Seven of the best Free Camps in Victoria

It was all so peaceful, except for the raucous five o’clock wake up call. But that’s life on the Murray, where we were camped last weekend. The river near Cobram is one of our favourite camping spots with wide sandy stretches of riverside beaches, surrounded by the peace of nature. Oh, and those bloody noisy birds.

A shared adventure is a better adventure”

This time we went with friends and family, ten of us in total over the course of the weekend, not including horses and dogs. That’s the beauty of finding a spacious, free camp spot by the river.

We had a fabulous time, swimming, walking, eating, relaxing, watching the occasional boat sail by, stargazing … the simple joys of camping where the biggest decisions are usually “what shall we eat” and “should we go for another swim”?

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A great place to swim from our campsite on the Murray last weekend. Photo courtesy Daniel Sacchero

Throughout Australia there are thousands of places to camp. Yes there are caravan parks and recreation grounds but there’s also secluded bush, beach and river sites where you won’t pay a cent. We’re blessed with an abundance of State forests and National Parks and, even though some have been severely scorched by the fury of bush fires this summer, there are still many safe and beautiful places to free camp. The Murray is just one of them.


Here are seven more of the best in Victoria

Chinaman’s Campground – Mt Cole State Park

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Mt Cole State Forest is a bit of a hidden gem. It was once a timber harvesting area but today the forest offers secluded camping, bushwalking and adventurous four wheel driving. There are even designated horse yards. Chinaman’s campground is one of many campgrounds within the forest. It has a shelter, picnic tables and plenty of room to spread out.

Wine buffs can stop off at the nearby vineyard at Mount Langi Gihran and the town of Beaufort isn’t too far away. Yet, when you’re here amidst the sounds of croaking frogs you feel like you’re a world away!

Frys Flat – High Country

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Oh, how I love this place. Frys Flat, 25kms north west of Merrijig holds special memories with numerous trips here over the years with family, friends and our four legged friends. It’s tranquil, lush, spacious with loads of charm and appeal.

There’s Fred Fry’s historic hut to explore, the pristine Howqua River to cool down in, the Howqua Hills historic walk nearby and plenty of room to simply soak up all those high country vibes.

Minne Ha Ha Falls Camping Reserve – South Gippsland

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Tucked away in the hills behind Yarram is some of the prettiest countryside in South Gippsland. And close to tiny Hiawatha is the Minne Ha Ha Falls. Sound like some sort of Indian tribal place? In non peak times you could easily have this place to yourself. The waterfall and it’s amazing swimming spot is the focal point of the campground.

Less than twenty minutes away is Tarra Bulga National Park, an oasis of lush, giant fern gullies, and towering mountain ash. Walk along the swing bridge (jump and make it wobble) and free your inner child amidst the rainforest canopy. Growing up Tarra Valley was one of my favourite day trips!

Vennells Campground – Big River

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There’s something special about camping by flowing water. Whether it’s the Murray, the Jamieson, the Goulburn or the Big River, time seems to slow down when you’re camped riverside. There are loads of free campgrounds in the Big River State Forest, which is about 130kms north east of Melbourne, with the Big River being at the scenic heart of most of them.

Racecourse and Recreation Reserve – Port Franklin

Racecourse Recreation & Camping Reserve 3

“And they’re off and running …” It’s been a long time since this place has seen a throughbred, let alone hosted a horse racing event, but once this was a bustling race track. Now it’s a peaceful camp ground for those travelling through South Gippsland with shelter, picnic tables and toilets available.

Nearby in the picturesque fishing village of Port Albert there’s also 48 hours free camping on the car park near the boat ramp with a dump point and toilets close by.

Explore the historic buildings and at the Wharf you can enjoy some of the best fish and chips on the coast.

Poplars Reserve – Noojee

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The area around Noojee is filled with picture perfect waterfalls, the historic trestle bridge, a couple of great pubs and two top camping spots, here at Poplars Reserve and nearby at Toorongo Falls Campground. Don’t miss the loop walk to the stunning Toorongo and Ampitheatre Falls.

Lake Crosbie – Pink Lakes

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Lake Crosbie in the Murray Sunset National Park would have to be one of my favourite spots for star gazing, pristine wilderness and getting back to nature. It’s about six hours from Melbourne, and Victoria’s own outback. Picture a wild arid landscape, with salt lakes, historic relics, wildlife and stunning flora, bushwalking and remote four wheel driving. There’s even self propelled wind surfing adventures on the salt lakes if conditions are right! There’s nothing here but vast wilderness and unlimited freedom.

That’s the beauty of camping. A whole lot of nothingness can turn into a world of something quite extraordinary.

Whether it’s adventure or enlightenment you’re after, when you go camping in the great outdoors you find space and you find yourself. And there’s no greater feeling.


The latest edition of Free and Low Cost Camps Guide 2020-21 is available now and in it I go into more detail on each of these campsites, plus a whole heap more. I have 12 articles in there.

This annual publication, produced by the team that publishes On the Road Magazine (where I write my regular column) is a great source of inspiration on places to camp around Australia.

Here’s to finding that freedom and space, relishing nature for all her fickleness and beauty and enjoying the moment.

Wherever you are, enjoy the journey.

In light and love


“I still believe in paradise. But now at least I know it’s not someplace you can look for. Because it’s not where you go. It’s how you feel for a moment in your life when you’re a part of something. And if you find that moment… It lasts forever.” ― Richard, from the movie The Beach


54 thoughts on “Seven of the best Free Camps in Victoria

  1. I just came back from being away and wanted to treat myself to one of your posts, how lovely to see this wonderful piece on my feed today…I have two dear friends who live in NSW and I’m glad to read that there’s still peace and beauty to be enjoyed despite the devastating bush fires!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Kim, I hope your friends in NSW are okay, there’s certainly been a lot of devastation from the fires this summer but there’s also a lot of Australia that’s still unaffected. Thanks for dropping by and your lovely comment. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can see that you and your family had a marvelous time camping at Murray. The water is right there to jump in and out. I’m sure the dogs love to do that also. The pictures of Chinaman’s Campground and Frys Flat look great. My daughter and son-in-law camp on a regular basis. They would love going to those camp sites. Great post introducing the camp site, Miriam!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It looks like you’ve got some wonderful choices for places to camp, Miriam! How fun to get to go with a large group of family and friends. Ahhh…sounds wonderful! The simplicity of time spent where the big decisions are “what should we eat” and “shall we go for another swim”. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah, love that you finished your beautiful post with a quote from the Beach, what a great movie full of daring, adventure, freedom and exotic promises! You capture the spirit of freedom and adventure so exquisitely cara amica. You speak mother nature´s tongue and translate it for everyone who has forgotten her language or who longs to be reunited with her spaciousness and pure life-force. You make me dream myself away to the countless wonders that Australia has to offer with every single post! Waterfalls, gorgeous rivers, wild nature all around? Bloody yes please!! Ah thanks so much for this, I adore knowing that there are endless possibilities just waiting to be discovered on my return Down Under, whenever that might be. Sending so much love, and hugs, and wishing you a fabulous start to your week querida lioness xoxoxo💞 💞 💞

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, the Beach is a fabulous movie isn’t it. Well I’ve just come from your latest post and finished reading your ebook Maria so I feel like I’ve been transported.
      Thank you for your lovely words here. What a gorgeous comment about translating mother nature’s tongue, you have a magical way with words my friend and I always love you reading my posts and your awesome feedback. Glad I can help you dream, you do the same with me with your writings. Have a wonderful week Maria. Big hugs and lots of love sent your way. xx 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Miriam my lovely and amazing rock-star friend, your support and wonderful words of encouragement honestly mean the world to me! I wrote another ebook in the post, but it feels so much better now, being cheered on and supported by such a wonderful friend and superb writer like yourself! Thank you, thank you, thank you 🙂 💕 We, my friend, are celebrating each other´s being and work, and I truly love that!! How cool is that:) SO grateful for our friendship Miriam!!! Amazing gift:) Btw, where in Italy is your family or ancestors from? Just started watching “La dolce vita” ieri and thought of ya 🙂 Wishing you a fantastic week as well, grazie mille y a presto, amore y abrazos per te 💕💕xxx

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m so happy to be your supporter and cheerleader Maria. After all, you do the same for me! Love what you said about celebrating each other and our work, so true and so awesome. 😍 My parents were born in the Veneto region, (which is in the north) in a small village called Calvene. I still have cousins and ziii there. Enjoy your day my gorgeous friend. Tanti baci e amore. Till next time. xxx 💕

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Yes my lovely dear friend – women celebrating each other, connecting and uplifting each other is so beautiful, and I feel deeply grateful and happy to have found such a likeminded wild, free, caring, inspiring and passionate lioness-friend 🙂 😍 I love the topic of the Sacred Feminine and love the feeling that only true women-friendships can provide! Thank you, truly. So much love e baci – also so nice that you still have family in Bella Italia! A country like no other!

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Miriam, congratulations on the 12 articles in the magazine and thank you for giving us a taste of some of them here! 😀 They all sound so inviting and how amazing to have acccess to these free sites! The approach to Vennell looks a bit precarious! I love the photo of your campsite … did someone bring a drone along? Happy Travelling and Writing! A winning formula! Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Annika. Yes, our friend (who also happens to be our next door neighbour) brought his drone along which was amazing to watch in action. I agree with you, travel and writing is definitely a winning formula. Love it! Hugs back xx 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So many beautiful places to set up camp and for many to be free is just a huge bonus.. Unlike many campsites here in the UK.. over night charges on many .. Loved your images.. I have to ask how did you get that overhead view, do you have one of those little drones?? You took some stunning photos Miriam, and congrats to you for all of the articles the magazine, as well as your regular featured column…
    I suspect you have quite a following with all the knowledge you have accumulated upon your travels in the magazine..
    Lovely to know too that there are many beauty spots that were unaffected by the devastation of fire..
    Much love your way dear Miriam… Hope your weekend is a restful and pleasant one.. ❤ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Sue. Yes, that photo with the overhead view of our camp was from a drone taken by our neighbour and friend who was with us that weekend. It was so awesome to watch it in action and capture the views from up high.
      And yes, there are many beautiful spots that have been unaffected by the fires. Australia is a big country. Thanks again for your lovely words Sue. I feel incredibly blessed to be doing what I’m doing. Enjoy your weekend. xx 🥰

      Like

  7. MIriam,

    How wonderful that you can still find a place to camp near a river that hasn’t been developed. I too like camping with family and friends. Do you feel the need to learn drone photography since you are a travel writer or can you find the photos you need in other ways, like the friend who took the river photo? You would love camping in Oregon.
    Wishing you, and all of Australia, peace and safety.
    Ali

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ali, yes there are plenty of gorgeous river places here, we’re very lucky to have so many choices. Hmm, yes drone photography is pretty exciting though I’m also happy enough just getting my pics on the ground! Still, it’s nice to explore new avenues and who knows down the track. Nice to know you’re a camper too! Thanks for your kind wishes. xx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Miriam,
    These look like lovely places to “boondock”…I especially like places with water as well. Dan and I are planning our big rv trip for next year and will be in some rv parks to take advantage of the amenities, but also plan to “boondock” in National Forests and Bureau of Land Management lands where it is free – but there are no amenities except lovely surroundings. I’m looking forward to a bit of both experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. OMG, could you have picked the most obvious, busiest camp sites in Victoria, yes please go there and leave all the really good ones to me, Thanks

    Like

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