Weekend getaways don't have to cost an arm and a leg — at these free camping sites, all you need is enough money for snacks, wine and petrol.
If you want to spend your weekend among the dramatic sandstone formations of The Grampians, park your tent at Plantation. Despite being the biggest campground in the Grampians National Park, it's free.
This expansive, flat, grassy campground hugs the shores of Lake Colac. So prepare for tranquil water views and dreamy sunsets, which will make you feel as though you're worlds away from offices and trams.
MEREDITH PARK, LAKE COLAC
If you're desperate to immerse yourself in trees, but don't have much travel time to spare, make a beeline to Kurth Kiln, one of the closest bush campgrounds to Melbourne and a dog-friendly one at that.
KURTH KILN, DANDENONG RANGES
This rather spectacular spot puts you in the middle of a volcanic crater. You'll find Mount Franklin — known as Lalgambook by the Djadja Wurrung people — located 11 kilometres north of Daylesford and about 90 minutes northwest of Melbourne.
MOUNT FRANKLIN RESERVE, NEAR DAYLESFORD
Make a proper escape from the city with a visit to Gunbower National Park, on the banks of the Murray River. This precious strip of forest dotted with billabongs and wetlands is actually an island, made up of 26,400 hectares of flood plain.
GUNBOWER NATIONAL PARK, MURRAY RIVER
Another spot that makes for a handy base is Butts Reserve, on the outskirts of Maldon. From here, you can wander among Maldon's beautifully-preserved 19th century architecture and grab some fresh produce from Maldon Cherry Farm.
To pitch your tent near both stunning old-growth forest and wineries, make tracks to Toolangi. The campground, kindly maintained by a bunch of local volunteers, is beside a cricket oval on the banks of Yea River.
TOOLANGI RECREATION RESERVE, YARRA VALLEY
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