When you don’t want to slum it in the bush, tripping over guy ropes as you cook dehydrated meals over a flickering gas stove, but you also want to avoid the airless, sterile hotel experience, glamping is a happy medium.
Fortunately the comfort-camping market is well and truly thriving in Victoria, with luxury glamping tents and caravans sprouting all over the state, allowing guests to combine nature and wildlife with just the right amount of decadence (and yes, a sprinkling of pampering).
In Victoria you can go glamping in the bush, travel by boat to a secluded island set-up or stay in an Airstream caravan on a city rooftop. In partnership with Click for Vic, an initiative that encourages people to support Victorian businesses, we check out Victoria’s top summer glamping escapes.
Cosy Tents Daylesford
Anyone who claims they don’t like camping is likely to be won over when they step inside one of these bell tents furnished with a queen bed and luxury linens (and, yes, charging points for all your devices).
Set in the hills of Hepburn Shire, near Daylesford, the tents here are well-spaced and nestled among trees, so you get privacy but also plenty of atmosphere. With all camping essentials provided, you don’t need to pack much – which cures another tiresome headache of “real” camping. There’s also a communal firepit, a toilet block, hot showers and barbeque facilities.
Cosy Tents also do packages, which are perfect for Christmas presents. With the Moët Moments package, the lucky guests will arrive to a bottle of Moët & Chandon Brut Imperial NV on ice in the tent, plus a selection of Pana organic chocolates. Even the most reluctant camper can’t say no to that.
Balgownie Estate Winery Glamping and Accommodation
Here’s the snag with visiting wineries – someone always has to drive home. Balgownie Estate, just west of Bendigo, solves this issue by providing all manner of accommodation – from a seven-bedroom homestead to luxury glamping tents.
Those 15 tents are scattered all around the winery, each with stunning views of the countryside and surrounding bushland. The tents are equipped with Queen beds; air con and heating; and all the glamping essentials (including a fluffy robe and slippers). Most have shared bathrooms, but you can go for broke and book a luxurious safari tent to enjoy your own ensuite and a claw bathtub on the deck.
Wander over to the winery restaurant for dinner, then head back to your deck for a glass of wine as the sun sets over the vineyards.
Werribee Zoo Slumber Safari
Many Melburnians don’t realise there’s a place near the city where lions, rhinos, hippos, zebras, giraffes, cheetahs and meerkats roam freely across a savannah – and that you can stay there in a safari lodge and watch them frolic right in front of your eyes.
The Slumber Safari includes two days of access to the open-range zoo, a guided open-top bus tour, an African-inspired dinner and breakfast, sunset drinks, exclusive animal viewing opportunities and one night’s accommodation in a luxury lodge with your own private deck overlooking the plains. After this weekend away on the fringes of Melbourne, you’ll feel like you’ve just returned from the other side of the world.
A fleet of silver Airstream caravans parked on the rooftop of a spray-paint-splattered car park in a dingy laneway in the CBD sounds like the punchline of a gag about Melbourne stereotypes – except it’s real. This CBD rooftop on the corner of Harper Lane and Flinders Lane is particularly swish – all red carpet and glittering silver surfaces, with warm lights, planter boxes and pallet verandahs. Your usual trailer park this ain’t.
Inside your caravan you’ll find a luxe queen bed with organic bamboo sheets; an ensuite bathroom; a free minibar stocked with wine, beer, soft drinks and snacks; free Netflix on an iPad Pro and free wi-fi; and an HP Sprocket photo printer to fully document all your rooftop selfie moments. You’ll also find a virtual concierge on the iPad, who’ll provide tips on the best bars, restaurants and nightspots in the CBD. Splash out on the Airstream with Benefits and you’ll score an open-air spa in prime position overlooking Flinders Lane.
French Island Glamping
About 70 kilometres south-east of the CBD is French Island, an undeveloped and supremely peaceful gem in Western Port Bay that’s largely overlooked when planning a getaway. Accessible only by boat, the island is completely off grid, relying on solar, wind and diesel for power and the rain for drinking water. Perfect for glamping, really.
The glamping eco-retreat here is surrounded by eucalypt forest and set on a hill with a view of the ocean. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see a koala (although not native to the island, koalas have thrived here). Walk down to a secluded beach for a swim or a sunset stroll among the mangroves, or pack your bicycle and explore the island on two wheels.
The bell tents include a queen bed with luxury linen, cosy doonas, bluetooth speakers, complimentary toiletries and daily housekeeping. You have your own private firepit with firewood provided, but toilet and shower facilities are shared. There’s also a communal kitchen with all utensils supplied, and a picturesque barbeque area under the trees. This is about as luxurious as it gets on this unspoilt, charming island.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Visit Victoria. Support Victorian producers by buying online through Click for Vic and hitting the road to visit in person.