Some of Victoria's best camping experiences are right on Melbourne’s doorstep.
You don’t need to drive very far to get back to nature in Melbourne, because many of the state’s best camping destinations are within easy reach. Head east, west or south out of the city along the coast and bays and you’ll find fabulous beachfront camping reserves, national parks and well-equipped caravan parks. Or go bush in the ferny tall forests of the Yarra Ranges. But just because it’s wild doesn’t mean you have to rough it–glamping is popular and many of the national park campgrounds have the facilities you'd expect to find in holiday parks, like hot showers, powered caravan sites, playgrounds and flush toilets.
Hipcampers are spoilt for choice when it comes to camping spots on the Great Ocean Road, which helps explain why this scenic coastal route is so popular with the vanlife set, although it’s just as good for those that are pitching a tent. Almost every town along its length has a caravan park, and there are several good foreshore camping reserves, usually within a stone’s throw from the beach, as well as camping spots in the rainforest of Great Otway National Park.
A night at the prom is a rite of passage for every young Melbournian. This wild knob of land at the southernmost tip of mainland Australia is Victoria’s most popular camping destination and offers everything from remote walk-in camps to powered caravan sites and luxury glamping. Tidal River campground even has a pop-up cinema in summer.
Another popular summer holiday spot, this boot-shaped peninsula 80km south of Melbourne boasts more than 260 km of coastline. There are three foreshore camping reserves with more than 1,000 campsites between them as well as plenty of caravan and holiday parks. Spend your days on or in the water, or explore the peninsula on one of the wine trails.
Want to escape the summer heat? An hour's drive to the east of the city rise the Dandenong Ranges, where the towering mountain ash forests and misty fern gullies are a favourite weekend escape for Melbournians. Further north, the pretty Yarra Valley is one of the best cool climate wine districts of the world.
Winter is notoriously cold and wet in the southern climes, although it’s not nearly as bad as locals like to say it is. The milder half of the year, from November to May, is best for camping; spring is lovely when the wildflowers are out. The Tidal River campground at Wilsons Promontory National Park is always booked out during summer and Easter school holidays and campsites are allocated by ballot, so you’ll need to plan ahead. See the Parks Victoria site for more information on how to apply.