Years ago, I remember seeing a bumper sticker that read, ‘Better to have 1000 stars in the sky than 5 stars in a motel.’

At the time the kids hadn’t entered my world and, to be honest, camping wasn’t a part of my childhood experience (bar a few attempts in the backyard). So, I gladly opted for the motel stars. Then something shifted. Kids arrived and the more stories I heard from other families about their camping experiences, the more I felt we were missing out. And we were.

Our first real camping experience (by the Ovens River) is still one our favourite family moments. Despite our mattress deflating through the night, the experience helped us become a family again. No screens, no phones. Just the campfire, the stars, toasted marshmallows and love.

For diehard campers, cold and wet weather isn’t a barrier to packing up the car with the essentials and heading out to the call of nature. As we head into longer days, with spring bringing with it that much-anticipated warmer air, camp sites are being booked, and adventures await.

The Macedon Ranges has long been a favourite spot for a city escape. Firth Camp Parkground in Trentham East features an old historic arboretum site next to a large dam. It’s surrounded by the forest and heritage listed trees planted in the 1870’s. It even provides a number of horse yards.

Macedon Caravan Park is great for first time campers, boasting toilets and laundry facilities, as well as cabins if you’re not ready for the tent experience. It’s the perfect spot to set up base and explore nature at its best.

The calming sounds of the flowing creek and the lure of gold prospecting, which is permitted, makes Warburton Bridge Camping Ground in Glenluce, a fabulous free camping spot. The site remains one of the richest shallow alluvial goldfields in the world.

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Safari Tent at Big4 Castlemaine

Not far from there, tucked away in Castlemaine Diggings Heritage Park lies Vaughan Mineral Springs where free camping sets the scene for exploring the Loddon River, walking the Goldfields Track, discovering the remnants of a Chinese Market Garden and taking in the magnificent views of the nearby Red Nob cliffs.

A short drive from Daylesford sits Mount Franklin created more than 470,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption. A drive through pine trees leads to a 50-acre former caldera, now a popular camping ground year-round. It holds a special place in the heart of locals and has long been an inspiration for local artists.

Further south, lose yourself in the wooded camp sites of the free Lerderderg Campground, east of Blackwood. Rich in picturesque views, historic landmarks, rivers and amazing hiking tracks for the more adventurous. It is also a great location to base yourself for 4WD exploration.

While camp sites are available at the multi-award winning BIG4 Castlemaine Holiday Park, there’s a reason people book months in advance. With Bell glamping tents backing onto the Botanic Gardens, luxury cabins, a ‘glamtainer’ and safari tents, this is a little gem where nature takes centre stage to be experienced in style and comfort.

At Jubilee Lake Holiday Park on the outskirts of Daylesford, a mix of camping and cabin options are set among bushland, a man-made lake, historic trees, and open parklands where tame and sometimes cheeky peacocks double as a welcoming committee.

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Glamping tents at Daylesford Holiday Park

For the thousands of women who visit the region for weekend catch ups and the lovebirds who escape for a touch of romance, it’s the glamping experiences offered by Cosy Tents in Yandoit that provide an experience never to be forgotten. Fourteen eco-friendly glamping tents provide off grid luxury with several packages and options that will feel tailor-made for you. Whether you opt for a classic tent, a luxe Tent or an escape in one of the recently added bespoke hybrid tents, this little hidden pocket of bush is a gem where every detail is considered. From the soil to the stars and everything in between, Cosy Tents encapsulates the stillness to recharge. 

One exclusively for the adults is Dayget’s Skyview Bubbletent. Sleeping under a clear roofed tent, set in untouched bushland on a private farm allows the true healing powers of nature to really work its magic and ardor is a given. 

Glamping tents can also be found tucked away in the tranquil settings of Daylesford Holiday Park where beautiful platters featuring great local produce can be organised for your arrival. 

So, while I’m still on my camping “L Plates’, a slow renovation of an 80’s pop up camper ensures we will soon have the best of both worlds and a night under the stars will become a reality in this beautiful part of the world. 

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Dayget's Skyview Bubbletent

Hero image: Cosy Tents hybrid tent, by Stefani Driscoll Photography

About the author

Narelle Groenhout
Narelle Groenhout
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Narelle is a proud tree-changer who only a year or so ago, with her family, swapped suburban Melbourne life and a corporate communications role to fulfil her dream to raise her children in the country and live in a connected and compassionate community. Narelle feels like she has found her community in Daylesford and the surrounding region. Moving from a quarter-acre block on a busy road to an old farmhouse on a two and half acre piece of paradise, bordered on one side by a spring fed creek and the other by majestic eucalypt forest, Narelle has found the life she was looking for, spending her days gardening, entertaining friends and family and writing stories about the remarkable people she has met in her new community, along with trawling the local op-shops, markets, second-hand and tip shops for new treasures.