5 RIPPER BUSH CAMPS
Whether you’re into fishing, bushwalking, swimming or simply relaxing in nature, we’ve got you covered with our latest bush camp picks
1. Blue Pools Campground, Vic
Blue Pool is a part of the Briagolong State Forest in the Gippsland region of Victoria, roughly a 2.5 hour drive from Melbourne. The campground is near the entrance of the state forest, which is a 10km drive north of Briagolong along Freestone Creek Road (accessible via 2WD). The state forest has many walks, ranging from 5-minute strolls to 3-day treks. The deep gorge, which is the defining feature of this lovely campsite, is said to have clear, crisp water that’s perfect for a swim on a warm summer’s day.
If you’re brave enough, you can jump from the small rocky cliff or launch into the water off an old rope swing. While shady sites are abundant, level ground is limited and does tend to get packed out in the holidays. You will find drop toilets, barbecues and picnic tables but you will need to bring your own drinking water. Phone reception is patchy.
2. Loch Luna Game Reserve, SA
Loch Luna Game Reserve is an ideal camping spot for those looking to get away somewhere peaceful. Set among wetlands and close to the Murray River, Loch Luna is made up of narrow creeks and shallow swamps, is a haven for birdlife. You’re also likely to see some kangaroos and lizards. You can enjoy the scenery by taking a kayak out on the water, but it’s too shallow for water skis and motorboats.
Many of the campsites at the reserve are close to the water and spacious enough for large groups and caravans, with some offering shade and grass. There are no bins or water facilities, and you will need to bring your own firewood. There are picnic areas and campfire areas; the only toilets are located in the Kaiser Strip section of Loch Luna. It’s best to visit in autumn or spring to avoid weather extremes, but the reserve is generally accessible all year round.
3. Gillards Campground, Mimosa Rocks National Park, NSW
Gillards Campground is a pretty area nestled between beach and bush in the southern part of Mimosa Rocks National Park. It’s a 5.5 hour road trip if you’re heading down from Sydney. You will find Gillards Campground by turning off Tathra-Bermagui road onto Gillards road, a 4km single-lane dirt road that requires caution. This campground is perfect for families and small groups who are looking for a holiday filled with sand, sunshine and water.
While swimming is not encouraged at Gillards Beach due to strong rips and currents, there are plenty of tamer beaches nearby, like Tathra, Bermagui and Merimbula. Gillards is, however, a great place to fish, go for walks and enjoy family games of cricket on the golden sands. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to whale-watch – simply head up to one of the park’s headlands with a pair of binoculars. There are barbecues (BYO wood) and non-flush toilets at the campground.
4. Mt Barney Lodge Country Retreat, Qld
Mt Barney Lodge is nuzzled right at the foot of the state’s most impressive summit, Mt Barney, and next to the national park, only a pleasant 90-minute drive from Brisbane. The lodge offers a full holiday adventure activity program for kids and adults throughout the year, where you can go on guided bushwalks and mountain expeditions or have a go at rock climbing and abseiling.
All campsites are grassy and shady and offer awe-inspiring mountain views. Or you could opt to “glamp” in an onsite camper-trailer. With everything you could need, including drinking water, toilets, hot showers, barbecues, picnic areas, fire pits and a shop, you won’t exactly be “living it rough”. Be sure to explore the stunning scenery of the McPherson ranges that surrounds you. Bookings are essential.
5. Ironstone Gully Falls, WA
This small, pet-friendly rest stop nestled in the Jarrah Forest can be found 17km south east of Capel on Goodwood Rd. Here you will find basic amenities and beautiful scenery. Access can be tight in places, but if you take care you shouldn’t have any trouble fitting a decent-size motorhome. Keep in mind that space is limited. There’s shade, a basic toilet, picnic tables, barbecue and bin.
This historic picnic spot was once used as a recreation area for the Capel River settlers, back in the early 1900s. The site is renowned for the red rock over which a small stream flows before meandering over a series of rapids and tumbling over a 9-metre high ledge. Visit in the spring to see the bush trail blooming with wildflowers and teeming with birdlife, including red-tailed and long-billed black cockatoos and scarlet robins. There’s also a track for walkers and cyclists.