A list of great camping sites along the Great Ocean Road (free & paid)
Exploring the scenic Great Ocean Road is a bucket list item for many adventurers (near & far). A Great ocean road camping road trip however is perhaps one of the best ways to explore this rugged coastline.
So if you are looking for the best campgrounds to explore ( known & lesser-known) you’ve come to the right place!
How to get there?
The Great Ocean Road is an iconic road on the South-Western coast of Victoria. It begins in Torquay and ends in Allensford, you’ll have 238 Kilometers of gorgeous views along the B100 Highway. The campsites listed here are scattered along this route.
Only 90 minutes from Melbourne City Center and your adventure truly begins. Have your camera ready because the scenery and memories will last a lifetime!
Best time of year to go Camping on the Great Ocean Road
While traveling the Great Ocean Road remember that even though you may have the perfect campsite picked out, you should always have a backup site as well.
During peak season (December - February) reserve your site whenever possible and send a scout ahead if you can, leave early and claim your little piece of paradise within nature and enjoy.
The best time of year to avoid crowds is between September and November. Enjoying the natural wonders of this route is what it’s all about and the journey can be just as fun as the destination.
June through August will have fewer water activities on the Great Ocean Road but some might enjoy the minimal traffic more.
Once you’ve picked a destination on the Great Ocean Road you can begin planning and preparing for what you’ll see and encounter along the way.
This article aims to assist in your planning by giving key insight into the locations listed below.
We’ll provide locations for both the rugged off roader and the glamping enthusiast all while letting you know what to expect once you arrive and nearby attractions.
6 Top Unpowered Sites Along the Great Ocean Road Suitable for Campers & Camper Trailers with Easy Access
1. Tanners Camp: Serenity Camping
2WD & 4WD Accessible All Year Round
Amenities: Pit Toilets, Large Rig Accessible, Designated Tent Space Available, Dog Friendly
Not Available: Electricity, WiFi, Kitchen Area, Restaurants, Showers, Water (portable or otherwise), Sewage Dumping Station
Before you hit the road be sure to enjoy the surf culture in Torquay and stock up on any last-minute items. Free camping along the Great Ocean Road used to be bountiful before the masses of eager Instagram-driven visitors discovered this beautiful coastline.But there are still a few key locations that are not far from the ocean or controlled by Parks Victoria.
A bumpy road leads to a clean bush camp with long drop toilets, picnic tables, and plenty of even ground for your tent or parking a large rig. Ensure you arrive early because it’s a bit tight on space and big rigs will be limited for turnarounds.
Best to take Tanners Road in because Gherang road is a bog during the wet months and there’s a possibility of getting trapped.
This easily accessed location is a pet-friendly site so you and your fur babies are always welcome to enjoy peaceful nights.
Tanners Camp has four horse holding yards and a couple of hitching posts for the larger family members.
Plenty of fire pits are available to tell scary stories around in the evening hours while cooking a delicious meal.
During the day many visitors to Tanners Camp head out to enjoy the trails on their mountain bikes all while having a cozy retreat when returning from a day of fun.
2. Mount Cowley: Your Elevated Escape
Amenities: Large Rig Accessible, Tent Space Available, Dog Friendly
Not Available: Electricity, WiFi, Kitchen Area, Restaurants, Showers, Water (portable or otherwise), Pit Toilets, Sewage Dumping Station
Bring your 4WD vehicles for fun and your 2WD friends can join you at camp!
This true rainforest campsite sits over 500 meters up and will be a scenery upgrade for anyone that ascends to the summit.
Beyond the “4WD only” sign you’ll stumble into an open field awaiting your arrival. Ensure you bring everything with you because amenities are scarce here.
2WD access roads all the way to the summit tower when it's the dry season. When it's the wet season, a winch and mud tires are a must.
Cell reception is minimal so having a booster and solar energy could come in quite handy for this adventure. The view is minimal at the top of Mount Cowley near the tower so be sure to chase adventure and not scenic elevated views.
Due to the abundance of critters and visitors at the campsite, this is a wildlife photographer's dream. With your tripod and batteries ready to go, you’re sure to capture some amazing shots.If you’re feeling extra adventurous, Mt Cowley Track is a 1 km popular green dirt/gravel road family-friendly trail located near Deans Marsh. This multi-use trail can be used in both directions and has an easy overall physical rating with a 35 m green climb. On average it takes 10 minutes to complete this trial.
Due to recent wildfires, a lot of the area was badly burned, but seeking out beauty is not lost on a 17-minute drive from Mount Cowley to Erskine Falls. One of the most visited waterfalls due to its excellent trail and photogenic scenery, it’s easy to see why this is a must-visit.
3. Kennett River Holiday Park: Glamping Made Easy
All Vehicle Accessibility Year Round
Amenities: Electricity At Sites, WiFi (slow), Kitchen Areas, Restaurants, Water (non-potable), Showers, Pit Toilets, Large Rig Accessible, Designated Tent Space Available, Dog Friendly
Not Available: Sewage Dump Station
If glamping is more your style and you want all that a relaxing atmosphere has to offer, this TOP chain park is where it’s at. Halfway between Lorne and Apollo Bay you’ll find that Koalas, kookaburras, parrots, and other native wildlife enjoy this sheltered location amongst the gum trees.
Be sure to make your reservations in advance because Kennett River is a hot spot during the holiday season. Visiting the Kennett River’s own Kafe Koala is a popular stop for international travelers from all over the world so be sure to check it out when you’re in the area.
Clean restrooms, washing machines, barbeques, and WiFi all the while being surrounded by nature and the calming sounds of the ocean. It’s a relaxation dream in the making.
The Telstra reception will be the only thing missing from the glamping paradise just off the Great Ocean Road. Don’t forget to visit some Koalas.
4. Aire Crossing Campsite: Waterfall Adventure
Most areas 2WD Accessible During Dry Season & 4WD Accessible During Wet Season
Amenities: Water (non-potable), Pit Toilets, Large Rig Accessible, Designated Tent Space Available
Not Available: Electricity, Showers, WiFi, Kitchen Areas, Restaurants, Sewage Dump Station, Not Dog FriendlyAfter the turn onto Aire Settlement Road, you’ll find free camping next to the Aire River. Roughly 11Km later you’ll find yourself among the rainforest and all the peace that comes with it. Be sure to bring potable water and any other amenities you might need because this site is the bare minimum.
Down the Phillips track, you will find the well-groomed campsite. Although it states 4WD only, most any vehicle can endure the journey during the dry season.
This Beech forest is full of waterfalls and excellent picnic areas to enjoy your escape from the hustle and bustle of life.
The Great Otway National Park rarely disappoints and this campground is no exception.A simple getaway with simple amenities like long drop toilets and non-potable water will keep you humble as you enjoy family and friends around the fire pit.
5. Colac Tree Road: Raw Wild Nature Site
Most areas 2WD Accessible During Dry Season & 4WD Accessible During Wet Season
Amenities: Dog Friendly
Not Available: Electricity, WiFi, Kitchen Areas, Water, Showers, Pit Toilets, Large Rig Accessible, Designated Tent Space Available, Restaurants, Sewage Dump Station
Less than 2 Kilometers down Colac Tree Road is a clearing on this nice tree logging road. The surrounding tracks are posted as four-wheel drive tracks but during most of the year are fully accessible by 2WD vehicles. Be sure to check the weather before heading out so you can enjoy your holiday and stay dry.
Milanesia Beach is a short drive from camp but well worth the drive and 1.7Km walk. The stunning cliff sides and open ocean will have you leaving your woes behind.
If you’re feeling like a good hike would clear your mind, take a look at this section of the Great Ocean Walking trail. Believe me when I say the scenery is worth the journey. A good portion of the trail is wheelchair accessible so everyone can enjoy this adventure.
If you still need to stay in touch with civilization, have no fear, Telstra reception is fairly decent in the area.
6. Princetown Recreation Reserve
All Vehicle Accessibility Year Round
Reservations: First come first served
Unpowered: 10/ Person Powered: 15/ person Cash Only
Amenities: Electricity, Showers, Water (non-potable), Running Water Toilets, Large Rig Accessible, Tent Space Available, Dog Friendly on lead. Not allowed at the beach
Not Available: WiFi, Kitchen Areas, Restaurants, Sewage Dump Station
This sea-level oasis will have all the amenities for the family to have that long-awaited vacation. Only 6 Km East from 12 Apostles, adjacent the Gellibrand River.
Park your rig and turn the kids loose to enjoy the playgrounds.
Hot showers, running water, and pet-friendly, this site can allow you to escape while still being in touch with real life.
Just off of Old Coach Road you’ll be greeted with all your new friends during peak season because this campground is a popular one with the holiday crowd.
All sites are first come first served so be sure to arrive early because reservations are not allowed and the campground location fills up quickly.
When visiting you’re sure to see mobs of Kangaroos in the area so be sure not to leave food out. A list of rules and regulations can be found here
With all this campground has to offer, you’re sure to enjoy yourself and secure memories for years to come.
With the Gellibrand River being in close approximation to the Reserve you can enjoy a long day kayaking, hiking, or fishing all while returning to your comfortable retreat back at camp.
5 More Great Ocean Road Camping Sites Worth Visiting Managed by Parks, VIC
1. Aire River West Campground
Aire River West has many campgrounds, it’s an open, large flat area located on the banks of Aire River. It’s perfect for large groups, it has 40 campsites catering for large caravans to tents and everything in between. A great family campsite with heaps of birdlife around the wetlands. It’s an awesome spot for fishing & canoeing, while only a 15-min walk to Glenaire beach!
Bookings are essential for the site, so get in early and claim your turf.
2. Sharps camping area
Sharps track campground is a very basic no thrills camping area in the Otway National Park, vic Australia. It’s a 15-min walk away from Sheoak picnic area where you’ll find flush toilets & bbq facilities. This is actually a free campsite and 4WD access only. Note there are only 6 campsites, and only 3 are suitable for camper trailers or caravans. It’s a first come, first serve basis.
3. Blanket Bay Campground
This is a fantastic campground for the whole family. Blanket Bay Campground is in the middle of the forest right on the coastal shores of Cape Otway. This sheltered bay is perfect for swimming, exploring the rockpools teeming with marine life while checking out the Koalas in the trees. There are 22 unpowered campsites suitable for tents, camper trailers, campers or other RV’s.
4. Johanna beach campground
Johanna Beach camping ground is run by Victoria Parks and offers 25 paid unpowered campsites. It's often used as a hub for hikers and experienced surfers (this is an unpatrolled beach). It's surrounded by pristine rainforest on one side and sand dunes on the other. Be sure to book in advance, as it can get quite busy at peak times.
5. Big hill track camping area
This camping site is just inland about 14mins from Lorne via Deans Marsh Rd. It used to offer free sites however these days you need to book in advance on the Parks VIC website and get a camping permit.The big hill camping area has basic toilet facilities, shared fireplaces, and picnic tables. It seems like quite a small campground but the sites are scattered through the trees with a mixture of tent-only sites and camper-trailer & caravan sites. This place is great for bird watching, exploring the mountain bike trails, or four-wheel driving.
Things to do on the Great Ocean Road
Before you go camping though, it's a good idea to plan out your adventure around some must-visit locations that you'd be kicking yourself if you missed.
Check out these 4 must-visit attractions on the great ocean road.
The Twelve Apostles are one of the most iconic wonders along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, as it is best known for its famous limestone stacks right on the coast. The twelve Apostles don't have any campgrounds as it is far too windy, however about an hour drive away is Apollo Bay with many options.
Great Otway National Park
The Great Otway national park provides fantastic views of beautiful forests, coastal heathlands, wild rocky shores, and windswept cliff tops.
Great Ocean Walk
The Great Ocean Walk weaves its way through the Great Otway National Park.
Why not explore the great ocean walk on your own at your own pace? You can easily stay in comfortable accommodation with excellent local meals, or pitch a tent at a wild and picturesque campground along the way.
The full Great Ocean walk is just over 100km (about 3 days walk), but feel free to put together your own plan with a short walk or a full day walk.
Apollo Bay is a busy fishing port that offers great ocean views from the hills. The main attraction in this small town is the Great Ocean road itself. Offering great dining, a selection of stores, and access to the 100km Great Ocean Walk which extends 100km from Apollo Bay and the twelve apostles. Explore the rock pools around the cliffs.
Holiday Parks / Caravan parks offering Powered and Unpowered Campsites
If you are looking to recharge (batteries) with powered sites or a few more facilities provided by paid campsites in between the more remote facilities on your camping holiday, then these camping sites will tie you over. Don't forget to top up your drinking water, leverage the BBQ facilities and have a hot shower!
Cumberland river holiday park
Cumberland river holiday park requires a notable mention, because it offers a wide variety of accommodation with facilities to boot, not to mention many campgrounds right on the Cumberland rivers edge. It's about 15min southwest drive along the great ocean road from Lorne
Marengo holiday park
Marengo holiday park is 2km outside the Apollo Bay township and is perfect for families with Caravans & Camper trailers. It's situated right on the beach off the Great Ocean Road.
Port Campbell recreation reserve
Okay, not a holiday park, but great for Caravans & Campers. Port Campbell recreation reserve is on the outskirts of Port Campbell township, it's a pet-friendly great pit spot with free hot showers hidden amongst the bush! Sometimes they close for renovations, be sure to always check their website. For unpowered sites, no bookings are required.
Timboon Recreation Reserve
This isn’t technically a holiday park either, but it is a useful lay over if you are on an extended trip. While a little more inland from the Great Ocean Road, the timboon recreation reserve is also a showground and there is a $20 fee payable over the phone. It is about 30 minutes from the 12 Apostles and is a great place to access showers, top up your own drinking water, and offers a refuge for larger RVs and Caravans.
With all the possible locations the Great Ocean Road has to offer for both 2WD & 4WD campgrounds, we hope this article provided some insight to a few new locations you might not have known about along perhaps one of the most scenic coastal drives on the planet.
Remember, You may have a superb location picked out and find a better one along the way. That's what travel and adventure are all about! Be on the lookout for new camps
Plan and prepare for almost any situation that may arise to include weather, restrictions, vacancy, and activities.
We hope you enjoy your next holiday whether it's living large in one of our Trayon campers or the simple living of a ground tent. Life can be both about the journey and the destination. Outside of lockdown, get out there and explore!
P.S. If you're looking for more 4 Wheel Drive campsites in Victoria, check out our VIC 4WD Touring Guides.
Be sure to leave no trace, enjoy the ride, and stay safe.
*All information herein was gathered from the various linked websites and personal encounters as of 21JUL21. Please be advised to do your own research and use this article strictly as a guide on your next adventure.