After a different campground at Lake Mountain, we packed up and rolled down the hill, keen to find a nice campground on a creek, and Big River State Forest Camping was the most likely option without driving a huge number of kilometres.
Where is Big River State Forest?
The Big River State Forest is about 170km North East of Melbourne, and about 30km South West of Jamieson. You can access a number of the Victorian High Country 4WD tracks from Big River Road, like Mt Terrible, and Mt Matlock, to name a few.
Do you need a 4WD to get there?
Big River Road runs the length of this park, and is a gravel road that is maintained by the Forestry guys and girls. They were out and about grading the road when we visited in mid March, and the road conditions vary quite a bit.
Most of the road is in good condition, but there are sections that are quite corrugated, rocky and a few places with some decent sized pot holes to avoid. I’m going to say its certainly AWD vehicle friendly, and probably 2WD friendly if you are careful, but watch the holes!
Are there many campgrounds?
There’s a huge number of formal campgrounds, and I’m sure there are plenty more that are not marked on the map. We drove in and checked out about 8 of them, before picking one and staying the night.
Some of the campgrounds include Married Mens, Big River Camp, Petroffs, Fishbone Flat, Stockmans Reward, Snowy Road, Miners Flat, Dairy Flat, McClelland, Gang Gang Gully, Bobuck ridge, Specimen Creek, Frenchmans Creek, Peppermint Ridge, Vennells, Big Bend Creek, Catford and 25 mile creek.
There’s lots to choose from, and you could spend all day looking at them all, before choosing something.
How good are the campgrounds?
We thought the campgrounds were amazing, for the simple fact that there are so many, and they are free. Many are close to beautiful streams and creeks, and quite a few even have toilets. Some are harder to get to than others, and there’s a few mosquito’s about, but we really liked this area.
Are they suitable for caravans?
We towed our Reconn R2 into a huge number of camp sites, with a lot of them suitable (or just suitable) for it. If you have a full size van though, you’ll want to be much more cautious. Stockmans Reward, Frenchmans Creek and Big River Camp are the 3 more suitable caravan camp sites, but you might squeeze them in elsewhere.
Just walk the track first, as some of them you’ll never turn around, or make it through the trees!
What does it cost?
Every single one of these campgrounds is completely free, which is pretty awesome. Victoria so far has destroyed other states in terms of free campgrounds that are set up for the public to use, and a lot of them have amenities that are actually pretty good.
What amenities do they have?
Some of the campgrounds have toilets, and a lot of them have fire pits. Make sure you look your campground up though, as they don’t all have toilets, and then you need to bring your own.
We stayed at Fishbone Flats
After driving and checking out most of the campgrounds on the way to Frenchmans Creek, we turned around and went back to Fishbone Flats. This was done for three reasons; its small and private, you can camp very close to the creek and the creek itself is nice and shallow for the kids to splash around in, without worrying that they’ll fall over into deep water.
Dairy Flat was a really nice spot that we considered staying at, but you wouldn’t get a full size van down here, and the water was quite deep and flowing quickly.
Would we go back?
Yep, its an amazing area. Who doesn’t like camping next to a pristine creek or river, for free with just the birds and other wildlife to keep you company?
The mosquitos and march flies at Fishbone Flats were a real pain in the backside (and really the first time we’ve had issues with mozzies in Victoria), but its still a beautiful place.