Camping in the outdoors is budget-friendly and a fun way for families to spend time together. Here’s our list of great campsites near Melbourne to get you started.
South of Melbourne
Big 4 Beacon Resort, Queenscliff
Beacon Resort has everything for the camping family. Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, it’s an easy drive down the Bellarine Freeway. This is no ordinary holiday park – it has a CoutaKidz Activity program, giant jumping pillow, indoor and outdoor adventure playgrounds and a heated pool. The fitness studio, tennis court and Day Spa take camping to a whole new level.
With powered and unpowered grassy sites, some with ensuite bathrooms, Beacon Resort indulges those who love their creature comforts. It’s a great base to explore the Great Ocean Road, hire a bike and explore Queenscliff, ride the historic railway, or catch the ferry across to the Mornington Peninsula and watch for dolphins.
West of Melbourne
Daylesford and Macedon Ranges, Mt Franklin Reserve
What’s the best school news presentation ever? I camped in a volcanic crater on the weekend.
Mt Franklin Reserve is a small volcano crater with lots of shady spots with picnic tables and fire pits to pitch a tent. It’s also free. Caravans and campers can access it easily. If you’re looking for a ‘back to nature’ camp experience – Mt Franklin is for you. You’ll need to bring in your own drinking water and the pit toilets may not suit all families. But setting up camp under a canopy of stars makes up for the lack of facilities.
Mt Franklin has a 20-minute rim walk, or you can visit the Hepburn Bathhouse Mineral Springs just 9km away.
Lerderderg State Park offers a true bush experience in the Great Diving Range. This is basic camping. Kids will love spotting wildlife and exploring the gold-mining relics scattered throughout the sandstone and slate gorge.
The campsites at O’Brien’s Crossing have toilet and firepits, but you’ll need to take your own water. Bring your binoculars as well – this campground has koalas, swamp wallabies, spiny ant-eaters and bats. Camping is first in, first served, and it’s free.
Of all the campsites near Melbourne, this is the one that offers the wildest adventure. Werribee Open Range Zoo is 30 minutes drive from Melbourne. Just imagine you’re tucked up inside your tent and you can hear the roar of lions.
If you’re after creature comforts, the ‘Slumber Safari’ offers an ‘Out of Africa’ escape with a touch of luxury. This safari glamping experience, features ensuites and private decks, campfire dinners and evening activities, doesn’t come cheap. But the memories are priceless. You’ll feel like you’re on safari, instead of camping alongside the picturesque Werribee River.
South East of Melbourne
Surfs up – and you’ll be the first one paddling out as you tumble from your tent. Point Leo has long been one of Melbourne’s favourite family destinations for beginner surfers and lovers of the coast. This quiet campground is just the ticket for checking out of the rat race. During school holidays the free Junior Ranger program entertains nature-loving kids. Point Leo has plenty of shade and trees to hang your wetsuits from. This is a much-loved campsite where 45 coveted powered sites are spread amongst the 168 sites in total. Only one car is allowed per booking.
Fall asleep in your tent to the sound of the waves. Just metres from the beach this beautiful foreshore bush reserve has loads of shady native trees and views out across Westernport Bay. Rockpool rambles, windsurfing, sailboarding, boating and shore based fishing are on tap for the kids right from the door. If you own a boat, there’s a boat ramp just 200metres away. This is a pet-friendly campground, so you can take the family dog. The world-renowned Penguin Parade and Nobbies Centre is a 10-minute drive away, as well as the GrandPrix circuit.
East of Melbourne
Seasoned bush campers will love the tall eucalypts and lush, green ferns of Upper Yarra Reservoir Park which was once a small town for workers building the dam. It’s a short drive from Warburton, perched beside Melbourne’s Yarra River. The campsite is fairly basic with shower facilities currently closed, but it does have as BBQ’s, a camp kitchen and plenty of walking tracks and lookouts to keep the kids active. This is a terrific campground for several families camping together but make sure you book ahead. Check out the Brimbonga Walking Track to watch the water flow through the reservoir’s outlet basin as it begins its journey to Melbourne. Swim and fish in crystal-clear rivers during the day, and look out for reclusive local wildlife at night.
Camp along the flowing water of the Yarra River – but book your camping holiday well in advance as river frontage sites fill quickly.
Young kids will love dropping in a fishing line or floating down the river on inflatables, and it’s a great location to explore the nearby Redwoods Forest or the trails by mountain bike. If you’re adventurous you can also camp here in winter and head to Lake Mountain for skiing.
You’re assigned a fire pit on check-in, but you’ll need to buy wood so the kids can get stuck into toasting the marshmallows. With cabins on-site, this park is a great option for non-camping family members to join you as well while you sleep under the stars.
You will find some pretty incredible campsites near Melbourne. But what about IN Melbourne? Yes, it is possible.
Take in the sights and sounds of the urban jungle as you camp on a rooftop in the middle of the city. St Jerome’s is an urban glamping experience where astro turf, queen sized beds, magazines and air conditioning may mean you never want to go back to basics again.
Set on the rooftop of Melbourne Central this is a camping ground like you’ve never experienced before. It even has portable palm trees to separate you from your camping neighbours and ensuites for each tent. Self catering is not permitted. Swap your snags on the BBQ for cakes on demand at the Cupcake Counter or you can order dinner delivered to your tent.