Explore & Inspire, Outdoor Education, Travel Tips & Ideas

Camping at Cooks Mill – Cathedral Ranges State Park


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Satin Bower Bird home

I’ve been camping here for over 30 years and not much has changed. Parks Vic (or whatever their name is these days) do a great job of servicing the park by doing tree checks, grading the roads, vegetation management, tree hazard checks, managing the toilets and facilities. The rest is up to you. If you want to camp somewhere that has everything done for you, this is not the place. Rangers have more important things to do than change the toilet paper rolls so be prepared for a beautiful simple camping experience.

There are a number of campsites in the Cooks Mills area much of which is shady amongst tall beautiful Peppermint, Blackwood and Red Stringybark gums with the sound of the Little River bubbling in the background.

The splendid, high-peaked ridge of the Cathedral Range offers spectacular walks and rock climbing routes to suit all levels of fitness and ability. The Cathedral Range is recovering from the extensive damage caused by the 2009 Black Saturday fires when 92% of the park was burnt. There is a pleasant old sawmill clearing (partially vegetated) sheltered in a forested valley near the bubbling Little River. This 3577 hectare park offers you a range of activities from relaxed camping by a clear mountain stream to an exciting climb to its high exposed peaks.Camping feeCaravan accessNo dogs/petsNo rubbish disposalPicnic areaRangerSpecial campsite

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Black Spur

Access
The camping area is located off the Little River Road just before it crosses the river. Access with a 2wd is fine, albeit a little bumpy on the road in. From Melbourne head east through Healesville and through the mountainous Black Spur. Once you have left the Maroondah Highway and have driven north of Buxton, you will see the signposted turn off to the Ranges. Upon making another right turn into Little River Road you will need to drive on a dirt road to reach the camp areas.

Bookings
Advance bookings and payment are required. Individual sites cannot be reserved; please select your campsite(s) within the campground on arrival. For bookings go here or call Parks Victoria 13 1963. One campsite costs $27.50 as at the time of posting. When you book one site, please note that it is unpowered and the site accommodates a maximum of six guests. Individual sites are not reserved; please select your campsite(s) within the campground on arrival.  30 days prior 50% cancellation fee. Less than 30 days prior 100% cancellation fee. No Transfers.

Walking trails nearby

Toilets

Pit toilets are available in a few different places in the campground. Don’t rely on there being toilet paper so please bring your own. Don’t toss your rubbish into the toilets.

Facilities

There are picnic tables a shelter that are available for use by campers. The Friends Nature Trail (proudly can say I was part of the initial group that put this together) is an easy route through manna gum forest and takes about an hour to do the loop walk. The St Bernards Track to Jawbone carpark is a little more strenuous (can say that a group of students made this track back in the 90’s on one of our programs).

Fireplaces

Note that the fireplaces do not include a cooking plate so you’ll need to bring your own. Plus, you’ll need to bring your own firewood as it’s prohibited to take wood from the park but wood can be purchased from the nearby towns of Taggerty and Buxton. Use a portable gas stove or similar for cooking.

  • Light fires only in the fireplaces provided or use a portable camping stove instead
  • Ensure fires are never left unattended and are completely out before you leave
  • During summer and autumn Total Fire Bans are common – this means no open fires can be lit
  • For information on Total Fire Bans call the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667

    Little River

Water

Recommend you bring your own water in although you can take water directly from The Little River. I would recommend treating it if this is the case. One of the local rangers, Rhyll recommends bringing in your own water as there is still ash from the bushfires washing into the waterways. Plus the never-ending logging trucks that are well placed upstream probably have some diesel run-off. In other words – treat or filter your water if taking from The Little River.

Rubbish

Carry in, carry out. There is no rubbish collection within the park and there are no rubbish bins so you’ll need to take it home

Campsites

There are 30 campsites available. Some are suitable for camper trailers, campervans, a small caravan or recreational vehicle as well as tents. During peak season, this campsite gets a lot of visitors. Be mindful of how far you spread yourselves out over your campsite. Do not camp under tree limbs. Note: bring your own wood, as firewood cannot be collected anywhere in the park. Also note that the fireplace here doesn’t have a cooking plate.

Pets

Not allowed

Wildlife

I could say prolific but that’s only when I need a goods night sleep. During the day you’ll hear if not see lyrebirds. They’ll often imitate chainsaws from the loggers. kookaburras, cockatoos, galahs and even the protected peregrine falcon. At night, the wombats come out along with the possums. Beware that the possums will rummage through your food tubs unless you seal them up properly. Kangaroos and wallabies tend to come out at dusk and dawn but you will often surprise them on walking trails. The every so interesting Satin Bower Bird have nests here and well worth hunting them out. Please do not disturb them. Take photos only.

Phone Network

Dodgy at the best of times. It’s intermittent and can drop out quickly.

Extra info

No known swimming spots here. No fishing allowed. No horseriding. No canoeing or kayaking.

Vehicle-based campingWood fireplaceNow it’s your turn. What are your experiences like of camping at Cooks Mill? Share and leave a comment below.

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