Someone once said, ‘The best memories are made camping’…ok so maybe it’s just a sticker you can buy on Etsy, but true none the less.
As a kid I knew no different, spending plenty of school holidays at camp sites or touring around with a camper in tow. It’s no wonder my favourite children’s book is Alison Lester’s, ‘Are We There Yet?’ I won’t even begin to tell the tales of my childhood travelling experiences (I’ll save it for a book one day) but needless to say I couldn’t wait to
subject my children to create amazing camping memories with my own children.
Recently we invested in a camper trailer, a Jayco Flamingo – yet to be named. With much excitement this Cup Weekend, we took her for her maiden voyage to a friends’ property near Mansfield in Victoria’s Alpine Country. Mansfield is about 2.5hrs north east of Melbourne and approx. 3hrs from the Mornington Peninsula towing a van (not counting the *265 toilet + snack stops) and fairly easy drive. During winter Mansfield is the gateway to some of Australia’s best ski resorts but equally exciting is the range of activities on offer when the snow has melted down the mountains.
*Slight exaggeration caused by parental despair.
Exploring the trails of the High Country – Craig’s Hut – Mountain Biking – Mirimbah
Waking to a glorious view over the pines towards Lake Eildon, we were fresh off our first night in the van and ready to take on the day. We loaded the cars with the mountain bikes and made the 40 minute drive from Howqua to Mirimbah at the base of Mount Buller and Mount Stirling.
Turning left, over the Delatite River, the road to Mount Stirling becomes a dirt road we travelled the dusty track 20 minutes to Telephone Box Junction and took the Circuit Road a further 45 minutes to reach Craig’s Hut for lunch. The last part of the track to our stunning lunch destination was a 4×4 track, otherwise take the 1.7km walk from the Circuit Rd Picnic Area up to the iconic hut, built as a set for The Man From Snowy River film.
We had the pleasure of meeting some friendly horses and their riders, many of whom were on trail riding tours of Mount Stirling the surrounding areas – a real ‘Man From Snowy River’ experience! Check the links below for some of the tours in the area.
Members of our crew, instead, took on the down hill mountain bike trails that take in the magnificent scenery the Alpine Country has to offer. With a range of ages and abilities they decided on the decent from Mount Stirling back down to Mirimbah, where the rest of us enjoyed the park and playground facilities on the edge of the Delatite River. The mountain bike trail they took on is part of the Epic Trail, a 50km long trail starting at the Mount Buller Resort. a long distance, cross-country descending ride, providing stunning views across the Victorian High Country. This area is renown for it’s challenging and varied trails and enjoyed by mountain bikers in the warmer months. Checkout the Bike Buller site for detailed maps and info.
Mirimbah Park was the perfect place to finish the ride and the kids had great fun in the leafy surrounds and open grassed areas, the playground and the cool waters of the Delatite River.
When you’re visiting a place known for it’s close proximity to the snow, you don’t expect to be in the company of a family of lions, some tigers and a couple of camels. But just 10 short minutes out of Mansfield, you can find yourself at the Mansfield Zoo. Home to many native and exotic animals, it’s set on acreage looking across to Mount Buller in the distance. Although there are lots of different areas of the zoo to explore, it’s the perfect size for little legs to get around. Our kids were in their element, feeding the free roaming deer and kangaroos as well as visiting the emus, meerkats and crocodile. Finishing with an ice-cream on the verandah of the homestead, our family gave the Mansfield Zoo a solid thumbs up!
Eating + drinking
We mostly stuck to a traditional campsite diet of barbecued meat + salads and bacon + eggs for lunch, but I have scouted some suggestions from the friendly residents to let you in on the local faves.
I must admit, we do love the Mansfield Bakery…especially the pies, jam filled donuts and the vanilla slice. Yum!!!
Late night arrival to Mansfield? Never fear, grab a pizza from Mansfield Pizza.
If you and the crew are hungry after a big skiing and boarding session on Lake Eildon, pull up the boat at Aqua Bar + Cafe to refuel and take in the view from a different angle.
But if you’re keen for a day trip to enjoy some civilised dining + wine tasting, head north east of Mansfield to the King Valley, home to Dal Zotto Wines, Gracebrook Vineyards, Pizzini Wines and of course King Valley Wines!
Where to stay?
While we were lucky enough to park our camper on our friends’ property with prime position of the view towards Lake Eildon, there are plenty of places to pitch a tent or lay your head after your own Alpine Country adventures.
- The Mansfield Zoo – Roll out a swag or pitch a tent at the zoo.
- Mansfield Caravan Park – If you prefer to be close to what’s happing in town.
- Mansfield Lakeside Ski Village – For those who like to holiday with a boat and enjoy all the fun of water skiing and wake boarding.
- Willowlake Cottages – a more secluded location near the lake with it’s own onsite restaurant.
Whether you decide to walk the Great Victorian Rail Trail, swim in the river at Jamieson, explore the mountain biking trails or just enjoy the serenity, Mansfield and the Alpine region caters for a variety of visitors.
With our camper’s maiden voyage declared a success by all, we look forward to taking her on many more adventures around Australia.
>> Send me a message with your favourite place to camp or your suggestion for a name for our Flamingo!