Australia is a nation of pet lovers, with almost two-thirds of households currently owning a pet and around 90% of the population having had a pet at some point in time (according to Animal Medicines Australia). So when it comes to enjoying a day out in the city or an adventure in nature, it shouldn’t mean you have to leave your best friend behind. In fact, most pet parents love nothing more than a doggie day out!
Luckily, this country offers plenty of dog-friendly activities, whether you are looking for a weekly adventure or a special one-day event. Read on to discover some of Australia’s best locations for a doggie day out for you and your pup to enjoy.
Australian Capital Territory
Visiting the nation’s capital with a dog? Join the locals on the leisurely Bridge to Bridge Walk around Lake Burley Griffin or simply take a seat and do some people and pooch watching on its shores. Alternatively, you can visit the National Arboretum Canberra where you’ll find more than eight kilometres of dog-friendly walking trails, with trees a-plenty for them to sniff.
For a more social occasion, why not attend Floriade Dogs Day Out, a free outdoor event that marks the end of Canberra’s annual flower festival. Held in October at Commonwealth Park, it includes plenty of pup-themed activities, demos and lessons. Pooch Affair is another great event, which is held each June at Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC). This event has been going strong for five years, with all donations going to support the RSPCA ACT.
Feeling thirsty? Head to dog-friendly Pankhurst Wines in Wallaroo or Yarralumla Gallery & Oaks, which was voted as one of Australia’s Best Dog Cafes by Pawshake.
New South Wales
Sydney-dwelling pet owners are spoiled for choice, with so much to do in the city. How about taking in some iconic scenery along the Bondi to Coogee Walk, with dogs permitted on this stunning coastal trail provided they are on a leash. Centennial Park’s Moonlight Cinema in the Belvedere Amphitheatre welcomes dogs in all sections, as long as they are leashed. Or if you want to see Sydney from the water, you can hire a dog-friendly boat from Self Drive Boat Hire. Call 0447 645 321 for bookings.
Venturing out of town? There are several pet-friendly wineries and dog-friendly tours in the Hunter Valley that welcome four-legged friends. Try Peppertree Wines, Briar Ridge Vineyard or Stomp! Wines. The scenic Blue Mountains boasts a few official dog walking trails and off-leash areas that allow pet owners to bring their furry friends with them. Our favourites include the Lawson Waterfall Circuit, Minnehaha Falls Walk and Horseshoe Falls Reserve.
When it comes to dog-friendly events, be sure to attend Street Paws, which is held in various locations around Sydney and New South Wales. The event celebrates communities and their dogs, with giveaways, educational advice, adoptions and much more.
From the Barossa Valley to McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills, South Australia is famed for its wines. Fortunately, several wineries welcome pets during tastings or to stay overnight. In the Barossa, you can relax at The Old Telegraph Station, which offers pet-friendly accommodation, while the Alpha Box & Dice is a rustic, pet-friendly winery in McLaren Vale.
If music’s more your thing, then you’ll love Dogapalooza, the first-ever dog-friendly outdoor music festival. Held in Goodwood Orphanage Park since 2014, this annual event coincides with the last day of the Adelaide Fringe Festival and helps to raise funds for charities.
You can also take your pooch to one of Mount Gambier’s best attractions, the Blue Lake, with dogs permitted on its 3.6-kilometre-long walk. Keep in mind that they must remain on a leash at all times and don’t forget to pick up some doggy poo bags at the start of the trail!
Fancy a drink and dinner with a view? Then Bacchus Bar at Henley Beach is a great place to dine with your dog and comes complete with its very own “Pooch Park”. Complete with water bowls and toys, this beachfront heaven is well-equipped to keep our fur pals entertained while you dine.
In Brisbane, you and your pooch can enjoy an electric-powered water adventure with Go Boat Brisbane and see the city like never before. Or why not attend one of the fortnightly SUP dog sessions at Sandgate’s Surf Connect. For something less active, how about a movie at the Yatala Drive-In, which has an outdoor seating area for dogs.
After a dose of local history? Jump aboard the Mary Valley Rattler, which journeys from Gympie Station to Amamoor. This heritage steam train welcomes cats and dogs, providing they’re on a leash at all times. If a bushland walk is more your thing, follow the trail that leads from the JC Slaughter Falls picnic area to the summit of Mount Coot-tha to soak up the panoramic views of Brisbane with your pooch.
When it comes to festivities, you can’t go past Petals and Pups, which is held as part of the 30-day Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers. This action-packed program boasts more than 20 dog-friendly activities across 27 off-leash parks.
On the Gold Coast, there’s Australia’s biggest dog market, Paws at the Park, an award-winning event that is held each year. It features around 100 stalls, talks and demonstrations, meaning there is something for all dog lovers.
For those who live across the ditch or are planning a vacation on the Apple Isle, there are plenty of options when it comes to getting out and about with your dog. You can enjoy picture-perfect moments with your pet at Bridestowe Lavender Estate where you’ll find fresh air and never-ending fields of purple lavender. It’s a must-do activity in the summer months when the flowers are in bloom and is just 45 minutes drive from Launceston.
If you are in Hobart, you can hike to the summit of Mount Wellington along one of its dog-friendly trails or opt for the relatively flat Fern Tree to Neika Track. Other dog-friendly sightseeing options include the Tasman Peninsula’s magnificent Tessellated Pavement or the famous Port Arthur Historic site (dogs must be on a leash at both). Dogs are also welcome on the treetop platforms and cantilevered lookout of the Tahune AirWalk, which offers elevated views of the Huon River.
When it’s time to eat, both you and your dog can socialise in the spacious outdoor area of Room For a Pony or enjoy a walk along the Hobart Rivulet before refuelling with brunch at Hamlet.
From shopping to boating and everything in between, there’s no shortage of things to do with your furry friends in Victoria. Chapel Street Precinct in Prahran is unlike any other shopping centre in that many of its 300+ businesses welcome fur-friends. Look out for the “Paw-on-the-floor Sticker”!
At the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, you can join the team at Punting on the Lake for a 30-minute cruise with your favourite paw-pal, inspired by the waterway experiences of Oxford and Cambridge.
Puppy Pub Crawl holds various events across Melbourne throughout the year where you can meet like-minded pet owners and potential doggie playmates. It will see you strolling around the city, accompanied by dog cocktails, beers and pizzas. Sample a piece of France at Chez Misty, a dog creperie and café located in St Kilda or try stand-up paddleboarding with Sups for Pups based in Melbourne Bayside and the Mornington Peninsula.
If being chauffeured between some of Victoria’s great wine regions takes your fancy, book a dog-friendly tour with Gourmet Pawprints onboard “Bella” the dog-friendly bus.
Travelling further afield will take you to the volcanic hiking trails of You Yangs Regional Park, Warrandyte State Park and Strathmerton’s ever-popular Cactus Country, as well as the George Bass Coastal Walk to the southeast of Melbourne (dogs must be on a leash at all times).
With its incredible beaches and sunny weather, who wouldn’t want to take a dip in the crystal clear Indian Ocean when visiting WA? You can cool off in the serene waters of Hillarys Dog Beach in Perth or take your dog to Fremantle’s South Beach, one of the most popular dog beaches in the area.
Wine lovers can take in some of the dog-friendly estates in the Perth Hills, such as Fairbrossen Winery, Plume Estate Vineyard and Hainault Vineyard. For the more active, you and your pooch can stretch your legs on one of the dog-friendly hikes close to Perth. Take your pick from Lesmurdie Falls in Mundy Regional Park, Sixty Foot Falls Track in Ellis Brook Valley Reserve, Noble Falls in Gidegegannup or Mundlimup Timber Trail in Jarrahdale. Remember to always check the signage about where dogs are permitted before setting out!
Around 900 kilometres north of Perth is Monkey Mia where you can discover amazing marine life in the untouched Shark Bay World Heritage Area. While dogs aren’t permitted on diving and snorkelling trips, they can join their owners on sunset cruises onboard Aristocat 2. Phone 1800 030 427 for bookings.
What is there to do in the Top End with a dog? You can take a stroll around the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens or visit Marlow Lagoon Dog Park. Generally speaking, pets are not allowed in national parks. But in the Top End, they can visit Charles Darwin National Park, Holmes Jungle Nature Park and the Casuarina Coastal Reserve.
In Alice Springs, you can spend a day exploring Owen Springs Reserve, then camp overnight at the Redbank Waterhole overlooking the Hugh River. Dogs are allowed in the campgrounds located south of the Waterhouse Range.
When deciding on where to take your pooch for a day out, it is im-pawtant to take into consideration their temperament and unique personality. For instance, sociable dogs may do well at a pub crawl or festival while dogs with somewhat neurotic personalities might do better on a weekday shopping trip where there will be fewer crowds.
*Please note that due to the pandemic, some these events may be rescheduled or postponed
Carla Francis is the internationally recognised author behind the 5th edition guidebook and blog, ‘Travelling with Pets’. She has made significant contributions to the Japan Times and worked as a staff writer for major pet food companies. If you enjoyed reading this post, check out How to Get Cats Used to Travelling.