Looking for the perfect place to pitch a tent in Victoria? There are plenty of campsites across the state – some best suited to experienced campers, others boasting so many facilities, it feels like you could get by with just a sleeping bag and a tent. Plan ahead for the perfect nature spot in the busy summer months, or try your luck at free campgrounds that are accessible only by foot, 4WD – or even boat.

Book ahead at the state's busiest campgrounds to avoid disappointment and check road and weather conditions before you set out. Ensure you have the correct gear needed for your camping adventure in Victoria.

1. Fairhaven Campground

Enigmatic French Island offers the best of both worlds – while it feels remote, it's actually not that difficult to get to from Melbourne. Once you've crossed Western Port Bay by ferry, it's a five-kilometre walk or bike ride from Tankerton Jetty to Fairhaven Campground.

It's free to pitch a tent here, but sites must be booked in advanced via the Parks Victoria website. Facilities include toilets, shared picnic tables and cooking area, and gas barbecues. Tank water is provided, with treatment or purification recommended before use.

From the campground, you can easily access the Fairhaven Northern Beach Walk, or West Coast Wetlands Walking Track. Visit in spring to see an array of wildflowers in bloom. Keep an eye out for shorebirds and migratory waders, and local wildlife.

2. BIG4 Ingenia Holidays Phillip Island

Escape to beautiful Phillip Island, one of the best places to pitch a tent within cooee of Melbourne. This campground sits on a nature reserve near Newhaven Beach and has just about all you need to keep comfortable, including toilets, showers, a kiosk and modern camp kitchen. You'll be in prime position to enjoy coastal walks, lazy afternoons at cosy wineries, and the animal experiences the island is best known for.

Pets are permitted at unpowered sites on a seasonal basis – check dates before booking.

3. Wilsons Promontory National Park

Spend a few wild days exploring beloved Wilsons Prom. Tidal River Campground is a popular camping spot, and one of the biggest in the state, with room for almost 500 tents. Close to some of the national park's best beaches and walks, you can choose between powered and unpowered sites. Facilities include toilets, hot showers, barbecue stations and laundry services. Drinking water and bins are provided. The campground books out fast in summer, particularly over the holiday season. Secure your spot well in advance to avoid disappointment.

For something a little more secluded, pitch a tent at Refuge Cove Camping Area. The campsite can only be accessed on foot or by boat. Hike-in via the walking tracks from Sealers Cove or Little Waterloo Bay. Basic toilet facilities are available at the campsite. Overnight hikers must obtain a permit (either online or from the Tidal River Visitor's Centre), with only two night's stay available at a time.

4. Banksia Bluff Campground

This beautiful campground offers around 130 unpowered sites in Gippsland's Cape Conrad Coastal Park. The grounds are a stone's throw from the beach and contain toilets, outdoor showers, bins and campfire rings. Some of the sites are dog-friendly – make sure you book before arriving via Parks Victoria. Set yourself up for the night, before you hit local walking trails, head waterside to fish or simply sit back and take in the serenity.

5. Mallacoota Foreshore Caravan Park

For five-star views at an affordable price, pitch your tent at Mallacoota Foreshore Caravan Park. This campsite offers both powered and unpowered sites, right in the heart of the seaside town – meaning close proximity to cafes, beaches and walking paths, alongside campsite facilities.

As with any beachside destination in Victoria, it's best to plan ahead in the summer months. Any other time of the year, the campground provides a wonderful setting to relax and reset.

6. Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park

You'll find Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park in the heart of Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park. The popular campsite has plenty of facilities, such as a camp kitchen and dining area, toilet and shower blocks, Wi-Fi, kid's playground, an onsite cafe and even heated pools. If you don't have your own tent, glamping sites and cabins are also available. The campsite gets busy during the summer months and school holidays, so plan in advance.

If you'd prefer somewhere a little more rustic, try Smiths Mill Campground. Tucked away in woodland, it has toilets and a bush shower, and is close to some of the park's best-known sights such as MacKenzie Falls and Boroka Lookout.

For the ultimate overnight hiking experience, tackle the Grampians Peaks Trail; a 13-day trek with dedicated campsites along the way.

7. Granny's Flat Camping Area

Granny's Flat is located near the Jamieson River in Victoria's High Country. Access is via an unsealed road, which is roughly 7.5 km in length and can become inaccessible for 2WDs after heavy rainfall. The road leads to a beautiful campsite, surrounded by native forest. Facilities here include toilets, picnic tables and fire pits. The campsite is free; there's no need to book and you can bring your dog along. You'll also need to take all rubbish with you, when you leave.

Seasonal closures apply in the cooler months, so be sure to check opening times when planning your trip.

8. Lake Cantani Campground

Lake Cantani is the perfect base for outdoor adventurers keen to explore Mount Buffalo National Park. It's the only vehicle accessible campground within the alpine park, with showers, toilets, laundry and dishwashing sinks, BBQs and rubbish buns. The campground is most convenient for its close proximity to many of the park's best walks and lookouts. Be sure to book ahead for weekends and during the summer holidays.

9. Lake Elizabeth Campground

This is a small tent-only campground located near Lake Elizabeth. Pitch your tent under the shelter of tall eucalypt trees, right by the Barwon River. There is no direct vehicle access to the site – however there are 15-minute unloading bays, with the nearest car park only a couple minute's walk away. Facilities include non-flush toilets, fireplaces and picnic tables. Dogs are permitted in the campsite, but must remain on-lead.

Tent pitched, head to Lake Elizabeth, keeping an eye out for platypus. The area is a haven for birdlife and you may even see glow worms after dark. Hit the tracks by foot or mountain bike, or bring your kayak or canoe. Drop into the nearby town of Forrest on your way in or out, to explore its various tracks and trails, or to grab a cool ale from Forrest Brewing Company.

10. Johanna Beach Campground

A gorgeous spot to pitch a tent along the Great Ocean Road, this campground offers 25 sites, just back from the beach. It's a quiet and secluded spot, nestled between coastal dunes. Its close proximity to a prime surf beach makes it the ideal overnight destination for experienced surfers. You can also indulge in a spot of surf fishing, or tackle part of the Great Ocean Walk. The site is also great for whale-watching during the migratory season (July to September). Facilities are fairly basic, with non-flush toilets and picnic tables available.

11. Killarney Beach Caravan Park and Camping

Located just outside of Port Fairy, this no-fuss campsite makes the perfect weekend escape. Killarney is a lovely swimming beach that's also ideal for snorkelling. Cast a line and try your luck at snagging wild whiting. Powered and unpowered sites are available, alongside toilets, showers, a laundry and BBQ facilities. The campground is nestled along the edge of a footy oval, which the kids can run wild across.

12. Cooks Mill Campground

Cathedral Range offers some of the best hiking in the state. Make a proper trip of it and pitch your tent in one of the park's campgrounds. Cooks Mill is one of the more popular options, located right by Little River. Facilities include non-flush toilets, picnic tables and fireplaces. Bring your own drinking water, as the water of the river isn't potable. Stretch your legs along the Friends Nature Trail or tackle Razorback Trail. There's also rock climbing options for both beginners and experts.

13. The Gums Campground

Base yourself at The Gums, for further exploration of the northern section of Kinglake National Park. There are 18 campsites here, separated by native vegetation. Facilities include shared picnic tables, wood fireplaces, toilets and a communal gas barbecue. Hit a walking track, take in Wombelano and Mason Falls and keep an eye out for local wildlife, including lyrebirds.

14. Barmah National Park

Pitch a tent along the mighty Murray River, among the largest red gum forest in the world. There are plenty of places to sleep under the stars in Barmah National Park, with camping areas listed on the Parks Victoria website. These sites are best accessed by experienced and self-sufficient campers, as there are limited facilities within this park. Check conditions before you go, as the park features unsealed roads, which can be challenging for access in 2WD cars. Once you're all set up, relax in nature, meander down walking trails and wave hello to local wildlife from a safe distance.

15. Lerderderg Campground

Load up your camping gear and head out to Lerderderg State Park, west of Melbourne. The park's only drive-in campground has picnic tables, toilets and fire pits. The site is free and no booking is required, operating on a first-in, first-served basis.

Camping is also permitted at Amblers Crossing, which is only accessible via 4WD or by foot, in dry weather. You'll need to bring everything with you, including plenty of drinking water. Once set up, tackle the trails, go birdwatching or sit back and enjoy your time in Victoria's outstanding nature.


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