After having a truly amazing time in the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, we were excited by the prospect of seeing what Victoria would have to offer, and the Grampians seemed like another beautiful, but similar region to check out. After much looking around, we decided on spending 3 nights at Smiths Mill Campground, and here’s our thoughts, along with everything you need to know.
Where is Smiths Mill Campground?
You’ll find this National Parks campground in the northern part of the Grampians, roughly 20 minutes away from Halls Gap. It’s also just up the road from the Wartook Reservoir, and McKenzie Falls.
We decided this location would work well to have a few relaxing days, whilst doing McKenzie Falls and the Balconies walk.
What sort of vehicles does it accommodate?
Smiths Mill Campground has room for a range of different types of setups. A lot of the camp sites are tents only, with car parks out the front of each site, with some big enough for camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes (depending on clearance!), but we did find the exact site spacing awfully odd.
What amenities are at Smiths Mill Campground?
You’ll find the usual array of drop toilets here, none of which have a vent or fan on top so they are fairly smelly (at least from our perspective, compared to WA!). There’s a number of shared fire pits, plenty of picnic tables and there’s even a shower, which is pretty neat.
You should know that the shower is just a stainless bucket with a shower rose on the bottom, and to use it you need to bring water (pre-warmed if you can!), and tip it into the bucket, raise it up and then turn the tap on. It’s basic, but I’m impressed to see this at a campground, and its something that would be easy enough to roll out elsewhere!
How much is the camping?
Camping here is $15.70 per night, per site, which we thought was pretty reasonable.
Bird and animal life
We were quite shocked at the animal life in this camp ground. Admittedly it got worse as more people rolled in, but when we first arrived and there was only one other camper on the other side of the grounds, we were greeted with an incredible array of animals.
Two emus were walking around town, and one was clearly used to people as it came right up to our annex and even decided to sit down metres away from our camp and rest for a while. I’m sure it would steal food as it came around the corner looking at our oldest sons food, and I had to shoo it away a bit. EDIT – it nicked a whole banana off our outdoor kitchen table, so they’re game!
There were also a handful of small kangaroos metres from our site, happily lazing on the lawn, and a huge array of bird life. Blue wrens, red breasted wrens, sulphur crested cockatoos, magpies and a heap of other little birds were everywhere, and we really enjoyed their company.
I’m quietly confident I saw a fox as well, although I could have been mistaken.
What is the camp ground like?
In terms of views, amenities and the general area, we really liked Smiths Mill. It’s a stunning place, with crushed limestone around the place that doesn’t go muddy (like our previous stay at Glendinning!), and it’s a good place to be.
I question why the camp sites have been demarcated as they were, and why you’d have the numbers of each site at the back of the site where you can’t see them. They’ve jammed some weird sites in around others, but for the most part if you look carefully online and book something you are happy with its all good.
We were told number 6 is the best, but it wouldn’t have been great for solar. We stayed in number 2, which was fantastic as no one was in the site nearby. If they were though, we’d have had very little views and very little room for the kids to run around.
Would we go back to Smiths Mill?
Yep, with no issues at all. It’s in a beautiful part of the world, and its nice and quiet, close to McKenzie Falls and the reservoir and is a lovely place to relax. Our 3 nights here were greatly appreciated, before moving onto the Halls Gap Lakeside Tourist Park.