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Best free campgrounds near Ballarat

Posted 20/01/2021 in Places



The Ballarat region hosts a huge collection of fantastic free campgrounds! Whether you're looking for a summer lake-side camp, a peaceful bushland setting, or a scenic spot by the river, you're sure to find the perfect destination for your next camping trip. This massive list covers all the best campgrounds within an hour of Ballarat and includes distance from town, visitor facilities, things to do, and whether you can bring your dog along with you!

Smythesdale Gardens, Smythesdale VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 18 mins
  • Facilities: Undercover camp kitchen, free electric barbecue, microwave, toaster, electric frying pan, sandwich press, powerpoints, picnic shelters, picnic tables, toilets, showers, playground.
  • Things to do: Walking, cycling, horse riding, explore historic sites around Smythesdale.
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
  • Note: Bookings are required, donations are encouraged
Easily one of the best campgrounds in the Ballarat region, Smythesdale Gardens provides outstanding visitor facilities and a massive camping area, popular for caravans and RVs. Features include a large undercover picnic shelter complete with electric barbecue, kitchen appliances, fireplaces and powerpoints, as well as a shady playground, toilets and showers. Donations can be made at the Smythesdale Roadhouse or Post Office.

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Lake Burrumbeet Foreshore Camping Area, Burrumbeet VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 22 mins
  • Facilities: Toilets, boat ramp
  • Things to do: Swimming, boating, fishing, walking
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
Pitch a tent along the shore of the beautiful Lake Burrumbeet and settle in for a weekend of swimming, fishing or boating! Free camping is permitted along the lake's foreshore, and long drop toilets are available for visitor use. You'll find plenty of shady spots beneath the large trees to set up your camp chair and relax, while keeping an eye out for the Lake's many resident pelicans. 

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Slaty Creek, Creswick VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 25 mins
  • Facilities: Gazebo, picnic tables, wood fire barbecues, toilets
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, gold prospecting
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
Slaty Creek Campground No 1 is the first (and best) of three campsites along Slaty Creek within the Creswick Regional Park. This area is fantastic for bushwalking, birdwatching and gold prospecting. Take a stroll through the beautiful forest or bring along a gold pan and try your luck panning in the seasonal creek. 

Click for more info on Slaty Creek Campground No 1.


Iron Mine and Blast Furnace, Lal Lal VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 29 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, wood fire barbecue, toilets
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, self-guided tour around historic area
  • Dogs allowed: No
The iron mine and blast furnace is located in the Bungal Historical Area, a beautiful area for bushwalking. There's a peaceful picnic area complete with picnic tables, fire pits, wood fire barbecue, toilets, and plenty of room for camping.

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Surface Point Picnic Area, Enfield VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 30 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic table, wood fire barbecues, toilets
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, gold prospecting
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
Set up camp at Surface Point and spend a weekend exploring the fascinating landscape and history of the Enfield State Park. Set above the seasonal Mount Misery Creek with views across the surrounding bushland, this is a great area for bushwalking and gold prospecting. 

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The Dam Campground, Mount Beckworth VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 31 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, wood fire barbecues
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, walk to lookout at iconic Lollypop Tree
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
This peaceful campground sits alongside a seasonal dam and is surrounded by bushland within the Mount Beckworth Scenic Reserve, a fantastic area for bushwalking. 

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Manna Gums Campground, Mount Beckworth VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 33 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, wood fire barbecues
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, walk to lookout at iconic Lollypop Tree
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
The Manna Gums Campground lies in a peaceful bushland setting within the Mount Beckworth Scenic Reserve, a fantastic area for bushwalking.

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Werribee River Camping Ground, Spargo Creek VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 33 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, wood fire barbecues, mineral spring tap
  • Things to do: Werribee River Walk, four wheel driving, trail bike riding
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
The Werribee River Camping Ground is a massive clearing surrounded by forest along the scenic Werribee River. This is a great spot for camping, four wheel driving, motorbike riding and bushwalking.

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Hunts Bridge Camping Area, Morrisons VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 34 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, wood fire barbecues
  • Things to do: Swimming, fishing
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
A local favourite for swimming and picnics, the Hunts Bridge Camping Area is sprawled along the bank of the gorgeous Moorabool River in Morrisons, half an hour from Ballarat. With plenty of space for tents, RVs and caravans, there are many great spots to set up camp in the huge clearing along the roadside, and a few more campsites down along the water. 

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Cork Oaks Campground, Mount Beckworth VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 39 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, wood fire barbecues, toilets
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, walk to lookout at iconic Lollypop Tree
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
Surrounded by rocky peaks, bushland and beautiful views, Cork Oaks is a fantastic free campground and picnic area in the Mount Beckworth Scenic Reserve. This is the perfect place to set up camp and explore the natural and historical features of Mount Beckworth.

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Balt Camp, Blakeville VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 41 mins
  • Facilities: Fire pit
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, explore historic site
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
Pitch a tent behind the historical remains of the Balt Camp, a 1940s work camp built by the Forestry Commission after World War Two to provide employment for young Northern European immigrants who had been displaced. Built in 1946, today the site consists of two chimneys and the foundations/stone walls of multiple buildings including the cook house, managers hut and toilet block. The remains of the Able Mine lie across the other side of Camp Road. Free camping is permitted here, and there are several clearings behind the ruins where you can set up camp. There is a fire pit in the first clearing, but no other visitor facilities present - campers must be self sufficient.

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Colbrook Reservoir, Colbrook VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 42 mins
  • Facilities: None
  • Things to do: Swimming, fishing, bushwalking, photography
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
One of the most beautiful lakes in the Victorian Goldfields, Colbrook Reservoir is an amazing place for bushwalking, swimming, bush camping, and photography. Featuring a stunning dam wall complete with seasonal waterfall, this place is a must-see when exploring the beauty of the Wombat State Forest. There are a couple of great clearings for camping, swimming and fishing around the reservoir over on the opposite side to the dam wall. Please note that there are no facilities here, visitors must be self-sufficient and take all their rubbish with them when they leave. A four wheel drive vehicle required to access the reservoir and campsite. 

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Stoney Creek Track Campground, Stony Creek VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 44 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, fire pit
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, gold prospecting
  • Dogs allowed: No
The Stoney Creek Track Campground is located within the Caralulup Nature Conservation Reserve, a large area of bushland between Talbot, Caralulup and Stony Creek. The area is filled with extensive evidence of historical gold workings including mine shafts, gullies and uneven ground, so be careful if walking off the track. Gold prospecting is permitted within this reserve.

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Paradise Camp, Blakeville VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 45 mins
  • Facilities: None
  • Things to do: Bushwalking
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
Paradise Camp is a basic bush campsite consisting of a cool, shady clearing enclosed beneath the leafy trees. Although there are no visitor facilities here, it's a beautiful spot and there's plenty of room to pitch tents and park cars. This is a great spot to set up camp while exploring the scenic beauty of the Wombat State Forest. Four wheel drives are recommended for reaching Paradise Camp, and are essential in wet conditions.

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Mount Franklin, Mount Franklin VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 46 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, wood fire barbecues, fire pits, toilets
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, lookout
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
A gorgeous and peaceful campground rests within the scenic crater of an extinct volcano at Mount Franklin. Bordered by conifer forest, the crater has been decorated with ornamental trees such as Silver Birch, White Poplar, Sycamore and Californian Redwoods. A large, central lawn area is surrounded by a ring of campsites with picnic tables and wood fire barbecues. 

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Moorabool River Camping Area

  • Distance from Ballarat: 47 mins
  • Facilities: Fire pit
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, have a splash in the shallow creek
  • Dogs allowed: No
The Moorabool River Camping Area sits alongside a scenic gorge, where a short walking track takes you down the gorgeous shady waters of the river below. A few small clear areas between the dirt track and the gorge provide room to pitch a couple of tents. Aside from a fire pit there are no visitor facilities at this campsite so campers must be self sufficient. 



Smiths Bridge Campground, Raglan VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 48 mins
  • Facilities: Undercover area, picnic tables, wood fire barbecues, fire pits, water tap, toilets, horse pen
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, horse riding, four wheel driving
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
Smiths Bridge Campground sits at the edge of the beautiful Mount Cole State Forest and features an undercover area, picnic tables, fire pits, wood fire barbecues, running water, toilets and a wooden horse pen. Mt Cole is a bushwalking paradise, with many fantastic walks throughout the forest including the Beeripmo Walk, Grevillea Walk, Woods Gully Walk, Paradise Walk and Borella Walk. 

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Richards Campground, Raglan VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 50 mins
  • Facilities: Undercover area, picnic tables, wood fire barbecues, fire pits, toilets
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, horse riding, four wheel driving, walk to seasonal waterfall nearby
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
Richards Campground is a fantastic free campsite in the Mt Cole State Forest, with excellent picnic facilities and multiple walk options (including a gorgeous seasonal waterfall). 

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Ditchfield Camp, Raglan VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 55 mins
  • Facilities: Camp hut, picnic tables, fire pits, toilets
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, horse riding, four wheel driving
  • Dogs allowed: Yes
Ditchfield Camp is a fantastic free camping area within the Mount Cole State Forest - a beautiful scenic area with amazing views, popular for camping, horse riding, four wheel driving, walking and picnicking. The campsite features a large wooden hut with concrete floor, bench table (no seating) and an open fireplace. This hut is available to camp in. No fees or bookings are required, it is recommended to arrive early if you are seeking to use the hut as it is used on a 'first in first served' basis. 

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Paddys Ranges Campground, Adelaide Lead VIC

  • Distance from Ballarat: 57 mins
  • Facilities: Picnic tables, wood fire barbecues, toilets
  • Things to do: Bushwalking, gold prospecting (in designated areas of the park)
  • Dogs allowed: No
Paddys Ranges Campground is located within Paddys Ranges State Park, a beautiful Box-Ironbark forest which has over 230 species of wildflowers (including around 30 types of orchids) and over 140 native bird species. Throughout Paddys Ranges State Park you can find relics and reminders of an industrious past. Visitors can retrace the steps of "Paddy", a miner who roamed the area in the 1800s.

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Raymond kemp
21/01/2021
Good on you Ballarat ð'