Want to embark on a dreamy getaway, but can’t bear to leave your furry best-friend at home? In Australia’s South West, dogs are considered part of the family, and everyone knows family means no-one gets left behind (or forgotten). Think sunset picnics by the lapping waves of one of Australia’s most stunning indigo-coloured coastlines, or lunch with delectable drops (and plenty of doggy treats) at one of the lush vineyards that dot the rolling hillsides.
Here’s our handy guide to the best spots to pitch a tent, breathe in the sights, and delight your tastebuds, that welcome doggos of all ages.
Ready to ‘ruff’ it for a night under a tapestry of twinkling lights? Camp by the water in the Bunbury Geographe region, with Lake Kepwari, Glen Mervyn Dam, and Stockton Lake all allowing leashed dogs to stay alongside owners looking for a little water-skiing and swimming fun. Those seeking the luxury lifestyle at a powered campsite, can try nearby Lake Brockman Tourist Park in the hushed surrounds of the forest.
Further south, free camp by the water at beautiful Greenbushes Pool, or call in at Sues Bridge in the Blackwood River National Park, a tranquil hideaway perfect for a spot of kayaking. The campground there boasts a barbecue, toilet, and access to water, and dogs are welcome provided they remain on a leash.
Nestled among the karri forests of Pemberton, wander into Big Brook Arboretum and get lost among its trail of exotic sequoias and American redwoods. There is a small fee for camping, with the peaceful spot ideal for any canine companion adventure – accommodating tents, campervans, and caravans.
Looking for a getaway with a little more glamour? Kalgan Retreat near Albany, offers luxurious king size sleeping quarters, a rainwater shower, and an enclosed backyard for your pooch. While The Cottage from Samphire Collection in the Great Southern welcomes your pup to play and stay, just so long as they don’t get too comfy on the couch!
In the Southern Forests and Valleys your dog can watch on (in jealousy) as you cuddle up to lambs and ducklings at the rustic Diamond Forest Farm Stay. Home to more than 100 animals, their cottages are also pet-friendly, with secure yards to put you at ease.
Decadent options await too, with Cape Executive Holiday Properties in the Margaret River region, as well as the eco-friendly tiny cabin ‘Daniel’ from Heyscape, which welcomes restless heads and paws, to the still surrounds of Yallingup.
Plenty of café’s serve up delicious puppacinos along the South West coast, including White Elephant Café by Gnarabup Dog beach and the sun-drenched gazebo area at Dolphin Discovery Centre.
Breweries that will get your pal barking include Beerfarm in Metricup and Shelter Brewing Co. where dogs can relax on the grass beneath towering pine trees as their owner’s sip on a pint. In Bridgetown, The Cidery has a shady spot outside with dog bowls to wet your dogs whistle, while you wet yours!
The luscious grapes might be grown for the humans, but there’s plenty of cellar doors and vineyards open to dogs. Passel Estate in Cowaramup and Fishbone Wines in Wilyabrup are ideal places for your pooch to curl up for an afternoon nap as you get your own tongue wagging with tempting sips from robust vintages.
When your border collie is up at 5am, why not make the most of your adventure and hit some of the South West’s best dog-friendly trails? Start your day with an adventure amongst the magical forests of Gnomesville, home to more than 5,000 miniature friends, before enjoying a chorus of birdsong through the trees at Golden Valley Tree Park in Balingup. Traverse the Southern Forest and Valleys with a trip to Big Brook Dam in Pemberton where the trails bring quiet, calm, and solitude. Between April and October, the cooler weather makes the Wadandi Track in Margaret River a glorious stroll, with cafes and picnic areas the perfect place to stop and rest your tired feet (or paws).
Feeling the heat? Might be time to dip your pooches’ paws into the water. The South West offers a range of mesmerizing coastal spots for four-legged friends, from the Back Beach in Bunbury through to Middleton Beach in Albany. For pure white sands and shallow turquoise waters, make sure to stop off at Bunker Bay in Cape Naturaliste, or continue down the coast towards Augusta to call in at Flinders Bay, overlooking the surging waves of the mighty Southern Ocean. For pups keen for a touch more serenity – try out Peaceful Bay or Lights Beach in Denmark.
Please remember that not all spots in the beautiful South West are designed for dogs. There are many national parks where pets are not permitted as they pose a threat to the country’s native fauna. Put fido and your heart at ease, by stopping at appropriately signposted spots, or ask at any of the local Visitor Centres for dog-friendly locations.