Baayna Biami is centred in the Northern Brisbane Ranges of Western Central Victoria (it’s actually just over an hour North West of Melbourne). I really loved the drive out to this camp. I passed by the former CFA training grounds of Fiskville, pausing to look at the historic old-world charm buildings that fronts the Geelong-Ballan Road. I then passed by the Yaloak Polo Club. Harris Tweeds are mandatory for gaining entry into the Polo Club and if I hadn’t left mine hanging on the back of the office chair I would of stopped in for a Pimms! This drive is worth it as it is a secret part of Victoria that has just seems to fly under the radar.
On arriving at Baanya Biami, I descend down the steep winding driveway and it immediately occurs to me why such an idealistic spot was chosen for the camp. Meeting up with the owner Jeffrey Brook, himself a stalwart to the outdoor educational sector. Jeffrey also runs Avalon College in Geelong, a private residential college for overseas students undertaking intensive English language courses prior to entrance into Australian Secondary and Primary Schools.
The camp is a 104 bed facility set on 150 acres of bushland, and without doubt blends its self very smartly into the surrounding landscape. The history of the camp is fascinating (as if I wouldn’t find history of camps interesting!). Established as an Environmental Camp in the early 80’s, set in a forested landscape down in a steep valley facing onto a large cliff.
Considering the type of camp it was trying to be (energy-conservative environmentally friendly) it’s use of concrete water tanks as bunk rooms is slightly left field, but they work really well, especially the thermal properties they offer. Tree-trunks have been widely used as bunk supports and they catch my eye as a most appealing feature. Additional accommodation has been built since the tank rooms, the new buildings sit neatly above the tanks. Undercover areas abound, so keeping out of the weather would be easy. The dining room set down in the valley is a log cabin style, almost ranch like.
Loads of activities are spread throughout the camp such as flying fox, giant slide (which I was super keen to give a try), abseiling, rock climbing (all on natural cliffs), low ropes course, initiative activities, orienteering, bushwalking, archery and volleyball. The camp-fire area was special, sitting around in the amphitheatre of the cliffs towering above would be special. The feeling of complete isolation no light pollution, no noise – just perfect. I’d consider the possibility of coming back here with a group myself.
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