We had a fabulous time camping for a week at the Porepunkah Bridge Holiday Park over the new year period. Here is our review of the park and the facilities.
We love the area around Bright and the High Country and have always wanted to spend more time camping up there. It’s one of those places that is always nice to have a few extra days rather than a long weekend but we don’t normally go away between Christmas and New Year – it just seems too busy. This was a perfect opportunity – we decided we definitely needed to make the most of Ross’s forced annual leave over this time – if the crowds were terrible then we would just need to deal with it!
As soon as you type into a search engine Bright accommodation or Bright Caravan Park there are so many options to choose between. We extended our search to include Porepunkah camping sites – just to try and get away from some of the crowds in Bright. We choose the Porepunkah Bridge Holiday Park as from the reviews I had read it had the best river access directly from the park.
Porepunkah is 6km from Bright and only takes a few minutes to drive into town. There is also a well used shared path – it’s a dream location for bike riders and also really safe for kids being off the road.
Bright itself was really, really busy so I think it was nice being in Porepunkah.
If you are looking for Mount Buffalo accommodation or camping options then please check out our post about camping up at Lake Catani – we think it’s one of the best camping spots Victoria wide!
To be honest we haven’t actually camped in too many ‘holiday/caravan parks’ – we do prefer a bush setting with no neighbours! But these days, with kids, I can definitely see the attraction of having lots of facilities.
Porepunkah Bridge Holiday Park has lots of sites directly along the river and these are the prime sites that book up from year to year. It would have been awesome – there was green grass, big shady trees and you were right next to the river – this is also part of the general caravan park area.
We booked into the ‘bush camping’ area as we prefer more of a bush setting. This is also known as the ‘Christmas over-flow area’.
There are over 190 sites within the caravan park plus the bush camping/overflow camping area at the bottom of the park. There are powered and unpowered sites for both tents and vans (although you don’t see too many tent campers like us anymore) and also a range of cabins for rent.
The sites in the overflow area are unpowered and it felt a lot quieter in this area compared to the main area (which is exactly why we booked this area!). We had a 7 night booking which was required, but there was lots of people who only stayed a few nights. The sites are amongst trees of varying height (there were a few sites in the middle which didn’t have trees for shade and they would have been very hot). Our group of 4 families had a nice little area with some shade. We were worried whether we would have a designated site or if it would be a ‘free for all’ in this area but we had a large area allocated for our group and could set up with plenty space around us.
Once we had set up we recognised the campers next to us. They live on the street behind us and our boys are both starting prep at the same school this year – such a small world!
There are also various types of cabins available to rent if camping is not your thing!
Floating down the river
This is definitely the season for different inflatable devices – there were lots to be seen on the river from unicorns (so many unicorns), monsters, and standard round tubes (heading into the river in Bright there were many more – pizza shapes, more unicorns, biscuits, other animals, etc). The Ovens River which runs aside the Holiday Park is quite shallow all the way along and although there were a few small rapids we felt safe floating down with the kids (our kids are too little to do this on their own though). The rocks were very slippery and I would recommend some sort of river shoes to make it easier to walk. We had quite a lot of rain a couple of nights in a row and the river after this was much stronger and we didn’t feel safe to go with the kids until it had calmed a little.
There is no defined path as such to take you down to the river to start your float – just pick a spot that seems easy (we were slipping down an embankment) and jump on and start floating. We had friends down river ready to catch any kids floating by, but really, it was pretty safe. The kids had a ball so we did this many times! Luckily, it was fun for the adults also. If you are sitting on a ring though just be aware that you’ll probably hit your bum a few times on rocks (unless the river is higher)!
I didn’t find the river area particularly suitable for just playing in – it was for floating only really. Quite a few people took chairs down to the side but there wasn’t really anywhere for the kids to be in the water playing (well they could, it was just rocky and slippery).
We had friends that kayaked part of the way down the river (an hour or so) and jumped out at our campsite. The boys in our group floated down from Bright and this took nearly 3 hours. They said it wasn’t suitable to do this with our kids at their young age as some of the rapids were quite strong and there were sections where you could have become stuck on trees etc.
If you enjoy kayaking you can go up to Lake Catani, Mt Buffalo. We have done this on a previous trip – it’s one of our most favourite places with terrific camping and great walks with the kids.
I had read that it was a fair hike to get up to the toilet block from this camping area and that is the truth! It’s quicker it you have your bike (mine didn’t fit on the with the kids bikes plus Ross’s mountain bike – we will be buying a bike carrier sometime in the future). There are only 2 toilet blocks for the whole park. Our closest one was in the middle of the park near the playground and there was another block towards the top end of the park.
There were only 4 ladies toilets in each toilet block – I would say that it is not nearly enough for the whole of the park but there didn’t really seem to be queues. The showers were in the same block. Apparently, the toilets in the men’s were really tiny and the comment was made that if you were a ‘larger’ guy you wouldn’t have been able to fit – the guys in our group had to straddle the toilet somehow to open/close the door (I’m not going to picture this!). The toilet blocks were cleaned twice a day which was great, but because they were just in a concrete ‘box’, they got really hot and quite smelly as there was no air flow.
The showers were great – lots of hot water and fantastic water pressure!
It would have been great to have a toilet block for the campers in the overflow. There is already water plumbed down there and they could be locked when that area is not in use – I think they would get enough use out of this in peak times.
At the top end of the park was also a large camp kitchen – we didn’t use this as it was too far away but it seemed really well set up with hot plates and fridges.
There were also two laundries and clothes lines (coins needed for the machines). I haven’t used many washing machines in caravan parks before but the one we used this trip didn’t do an amazing job cleaning – I assume the machines are well used.
Within Porepunkah Bridge Holiday Park was a little playground which our kids liked but it was quite small – good for short periods of time.
There was also a swimming pool which was a big selling point when choosing this park. The pool was great as you couldn’t jump in and ‘swim’ in the river, so the kids loved to be able to actually swim. It didn’t have any extra activities such as slides/tipping buckets etc.
There are not too many dog friendly camping sites in Victoria and Porepunkah Bridge Holiday Park is a pet friendly caravan park. I was a little worried about dogs with the kids but all the dogs we saw were kept under control.
There was a little shop at the reception with basic supplies and ice.
Now, I do have to tell you about some of the produce vans that drove around the park. There was a coffee van which we saw drive around the camp ground once – but each morning they were located at the office (we are not coffee drinkers so I didn’t take much notice!!) for those that needed a proper coffee.
Most days we saw the local bakery van drive around selling fresh bread, rolls and sweet treats and we also saw the local butcher and berry farm van’s drive through.
There was no information around for campers to let them know that this happens. I think it is a great little service for campers and there should have been notices around (on the toilet walls for example!) to let people know who comes around and at approximately what time. The only notice I saw was for a kids ‘playgroup’ at 9.30am each morning but included bible studies so definitely wasn’t for us. A printed note to hand to campers when they arrive would be a great idea which lists all these extra’s.
One evening there was also a texas bbq and live music. There was a sign for this at the kitchen which one of our group happened to see during the day and the owners then came around at 6pm to tell us – most (if not all!) campers with kids have already thought about/or eaten dinner by this stage!
The owners and staff were friendly (except for when we drove out of the park when the gate was open without putting in our code and then couldn’t get back in ha ha ha!) but I think there could be a few little tweaks to make this park even better.
One of the great things about this park was that you could hire fire drums. At so many caravan/holiday parks you are not allowed fires – for us this really makes the camping experience.
They also have a bike hiring service which would have been great if you wanted to ride into Bright.
Overall, did we enjoy our stay? We sure did and I’m warming more and more to stays in caravan parks as it is a really safe environment for the kids and quite relaxing for parents! As the kids get older I think caravan parks will get better and better for us.
Porepunkah Bridge Holiday Park
36 Mt Buffalo Road Porepunkah VIC 3740
Telephone +613 5756 2380
We love the high country as there are just so many things to do as a family. We had a really nice mixture of relaxing around the camp ground and getting out and exploring.
I am putting together a post of the things we enjoyed in and around Bright and I’ll let you know when that’s ready to read.
Have you been camping at Bright before? What about Porepunkah? Do you have a preference for either location?
See you next time, (camp) neighbour !
Ha ha! Yes, looking forward to it!