As of 1 July, camping fees now apply to 197 of the state's 680 campsites. New fees apply at some sites where there were already fees for camping. Fees have been introduced for another 98 campgrounds in 11 parks (indicated in red below); the majority of these campgrounds are in the Basic/Very Basic category.
The parks at which fees apply are listed below. At these campgrounds there is no longer the option of 'honesty box' payment for the campsites. You need to book your site at www.parks.vic.gov.au/stay, or by calling Parks Victoria's Information Centre on 13 1963 before arriving at the campground. For some sites a phone booking charge applies. You can book up to 12 months ahead.
- Baw Baw National Park
- Brisbane Ranges National Park
- Broken-Boosey State Park (schools camp only)
- Buchan Caves
- Bunyip State Park
- Cape Conran Coastal Park
- Cape Liptrap Coastal Park
- Cathedral Range State Park
- Cobboboonee National Park
- Corringle Foreshore Reserve
- Croajingolong National Park
- Discovery Bay Coastal Park
- Falls to Hotham Alpine Crossing at Alpine National Park
- French Island National Park
- Gabo Island Reserve
- Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park
- Glenelg River Canoe Trail
- Grampians National Park
- Great Ocean Walk
- Great Otway National Park
- Hattah-Kulkyne National Park
- Kinglake National Park
- Kurth Kiln Regional Park
- Lake Eildon National Park
- Lerderderg State Park
- Little Desert National Park
- Longridge Camp
- Lower Glenelg National Park
- Mornington Peninsula National Park
- Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park
- Mount Buangor State Park
- Mount Buffalo National Park
- Mount Eccles National Park
- Mount Samaria State Park
- Murray-Sunset National Park
- Nioka Bush Camp at Plenty Gorge
- Peachtree Creek Reserve
- The Lakes National Park
- Upper Yarra Reservoir Park
- Wilsons Promontory National Park
- Wyperfeld National Park
The booking website provides good details of facilities at the campground and how many people are permitted per campsite. Some campsites are booked per person – for example, the Farmyard at the Cathedral Range SP or the Wilderness Coast Walk at Croajingolong NP. The maximum number of people or tents permitted per campsite varies according to location, from one person to six people. To be absolutely clear about whether this maximum refers to the people or the number of tents, you need to check the details and terms and conditions for the particular campground.
You can tell at a glance which campsites are available at a specified date.
At some campgrounds, the standard booking includes one vehicle per campsite and there is charge for each additional vehicle. At the Cathedral Range State Park, for example, the maximum is three vehicles per booking; vehicles two and three cost $9.20 each. You need to enter the registration number of each vehicle.
Arrival and departure times vary between campgrounds. Most - mainly the more remote sites - do not have specified times. Others do: for example, in the Cathedral Range SP arrival and departure times are 1400 and 1100hrs respectively; Kinglake NP 1200 and 1000 respectively. So you need to check this, and if you intend to arrive early or leave late, you will need to book additional days.
It may take a bit of practice to use the booking site without experiencing frustration. There are instructions for how to book undercover accommodation at http://www.parkstay.vic.gov.au/making-a-booking. There do not seem to be instructions for how to book campsites for a multi-night hike.
The booking procedure has a number of irritating aspects. Contradictory information is sometimes provided in different parts of the booking site. For example, for the Great Ocean Walk, the Details part of the site states: 'Individual camping for Great Ocean Walk purpose-built hike-in campsites: 12 people in up to 4 (3 person tent) sites'. The description under More states: '8 individual hike-in campsites with a limit of 3 people per site'. The Terms and Conditions state the maximum group is 16 people. I experienced error messages for some campsites where I tried to book additional vehicles, eg, the Cathedral Range SP.
I had a practice booking a Great Ocean Walk (GOW). Here are some tips about using the booking website.
- Number of people: I entered 12 in the Adults dialog box. This closed out the booking dialog boxes and I could not proceed with the booking. So you it seems that you don't enter the total number of people in the Adults dialog box, but enter the number of people per tent site. So for 12 adults I entered 3 in the Adult dialog box and then 4 in the Quantity dialog box for each tent site.
- Dates: If you are booking an extended walk, you do not nominate the date range; instead you select each date for each campsite individually. Right and proper, because one might want to stay more than one night at a particular spot or walk in the opposite direction (neither of which you can do that on the GOW) to which the campsites are listed.
- After you click the Book Now button, you are required to enter a motor vehicle registration number(s) and emergency contact information. If you don't have a vehicle, you enter 'No vehicle'. All good stuff, but you are required to repeat the information at for next campsite you want to book.
- You then click Add to Cart to 'lock in' the nominated campsite and select the next date and go through the process again.
Note: Some parks – eg, Grampians NP - have assigned campsites; you select a particular campsite.
- After entering the details for the final campsite, click Buy Now. Your booking details are displayed for each tent site booked and each night booked. (It will be a long and repetitive list for a longish walk for a largish group.) You need to check this list carefully to make sure that your booking is precisely what you want. There is a little cancel button for each item, so that you can cancel an incorrect booking and then redo it.
- Finally you enter your identity and contact details. Like all similar sites, you need to accept the Terms and Conditions.
- You can pay by Mastercard or Visa. That's as far as I went in my test. You should receive a confirmation email that includes a receipt.
- Note: I tested the site by put in arbitrary and inconsistent information. The system does not seem to verify information entered. But as I did not proceed to actual payment, I cannot confirm that it would have accepted my booking in such circumstances.
You need to be very sure of your intentions - number of walkers, intended campsites, dates and so on - because there seems to be no capacity for subsequent variation to a finalised booking.
30 days prior, 50% cancellation fee.
Less than 30 days prior, 100% cancellation fee.
Joslin Guest, Editor