Wills Bend Quick Fact Box*
Free Camping Echuca
(20 Minute Drive from town)
Sandbar Beach for swimming (unpatrolled)
Accessible by gravel/dirt corrugated road. Generally 2WD accessible unless wet/changed conditions
BYO drinking water, toilet paper, own cooking etc*^
Before visiting always check up to date regional fire, safety & road access conditions with government websites: Parks Victoria Wills Bend Page
*Source – as per campground visit & signage May 2023
^Wikicamps is a great source for up to date campground changes from travellers who have recently visited.
If you are looking for free camping near Echuca that is dog friendly then Wills Bend is a great choice. Wills Bend Echuca campground is actually two free, dog friendly campgrounds on the Murray River/Dhungala, 20 minutes drive North West of Echuca, Victoria.
Both campgrounds, sandbar 1 & sandbar 2 are a good option for a weekend away bush camping with dogs in Victoria, offering easy dirt road access, lots of space to camp in open woodland and near river frontage.
The Wills Bend camping facilities are just a basic drop toilet and is best suited for people who can live without a shower and can bring their own drinking water and cooking gear.
These campsites get very busy during long weekends, holidays and warmer months. In winter they can be much quieter – I have stayed at the campgrounds in winter and the closest other campers were several hundred metres away.
Like many reserves close to town, we found people were driving around the park in the earlier parts of the night.
It is also not National Park so there are more people around and houses and properties across the river in some spots.
Unfortunately, this also means like most regional and state parks sometimes campers do not respect the campground but it was fine when I visited.
Choosing a campsite
There are two campgrounds, sandbar 1 and sandbar 2 with a boat ramp in between. Both campsites have a drop toilet and have similar vegetation. I was able to find a campsite with trees I felt safe pitching a tent near.
Realistically while a designated campground, people still camp in a dispersed manner as they do along other parts of the River Murray Reserve.
You can also continue north west along the Murray River to more campsites in the River Murray Reserve. To continue along the river you head towards Sandbar 2 then turn off at the sign to Emu Bend. There is a campsite a short drive along called ‘Carpenters’ and this is a good choice if you would prefer to camp with views of the river from your campsite but no river beach.
Sandbar 1 Campground
Sandbar 1 is closest to the entrance road, it is whats referred to as ‘Wills Sandbar’ but google has pinned the boat ramp instead for some reason. . It has the more gently sloped of the two beaches (although I haven’t got to check it post floods as I stayed in the other campground).
It is also slightly closer to the boat ramp and the boat ramp noise but not by much.
The campsite was quite dusty at the end of summer which is to be expected at that time of the year.
The boat ramp is located along the river between Sandbar 1 and Sandbar 2. Some people were camped around the boat ramp area when I stayed a few years ago. This may be good for those looking for campgrounds with a boat launch to go fishing or wake boarding easily and regularly (or the proper campgrounds are a short drive away, much flatter and closer to the toilets). As people launch their boats very early in the morning I would avoid camping near here if you don’t need the boat ramp.
Sandbar 2 Campground
Sandbar 2 is further from the entrance. This is approximately marked as Wills Beach Echuca on google maps. There is signage to both sandbars when you get into the reserve.
It is also slightly further from the boat ramp.
While this campsite was quieter than number 1 when I visited, I suspect it was luck and the fact that it was a few months further into winter than when I stayed at sandbar 1. Be aware boats may still wake you up as this is a busy part of the Murray.
Things to see and do
Enjoy the river. The campsite is located on the banks of the Murray River (very close but not with views). There is a beautiful sandbar which has easy access for swimming (be aware of currents etc and how to stay safe) and launching kayaks.
It’s a really nice place to just hang out on the river for a picnic or to read a book and a relaxing spot for watching the sunrise and enjoying sunset beers.
Dogs who like water will LOVE this spot as they have gradual easy access into the river from the sandbar.
While the river is always beautiful, this is not a national park so like most local, regional and state parks it has a lot of tracks and the ecosystems and river banks are more degraded. There is also infrastructure and houses across the river so it’s not all a ‘bush’ experience.
Other very popular activities in the area include fishing and wakeboarding but be mindful of environmental impacts and fishing seasons when enjoying these activities. Remember when fishing in the Murray River you actually require a NSW fishing licence, but you will need a Victorian one for everywhere else in Victoria.
Getting there & road access
The Campgrounds are located at the end of gravel roads that can get pretty corrugated. But hey that’s part of the fun 😉
While uploading my video to You Tube I found this other video on Wills Bend that goes very in-depth into the campgrounds so if you love to know exactly what a place looks like before visiting (although keep in mind its been flooded since this was filmed) this video could be a great option for you.