10 of the Best Dog-Friendly Campsites in Victoria

If you’re wanting to go camping with dogs in Victoria, there’s plenty of dog-friendly campgrounds to choose from, including many low cost or free options. Whether you’re after somewhere to camp for the weekend by the beach or in the bush, or places to stay on a longer road trip, take your pick from these excellent dog-friendly campsites in Victoria.

Camping by the Murray with a Dog

#1 Johanna Beach Campground, Great Otway National Park

While dogs are not allowed in almost all national parks in Australia, one of the few places in a national park that dogs are allowed is Johanna Beach in the Great Otway National Park, located along the Great Ocean Road

As well as being a popular surf beach, Johanna Beach is also home to the Johanna Beach Campground, with 25 unpowered sites. There are no showers provided and only non-flushing toilets, plus you’ll need to bring your own drinking water. Dogs are required to stay on leash both in the campground and on the beach.

The dog-friendly campground is just west of Cape Otway, not far from the world-famous Twelve Apostles. It’s a three hour drive from Melbourne along the direct inland route, or allow four hours if you follow the Great Ocean Road. 

Twelve Apostles Australia Road Trip
Johanna Beach Campground is near the Twelve Apostles

Advanced bookings are available, and are essential during the busy summer months, particularly during the Christmas holidays and on weekends. Campsite fees vary depending on the date, but are generally around $15 per night, at least outside peak periods.

#2 Banksia Bluff Campground, Cape Conran

Cape Conran Coastal Park is located in East Gippsland, just over 5 hours drive east of Melbourne and about 90 minutes from the NSW border. Dogs are allowed in this park, including to camp in the Banksia Bluff Campground, next to East Cape Beach.

Cape Conran Coastal Park
The Banksia Bluff Campground is adjacent to East Cape Beach

The entire park was badly affected by the 2020 bushfires. However, the campground has now fully reopened, and many of the previous facilities rebuilt, although some work is still ongoing during 2023.

Facilities are basic at this campground, with only flushing toilets, cold-water showers and unpotable bore water available. It’s essential to bring virtually all your supplies, as the closest town, Marlo, is a 17km drive away, while the closest supermarket in Orbost is 34km away. The onsite campground office however has ice, gas and firewood for sale.

Just over half of the campsites allowed leashed dogs. At the moment advance bookings are required, so make sure you refer to the map before booking, to ensure that you have selected a dog-friendly site. Over the Christmas holidays a ballot system is used to allocate sites. Site fees vary depending on date, but are generally around $20 per night, at least outside of peak periods.

The adjacent East Cape Beach is dog-friendly, although dogs need to be kept on a leash. There’s a number of dog-friendly bush walks available in the area, although some still may be closed following the bush fires. It’s also recommended to check your dog daily for ticks in the area.

Dog at Cape Conran Coastal Park
Dogs are allowed on East Cape Beach as long as they are leashed

#3 Wills Bend Camping Area, Murray River Reserve

A terrific way to spend the night near Echuca is camping on the banks of the Murray River. While there’s multiple dog-friendly accommodation options in town, there’s also places nearby that you can bush camp with your dog, including the dog-friendly campsites at Wills Bend, Betts Beach and Christies Beach.

Wills Bend
Wills Bend campsite is not far from Echuca

We spent a night camping at Wills Bend Camping Area, located in the Murray River Reserve, about 17km west of Echuca. It’s a wonderful peaceful spot (especially midweek) with beautiful sunsets and sunrises. Dogs are allowed but need to be kept on a leash.

There’s not many facilities on hand, only pit toilets. Take your pick of the unformed campsites, some right next to the Murray River. Note that the final 5km unsealed stretch of the access road (via O’Dwyer Road) was rather rough during our visit.

Camping next to the Murray River, Echuca
Camping next to the Murray River at Wills Bend

Alternatively, head to Betts Beach or Christies Beach, both located about 8km east of Echuca and accessed by Simmie Road, which is also unsealed.

#4 Mt Franklin Reserve, Hepburn Regional Park

Daylesford offers plenty of luxury accommodation options, including numerous dog-friendly cottages, but if you’re happy to camp nearby with only basic facilities, head to Mt Franklin Reserve, also known as Lalgambuk Camping Area.

Located just over a 10 minute drive north of Daylesford, within the Hepburn Regional Park, this reserve and campground is located in an extinct volcano crater. It’s also the site of a popular short 2km walk along the crater rim.

Surrounded by trees that turn brilliant colours in Autumn, this shady, free campsite offers clean toilets and fireplaces. You’ll need to bring your own water and firewood, and take note of restrictions for fires. Dogs are welcome to join you, as long as they stay on a leash.

Mt Franklin Reserve
Mt Franklin Reserve offers basic dog-friendly camping

#5 North Gardens Camping Area, Walhalla

The historic village of Walhalla in a delightfully dog-friendly spot to visit, just over a two hour drive east of Melbourne, near Mt Baw Baw.

During my visit to Walhalla in late 2021, the North Gardens Camping Area was closed, following extensive storms during the year, but fortunately the popular dog-friendly campground was reopened in 2022 following renovations.

This free camping ground at the northern end of town supplies only basic facilities, but is a great option for camping in a campervan, caravan or tent. There are toilets onsite, but no showers or power. There’s also some gas operated barbecues under shelter and picnic tables.

As the campground doesn’t take bookings, be prepared to arrive early during peak periods, especially the summer school holidays and Easter long weekend.

North Gardens Camping Area Walhalla
The North Gardens Camping Area in Walhalla

#6 Maude Recreation Reserve, near Geelong

The city of Geelong suffers from a lack of dog-friendly caravan parks, especially now that the town is one terminus of the Spirit of Tasmania ferry crossing. However, when spending a few days exploring the city and its surrounds, we came across a great dog-friendly campsite.

If you drive 25 minutes north of Geelong, you’ll reach the Maude Recreation Reserve and Bunjil Lookout. Perched upon high ground with beautiful views to the west, this delightful spot features clean toilets, BBQ facilities, a communal fire pit and even a playground.

Note that it’s only permitted to camp at the spot for 48 hours. Donations are appreciated and highly recommended, so that this facility stays available.

Maude Recreation Reserve
Dog-friendly camping at the Maude Recreation Reserve

#7 Genoa Campground, near Mallacoota

Just south of the NSW-Victorian border when driving along the Princes Highway is the small locale of Genoa, close to the turn-off for Mallacoota. Genoa is home to a great donation campsite which is perfect for an overnight stay when driving along the highway or if you want to explore the nearby beaches.

I’ve camped before at Genoa twice, including once with my dog. The campground was once a small caravan park, and there’s still toilets onsite (with cleanliness varying) – handy if you’re not self-contained. The showers though have been disconnected and note that the water is not drinkable.

Genoa Sign
The sign at Genoa when I camped in 2021

The grass is often green and lush, great for if you’re just staying in a tent. Alongside is the Genoa River, where it’s possible to have a paddle during warm weather. Note that there is a maximum stay of 36 hours and make sure you leave a donation.

#8 Cann River Rainforest Campground, East Gippsland

On my most recent drive along the Princes Highway through East Gippsland, I came across another great free camping option about 30 minutes drive west of Genoa – the Cann River Rainforest Campground.

Also a former caravan park, these days its free to camp here, until further notice. (Make sure you support the shops in town!) Note that it’s only permitted to camp for up to 48 hours and there’s no longer any hot water or power – only cold water and unpowered sites are available. Pets are welcome to join you.

The camping ground is located in between the highway and the banks of the Cann River, surrounded by rainforest. I’ve read that there’s a walking track at the rear of the park, along with a resident Bell Bird colony.

#9 Tyrendarra Fitzroy River Reserve, near Portland

Just outside of the small town of Tyrendarra in western Victoria, about a 30 minute drive west of Portland, is a great low-cost camping reserve next to the beach, a great spot for camping with dogs in Victoria.

I haven’t camped at this location for many years, but it was a wonderful spot to camp in a tent on the grassy lawns for the night, surrounded by coastal scrub. There are long-drop toilets nearby and it’s just a short walk to the beach, a popular spot for fishing.

These days a friendly caretaker comes around to collect camping fees, which can be paid in cash or on card. The fees are currently $10 per night or $50 per week, but I believe this doesn’t apply over the winter, only between December and April.

Free Camping Victoria
Camping for the night at Tyrendarra Fitzroy River Reserve

#10 Taylors Lake Camping Ground, near Horsham

This dog-friendly campsite is also located in western Victoria, but a long way north, near Horsham. After a scenic drive through the Grampians National Park, we camped for the night here.

This campground is located on the northern shore of Lake Taylor and is completely free, yet well-maintained by GWM Water. Toilets are available, but there is no drinking water. It’s also advisable to be careful after rain – the dirt tracks throughout the campground turn to mud and it’s getting bogged is a real possibility.

Taylors Lake Camping Ground
Camp next to picturesque Taylors Lake

Most of the time the campground is rather quiet. It’s a good spot to access the silo art trail in western Victoria, one of the top dog-friendly things to do in country Victoria. There’s also a boat ramp at the lake with boating and fishing a popular past-time.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

2 thoughts on “10 of the Best Dog-Friendly Campsites in Victoria”

  1. Thank you so much for this information – it’s so helpful to have such comprehensive info based on your own experiences. One of the best sites I’ve come across for finding dog-friendly caravan parks and camping grounds


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