Geelong’s most underrated bushwalking and camping destination

Geelong’s most underrated bushwalking and camping destination

Photo by Parks Vic
Words by Ashlee Simpson

Less than an hours drive away from Geelong and just outside of Anakie, the Brisbane Ranges National Park offers a gorgeous bush scenery and a quiet escape from the tourist-filled hotspots of the Surf Coast.

Nestled in the heart of Steiglitz just beyond Anakie, live Victoria’s richest wildflower, bird, and grass tree habitat that house a dense population of kangaroos and koalas.

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The Brisbane Ranges National Park is arguably one of Geelong’s, if not Victoria’s, most underrated bush destination. “Set in a low range of mountains dissected by rocky gullies, the unusual geology of the Brisbane Ranges has preserved plants that have long since vanished from other parts of the region,” says Parks Victoria.

After being devastated by bushfire in January 2006 before rejuvenating to the glory it is today, the stunning landscape boasts a compact variety of activities such as:

  • Scenic drives where visitors can indulge in the terrain,
  • Adventurous hikes where bushwalkers can choose to hike or birdwatch amongst the vast flora, or
  • Toast marshmallows under the stars of the secluded campgrounds.

Here is a selection of destinations within the Brisbane Ranges worth checking out:

Boar Gully Campground

Only a 55-minute drive from Geelong, the secluded Boar Gully campground is located at the northern end of the park. Surrounded by kangaroos and koalas, the site has six unpowered tent-appropriate sites and one unpowered camp trailer/caravan space; all easily accessible by vehicle. There are shared picnic tables and designated fireplaces, as well as drop toilets and untreated tank water. The campground is also a trailhead for the Burchell Trail, where hikers may choose to begin or conclude their hike. Camping at the Boar Gully Campground can be booked for under $20 a night here.

Burchell Trail

The Burchell Trail is a three-day hike that navigates through the core of the Brisbane Ranges, where hikers can easily stroll through the 35km track and admire the dense bush. Trail hiking describes the “terrain as generally flat or gently sloping with only a small amount of elevation to gain on the climbs”. Whilst it is not a circuit and hikers would need to either drive up with someone else or re-do the track to retrieve their vehicle, each day involves roughly 10km of distance, with hike-in sites available for rest. Hiking blogger Greg at Hiking Fiasco has documented his journey completing the trail and all of its ups and downs (literally!) here.

Fridays Campground and Picnic Area

Alike the Boar Gully Campground, Fridays Campground possesses a landscape of wildlife and is secluded by the surrounding dense treeline. Closer to Geelong at 47 minutes in the car and a bumpy but still 2WD accessible route, Fridays Campground has eight unpowered sites for tents, and two unpowered sites for a camp trailer/caravan, as well as being the second trailhead to the Burchell Trail. Similar amenities include drop toilets and untreated tank water, as well as a separate picnic area for day-trip adventurers to wander from. Bookings are available here.

So if you are desperate for a cheeky little bush getaway without the hassle of having to travel beyond an hour, consider the Brisbane Ranges National Park.