to recharge in nature, far from the madding crowd. Since there’s just one grocery store on the entire island, guests are advised to pack their own food to cook in the communal kitchen, barbecue and fire pit area. Offering towels, toiletries and all the other essentials, French Island Glamping takes care of the rest, leaving visitors free to explore the island, learn about its fascinating history or go on a wildlife spotting tour with Naturaliste Tours.
Prefer a cabin?
Best for: Off-grid adventures
Inspired by the tiny house movement and the wonderful world of #cabinporn on Instagram, Unyoked is an Australian start-up that has launched a bunch of tiny homes in some of the country’s most remote locations. Melbourne has three tiny houses, each only around an hour and a half outside of town.The location of the properties are kept secret until only a few days before you’re scheduled to leave, so it feels like a true off-grid adventure. The cabins are small (they’ve nailed that Scandi minimalist vibe) but manage to fit in all the essentials plus provisions to get your through your stay (hello s'mores).
Best for: Those who want to dine and wine by day and camp by night
Clever use of the 12 square metre-space makes Tiny Stays feel cosy, rather than claustrophobic. Located at the top of a straw-coloured hill about ten minutes' drive from Healesville, the tiny house is ideal for those who want to check out the wineries in the Yarra Valley before retreating to pastoral bliss. Even on chilly days we advise spending your downtime outside the cabin, soaking up postcard perfect views of grazing roos and dense gum forest. There’s even a firepit to keep toasty warm and a stack of board games to keep entertained.
Best for: Pretending you're roughing it in a Tuscan olive grove
There’s a simple pleasure in waking up to the sound of magpies, with sunlight streaming in through gaps in the curtains. At Shacky, your time is yours to spend offline however you like – whether that’s walking through olive groves (and meeting the occasional alpaca), reading beside an open fire or cooking eggs and bacon on a potbelly stove. Driving through dense olive groves, the first glimpse of the tiny house is its sloping terracotta-coloured corrugated iron roof. Shacky’s clever design means that comfort isn’t sacrificed for closeness to nature.