5 pet-friendly travel destinations to take your pooch in Australia

Jul 20, 2020
Take your dog with you on your next getaway to one of these pet-friendly destinations around Australia. Source: Getty

Travel is a top priority for Aussies at the moment as borders within the country start to reopen following months in lockdown. But, for many pet owners, there’s a tinge of guilt knowing they will have to leave their pets at home as they go exploring around the country.

After spending weeks on end together in self-isolation, it’s the last thing you probably want, especially when they give you those puppy dog eyes as you walk out the door. However, thankfully you won’t have to deal with any heartbreak, because there’s a whole heap of towns and regions which welcome furry friends with open arms.

Right across Australia, you’ll find pet-friendly accommodation, cafes, beaches, parks and more to enjoy together. From the south of the country with rolling green hills and famous wineries to the north where you can soak up the sunshine by the ocean, there’s plenty to choose from.

Gold Coast 

Queensland opened its borders to visitors, bar Victoria, earlier this month, so now’s the perfect time for a getaway — and to thaw out a bit in this chilly winter. The Gold Coast is one of the most popular places to visit in the Sunshine State and for all the pet owners out there who don’t want to leave their four-legged friends behind, it’s good news because there’s plenty of pet-friendly places to visit in the region.

While a lot of beaches around the country require a dog to be on a leash, the Gold Coast has two dedicated ‘dog beaches’ where your pooch can run free.

The Spit and Palm Beach both feature off-leash areas for dogs to stretch their legs and play — and they are both lovely beaches to visit to catch the sunny rays. After a stroll — or run — along the beach, you can head to one of the many pet-friendly cafes close by, such as Cafe Catalina, Espresso Moto and Barefoot Barista. And, at some of the cafes, you can even grab your dog a special pet-friendly treat!

As for somewhere to stay on the Gold Coast, well you’ll be spoilt for choice, with many accommodation options. Some may charge an extra fee for having your dog stay — but your pooch is still very much welcome. Whether you want to stay by the beach or venture towards the rainforest, you’re sure to find the perfect place to stay.

Fleurieu Peninsula

The Fleurieu Peninsula is a little chilly this time of the year, but if you’re prepared to rug up with a few layers, it’s a great region to holiday with your dog. The area in South Australia’s south is best known for its beaches, and while you might not want to brave the cold waters, a walk along the beach is always nice.

The golden stretch of sand from Goolwa to Middleton beach is an off-leash area for dogs, so your four-legged friend can run around as they please. And, during winter you might even spot a whale out in the ocean! Fishery Beach in Cape Jervis is another great place to let the pooch of the leash, and on clear days you can see Kangaroo Island in the distance. It’s a bit quieter than other beaches as well, so nice for a peaceful stroll.

Meanwhile, for those wanting a more active getaway, there’s a heap of walks to do around the region and as long as your dog is on the leash, they can come along too. There’s the Encounter Bikeway which stretches 30km in total — so wear the good walking shoes! Or for something shorter, try the Wetlands Loop Trail which is 4.5km and takes you through the Onkaparinga River National Park.

And, there’s a huge selection of dog-friendly accommodation in the region, so don’t stress about finding somewhere to rest your head after a busy day exploring the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Byron Bay 

Byron Bay is no doubt one of the favourite destinations to visit for both Aussie tourists and overseas visitors, with thousands of people flocking there each year. It’s known for having somewhat of a hippy, laid back feel to it and the town is also very welcoming to visitors of the four-legged kind.

But, perhaps the most desired thing about Byron Bay is the beaches, white the sparkling waters enticing travellers in. And thankfully, local beaches such as Tallows Beach, Belongil Beach, and South Golden Beach all have areas where dogs can be off the leash and free to run around. So, you can enjoy the sun and sand together. Meanwhile, there’s a selection of parks around the town such as Suffolk Park which allow dogs off-leash in some areas.

For something a bit different you can also visit The Farm Byron Bay. It’s a real working farm and a great place to go with the grandkids and your dog! You can stroll around the property, meet the animals and grab a bite to eat at the bakery or cafe, and roll out a picnic rug to soak up the sunshine. Your dog will have to be on a leash, and they aren’t allowed inside the cafe, but at least you’ll still have them with you.

Then after a busy day of adventuring, you can rest at the Byron Bay Rainforest Resort in one of the special pet-friendly cottages. There are a number of walking tracks you can venture through if you like, and your dog can come along with you too.

Hunter Valley

The Hunter Valley is beautiful any time of the year with world-famous wineries dotted throughout, acclaimed restaurants and tonnes of fresh local produce to enjoy. Not to mention the scenery, with rolling green hills painting the perfect picture. Plus – it’s just two hours’ drive from Sydney, so perfect for a day trip or a short getaway.

And, if you don’t want to leave your dog at home, you can still enjoy all of this with them by your side. In the Hunter Valley you’ll find a selection of cellar doors which allow your four-legged friends to visit, and some even offer special “pooch platters”, so while you’re sipping on delicious wine and eating a selection of tasty cheese, your dog can enjoy some treats of its own.

Briar Ridge Vineyard, Stomp! Wine, Margan Winery, Oakvale Wines and Iron Gate Estate are just some of the many wineries which will say yes to you bringing your dog along for the day. Many of these wineries also have dining options, but if you want to try out another cafe, head to either The Deck Cafe Lovedale or Bistro Molines.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking to explore the region for a few days (or more) there’s a heap of accommodation options around the region that are pet-friendly from cute cottages to larger guesthouses.

Sunshine Coast 

Looking for a beach holiday? The Sunshine Coast is ideal for those seeking a warm-weather getaway, with daytime temperatures still sitting comfortably in the 20s, despite much of the country going through a chilly few months. And for pet owners, it’s perfect because there are 39 different off-leash areas around the region including parks and beaches, such as Noosa Spit and North Shore Beach in Twin Waters.

There are a few which only allow dogs to be off-leash during certain times, so make sure to check any signs around the area, but the majority are always free for dogs to run around at their leisure. Meanwhile, if you’re up for a bit of competition, the Noosa Festival of Surfing takes place in March each year and features a special surfing dog spectacular, as well as a workshop for board riders and dogs.

You’ll also be spoilt for choice when it comes to dog-friendly cafes, with plenty of dining options available throughout the region. Some, including Murray’s Cafe in Maroochydore, even have dog treats available and special “puppyccinos” for your furry friend. And when you’re ready for a rest, you can take your pick from the selection of pet-friendly accommodation, close to the beach or up into the hinterland areas such as Maleny.

Meanwhile, if you’re not planning on heading off on a holiday any time soon, that’s no reason not to pamper your pooch. Starts at 60 has a special deal going with the Lucky Pet Shop where you can get $15 off any purchase over $150 during the month of July! To receive this discount, use the code: 15OFF150CF. Click here to purchase some special treats for your four-legged friend!

Sue's sassy!

She became a member of Starts at 60 and got access to amazing travel deals, free masterclasses, exclusive news and features and hot member discounts!

And she entered to win a $10K trip for four people to Norfolk Island in 2021. Join now, it’s free to become a member. Members get more.

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Do you take your dog with you on holidays? Where is your favourite place to visit?

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