For campers ready to take the great outdoors to the next level, an overnight stay on the side of a sheer 300 metre cliff face in Mount Buffalo National Park has been launched and it's just a four-hour drive from Melbourne.
In Australia's first and the world's highest cliff camping experience, guests abseil down to the portaledge on the north wall of Mount Buffalo Gorge for a three-course meal and overnight stay before waking to a spectacular sunrise, coffee and breakfast the next morning and an optional multi-pitch abseil to the valley floor.
Unleashed Unlimited's Andrew Dawson, who founded the company with his brother, Howie, says that as young rock climbers in Australia they'd see images of people sleeping on portaledges on giant walls in places such as Yosemite and always wanted to know what it would be like.
When the pair started camping out on the cliff they found that the concept received a lot of attention from their non-climbing friends.
A three-course dinner and breakfast are served to portaledge campers.
"The reaction was usually polarised from something like either, 'No way in hell I'd ever do that!', or, 'I'd absolutely love to give it a go!" Dawson says
He says Mount Buffalo is an ideal location for cliff camping due to the site's relative ease of access in an experience that is designed to cater both to novices and experienced climbers.
"We get a mix of guests, some with climbing experience and some without and we train people up on all the roping skills they will need and make sure they're totally comfortable with everything before they go down to the portaledge."
He says guests are typically either a pair of good friends or siblings - there has also been a couple on a first date and a wedding proposal (she said yes).
Dawson says the experience is special as it combines a mix of adrenaline with peaceful time for reflection and contemplation.
"Excuse the pun but cliff camping combines these [qualities] in a way that allows guests to enjoy a heightened awareness of themselves and their surroundings."
Guest enjoy spectacular, unhindered views.
Guides are at the portaledge to help guests settle in and are contactable at the top of the cliff the entire time if assistance is needed. And, in case you're wondering, there are toilets at the top of the cliff and devices on the portaledge for guests to respond to the call of nature. .
The Beyond the Edge cliff camping experience runs from November to May and costs from $799 a person based on a two-person booking.
It includes instruction and supervision from two expert guides; a comprehensive training session, including multiple abseils and cliff ascents; dinner and breakfast and all safety equipment.
Phone (03) 9079 4600. See unleashed-unlimited.com.au