So, I went camping while living in Melbourne. Well, kind of.
My friends and I went on a journey outside of the city to explore Cathedral Range State Park, planning to camp for the night. We had the best of intentions. We booked a campsite at Cooks Mill campground well in advance.
We gathered a tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear and all the miscellaneous camping necessities. We set off in our rental car packed to the gills with the camping equipment, ready for our adventure.
I hadn’t camped in quite a while, so I was looking forward to getting out and enjoying a night in the great outdoors. Plus it would be the first time I camped in Australia!
But we set out on a cold—seriously cold—rainy day. And it was forecast to remain that way through the night. Yet still we did not lose hope, entirely. We drove about halfway through the 2.5 hour drive to our destination—stuffed like sardines in the car—and stopped for lunch in Yea. Great name, cute little town.
We had lunch at Marmalades. It is a cute little café along the main street that passes through town. We enjoyed a tasty cup of warm coffee and had a scrumptious meal, all while sitting next to a cozy fire. It was lovely. And comfortable. And that’s when we lost heart.
There was no way we were going to camp. It was too cold and too wet. And really, the point of camping is to get out and enjoy nature. There was no chance we’d enjoy nature that night. We knew it would just be a miserable stay and a long night.
So, we called a nearby motel, which I had looked up before we set off because one should never be unprepared, and booked a room with a queen size bed and a pull out couch for only $60 (AUD). We stayed at the Rubicon Hotel Motel Holiday Inn… wait, scratch the Holiday Inn part. Pitbull has some catchy tunes. Moving right along.
The Rubicon was a nice spot with a comfortable room, and most importantly, heating. It was the absolute best decision to forgo the campsite, and we let out a collective sigh of relief when we settled in to the room. There really wasn’t much to do in the area, but we had plenty of fun.
We had a bit of a camping experience in the hotel. We cooked dinner and breakfast out in the parking lot on our camping stove. Not entirely sure if that was allowed, but no one gave us any grief about it. We dined in the comfort of our hotel room, savoring the warmth of our surroundings.
To pass the time, we also played a variety of games. We played Dutch Blitz, which is a fun, fast-paced card game that you should really look into if you’ve never heard of it. We also drank a healthy amount of booze, playing some drinking games and sharing in general merriment and good conversation. It was an incredibly fun evening with a great group of people.
The next day we got a lazy start to the morning, leaving about an hour or two past check out time. But the hotel wasn’t all that busy, and the staff was totally relaxed. They didn’t give us any trouble about checking out late; actually, they didn’t even acknowledge our delayed departure.
Thankfully, the weather was much more pleasant on day two. It was still cold, but the sun was out and it was dry. So we headed to Cathedral Range to explore the state park and tackle a hike. Even if we didn’t end up camping in nature, we weren’t going to pass up the opportunity to enjoy some time outdoors.
We made it in to the park with no problem even though part of the road is unsealed. However, if the road got a good soaking, I imagine it would be difficult to navigate without four-wheel drive. We parked at the Jawbone Carpark and hiked along the Jawbone Creek Track up to North Jawbone Track, which is a steep climb up to North Jawbone Peak.
The hike was a good balance between challenging and beautiful. It definitely got our hearts pumping and sweat dripping. The tracks go through a variety of stunning flora. But the best part of the trek was the view from the peak. It offers a sweeping view of the forest and valley below. Quite a breathtaking experience, literally and figuratively.
Though we didn’t end with quite as involved of a nature experience as we intended, it turned out to be a great weekend. Cathedral Range State Park is absolutely worth a visit and would be a grand place to go camping in pleasant weather. It also makes a great spot to day trip from Melbourne for an outdoor getaway and hike or two.
What is your favorite place to camp?