A family affair
“Camping close to nature is an experience that can shape and mould you as a person. Why wouldn’t you want to share the adventure as a family?” says Tammy Schoo.
Making memories in the great outdoors is an Aussie family tradition that never wears thin. It’s almost a rite of passage and Victoria’s parks have a multitude of family-friendly camping experiences ripe for the picking.
Tammy is a Parks Victoria ranger at the Grampians National Park where families have been flocking for generations. According to Tammy, many factors make the Grampians a magnet for holidaymakers.
“The park’s reputation as a family camping destination is long-standing. It offers well set up campgrounds close to short walks and is ideal for car-based weekend camping,” she says. “Most importantly, the visitor sites within the park are accessible. A huge network of more than 1,000km of roads and tracks criss-crosses the park.”
“It’s an ancient and impressive landscape. Visitors always tell me this place is amazing. There are rocky peaks and mountains to climb for a fabulous view. There are spring wildflowers and the chance to spot kangaroos, kookaburras and echidnas.”
“And it’s all within easy reach of Melbourne and Adelaide via the Great Southern Touring Route. Even the locals love to camp here.”
Tammy lives in Halls Gap with her partner and young daughter.
“For us, family camping is an opportunity to teach our daughter about the environment, to help her build a connection with nature and the outdoors, the same way I did growing up with holidays in the Grampians,” says Tammy.
What are Tammy’s picks of the many campgrounds in the Grampians?
For a single night in the outdoors, the Schoo family heads to Borough Huts Campground.
“It’s accessible by sealed road and not far from Halls Gap,” explains Tammy. “There’s Fyans Creek to explore and a short drive will get you to the pretty Silverband Falls. For those wanting a longer, more strenuous walking experience, the Mt Rosea track which leaves from the campground offers stunning views from its 1,000m peak.”
Borough Huts Campground has 35 sites, including some suitable for camper trailers and caravans.
“It’s one of the larger campgrounds in the park, so it’s usually very social. There’s a great vibe with kids riding bikes around, having fun and it’s a safe environment for kids to mix with other kids,” says Tammy.
“It’s suitable for larger groups and there’s a diverse mix of people who camp there, from backpackers to grey nomads to family groups.”
For those well set up wanting a more remote experience, Tammy recommends Boreang Campground.
“It’s a smaller campground with fifteen sites suitable only for tents and camper trailers. It’s a quiet, sheltered site where you can really start to appreciate being out amongst nature,” says Tammy.
Boreang Campground is situated in the central Grampians at the northern end of the Victoria Valley. Popular with four wheel drive enthusiasts, this is a great place to base yourself and enjoy a host of interesting day trips.
“The campground is accessible by two wheel drive but there are many great four wheel drive tracks nearby. You can access the full range of activities in the Victoria Ranges. The Moora Moora Reservoir in the Victoria Valley is a beautiful place for picnicking and canoeing. I also recommend the Buandik Campground and picnic area from which you can explore the nearby Billimina and Manja Aboriginal art shelters.”
Boreang is a little more adventurous than Borough Huts but still within 45 minutes of Halls Gap.
Wherever you’re planning to camp in the Grampians National Park, Tammy highly recommends you check in at Brambuk – The National Park and Cultural Centre at Halls Gap.
“You can pick-up walking maps and get some up-to-date park advice,” she says. “You can connect with Aboriginal cultural heritage, chat to cultural rangers and visit the stunning Gariwerd dreaming theatre.” The family camping experience holds a special place in Tammy’s heart.
“It’s a perfect time to interact with loved ones,” she says. “We sometimes take nan and pa, the aunties and uncles, the extended family and enjoy the experience together. We sit around, relax, tell stories, the kids get to run around and catch up as a family without the distractions of busy life at home.”
“Kids are great ice-breakers and it’s easy to strike up conversations with others at the campgrounds. Before you know it, the kids are off playing and you’re sitting around a campfire getting to know people from another part of the country or another part of the world.”
“There’s a real presence about the Grampians. You can get out and be part of nature. When you return again and again to the same place you build a relationship with it. It becomes a part of your story, of your family’s story.”
Drive in, relax, enjoy
Tidal River, Wilsons Promontory National Park
In one of Victoria’s most-loved natural environments, almost 500 camping and caravan sites (some with power) located near beach and river with modern amenity blocks, picnic areas and free gas barbeques. There’s a visitor centre, a general store, take away food shop and a myriad of walking tracks.
Mount Eccles National Park
Nestled in protected hollows between rocky ridges of a dormant volcano, 22 campsites get you and yours close to indigenous culture, a tranquil lake and bushland surroundings.
Lake Catani, Mount Buffalo National Park
Cascading waterfalls, alpine landscapes, swimming, canoeing and bushwalking all within easy reach of the campgrounds set amongst picturesque snow gums. Amenities include toilets, hot showers, communal shelter, tables and fireplaces.
Buchan Caves Reserve
More than 60 sites (some with power) in a peaceful campground with great facilities and ready access to walking trails and tours of the Buchan Caves and their spectacular stalactites, stalagmites and calcite-rimmed pools.
Lakeside Campground, Lake Eildon National Park
Full amenities and 60-plus sites in a lake-side setting where boating, bushwalking and barbeques are every day family affairs.
To book your stay visit www.parks.vic.gov.au/stay