It hasn’t been very long since our last camping trip at Marengo but before we kiss 2020 goodbye, might as well go for one last camping trip to wrap up the year. We really wanted to go for beach side caravan parks or camp sites because like most kids, our 3-year-old loves the water. Unfortunately, everything on the coast was booked out, we had to look elsewhere and that’s how we came across Lake Sambell Caravan Park at Beechworth.
To be honest, my first thoughts were, maybe it’s not that good; yes, you can swim in there but it’s no beach; how can it still have a few slots when all the others are fully booked? Anyway, we did some research and it turns out it’s got everything you could ever want in a camping trip — bike trails, fishing spots, historic sites and massive camping grounds. I hate to compare but my only fear at that point was that, the Marengo trip was just too good this place may feel mediocre at best. Boy was I wrong.
Let’s check it out!
Lake Sambell Caravan Park is in Beechworth, Victoria. Located 286km North of Melbourne CBD, it will give you a good 3+ hours drive. Luckily for us, we live up North so it’s 250km or just around 2 1/2 hours drive — that’s decent trip if you are into long drives. Word of caution, the Hume freeway can get very windy so make sure your top loads and bike racks are properly secured, if any. Safety first.
The park’s check in time was 12pm but you can go as early as 11am. I always like to go as early as I can so I thought we should aim to be there by 9am. The plan was to bike around and check the place out while waiting for the check in time. Surprise surprise, we were late for our own schedule and got there are at around 11am — still on time for the check in though.
Instead of going for a bike around town, we went straight to the park’s reception for check in. There’s a mini golf course by the lake and you can’t help but feel the child-friendly vibe immediately.
After checking in, we were asked to wait for our guide which will take us to our designated site. Once we got there, the first thing I noticed was that their camp sites were massive. I mean, if I knew they were that big I would have towed our house with us. Jokes aside, I’m not exaggerating, I honestly think our house could fit in there.
See those trees behind our tent, right across the road? There are two things worth noting:
- There’s a river stream in there and that’s probably the best place to take shelter if the 30C starts to feel a little too much. I was born and raised in the tropics, but I can tell you that Australia’s sun is a different beast.
- There’s a trail that leads straight to the famed Murray to Mountains Rail Trail. That’s a 16km easy scenic bike trail. Although I reckon it looks best in autumn.
They have a kitchen equipped with a fridge, electric BBQs and a microwave. These are not ‘must-haves’ for us but they’re always good to have.
What we consider as ‘must-haves’ are toilets and showers, and they have those — 10/10 for me. There are also portable toilets in the middle of the unpowered sites area, perfect for quick number 1s. And they’re not like the ones you see in rock concerts and other outdoor festivals. Those portable toilets are like airplane-toilet-clean, or close enough (did we really go camping?).
It’s not called Lake Sambell Caravan Park for nothing, the heart of the park is THE Lake Sambell itself. I wish I was big on words and adjectives but hey, we’ve got cameras these days so here are a few stills. 🙂
Nearby Attractions and Activities
There are a lot of interesting places to see in Beechworth but unfortunately, we did not have the time nor the energy for all of them. I can tell you that 3 days and 2 nights will never be enough for what Beechworth has to offer.
For what it’s worth, here’s a tiny bit of our itinerary/to-do list that we managed to accommodate given the time and weather conditions (it was a sweltering 30C daily average).
Located at about 16km from Lake Sambell, the Woolshed Falls should be at the top of your list if you are into nature trips. You can pedal your way from Lake Sambell to Woolshed Falls, 16km (approx. 32km in total) will burn all the campfire beer and BBQs you’ll probably have every single night (everyone’s favourite part in camping).
Gorge Road Circuit
Located at around 6km from Lake Sambell, this site can be a decent morning hike if you want to. We chose the easy path though and took a drive through the circuit, a scenic route with dense forests and an overlooking view of the gorge. We would have loved to go down to take a dip at the rockpools but the little one is in the middle of her nap — spent all her energy at Woolshed Falls, it was a 28C day after all.
Murray To Mountains Rail Trail
Now this is probably one of my most awaited part of the to-do list, I did not bring my bikes 250km away for nothing. I didn’t really plan on taking this trail, I just knew that there are good bike trails around Beechworth, reason why I brought our bikes. A few hours after setting up camp, I waited for the heat to drop down a notch, then it was time to check the place out.
I had no GPS nor a plan, just some good old bike and instincts combo. Luckily, this trail is just right next to our camp site, as I mentioned earlier. I did not have the time to cover the whole trail though, didn’t want to be late for dinner. So I thought I’d save it up for the next day with the missus.
Here are a few stills.
Once again, we did not finish the trail because… we didn’t want to be late for dinner. By now you should have some idea of our priorities in life. 😀
The Beechworth Town
On our last day, we decided to pack up first thing in the morning so we can check out by 10am. Afterwards, we headed straight to the town which is really a 5 or 3-minute drive from Lake Sambell. It’s an old town with lots of historic old buildings. In fact, it felt like I’m in one of those Clint Eastwood movies.
Here are some of Beechworth’s icons you may want to visit:
I did a decent amount of research leading up to this trip and actually made an itinerary. I learned one thing though, the only schedule that gets strictly followed in a camping itinerary/to-do list are the meals — not that I’m complaining. 😀
Anyway, there’s definitely a lot more to this place than I can cover. I think the key takeaway here is that, the Lake Sambell Caravan Park is a great family-friendly camping/caravan park with heaps of nearby historic sites and attractions to explore. One of the best camping experiences, if not the best, I’ve had so far.
Furthermore, this place has surely raised my bar up so once again, my fear at this point is, will my next camping trip be better than this? Can’t wait to find out.
See you on the next adventure!
You know it’s a good trip when your kid wouldn’t want to go home.