First of all, book your stay in at one of Busselton’s most family and dog friendly accommodation providers: Big4 Beachlands Holiday Park. This place has selected accommodation allowing dogs all year round, as well as camping and caravan sites that are pup-friendly aside from the Christmas holidays and Easter long weekend. In fact, your precious pet will even be welcomed with their very own little holiday pack, including a couple of treats and a list of other dog-friendly places to visit.
Big4 Beachlands is the perfect place to be situated for a fab holiday in the Margaret River region – just a few minutes’ walk from the beautiful Geographe Bay, where swimming beaches and white sand abound, and another few minutes’ walk the other way to Busselton town centre’s restaurants, cafes, bars and shops. Staying with Big4 Beachlands also plonks you right in the middle of a pretty pooch-friendly tourist area, with a whole host of activities for you and the family – and we mean the whole family – right at your fingertips and paws. So give the dog a bath and a good old brush before you pack the car up: this is your guide to a dog-friendly holiday in Your Margaret River Region!
And it really isn’t a trip to a world class wine region without a guided winery tour. Save yourself the hassle of a skipper, and include your pooch in a pet-friendly wine tour – run by Grape Escape South West Wine Tours. Paul and Geri have partnerships with all the dog-friendly wineries and will take you on a luxury tour with all the trimmings for you and your dog.
Beaches, bays and bites
You’ve just woken up from an uninterrupted night’s sleep in your Big 4 Beachlands Bungalow, perhaps to quiet panting or a few friendly licks from your furry friend. Today is all about getting into the holiday swing – that is, doing a whole lot of relaxation. Of course, there’s kids to entertain, and you don’t want the dog to be running laps around the caravan park later, so we’re thinking some beautiful beach walks, swimming and snorkelling, picturesque view-hunting and a good bite to eat.
We recommend heading down to Geographe Bay to take a swim in Busselton Dog Beach’s crystal clear, safe and dog-loving waters. Take your fully equipped back-pack though, because next up: you’re walking the Geographe Path. The Geographe Path is a fully paved walking trail that stretches 23km from Busselton to Dunsborough, and from Big4 Beachlands, you can enter it from Earnshaw Road. 23kms might seem daunting, but you don’t have to walk the whole thing – stop at some incredible, secluded, dog-friendly bays along the way, hunt down the best views and get some good ‘dog goes to Busso’ photo-opps that will make all your digital friends swoon (don’t forget to #margaretriver!). Make sure you bring the snorkels, and look out for dolphins!
Once the hunger builds up, there’s no need to leave the dog at home. Some of the best dog-friendly places for lunch in town include Urban Coffee House and Sensations Café, or you could grab some fish ‘n’ chips and enjoy them on the Busselton Foreshore, where your doggo can enjoy the view of the iconic Busselton Jetty. Otherwise, you can jump in the car and head to kid-and-dog-friendly lunch spot, The Fat Chef Café.
If you walked as far as Quindalup, you’ve reached the ultimate reward. Flametree Wines is one of the most unique cellar doors to visit in the Margaret River region, and its super kid and pet friendly. Enjoy the beachfront, Hamptons style cellar door by relaxing on the deck with a glass of wine and a substantial platter of delicious local produce. You can watch the kids entertain the dog out on Flametree’s wide-spanning lawns just in front of you.
For dinner, we recommend Clancy’s Fish Pub, one of the best spots to enjoy an evening of family fun in the Margaret River region. Dog’s even have their own side entrance, and will be welcomed with smiling faces and water bowls!
All about the attractions
You might be wondering what attractions you can head to when you’ve got your furry-friend in tow, but don’t worry – it’s not just caves and national parks that make this region such a great place to visit! You could check out the iconic and dog-friendly Smith’s Beach near Yallingup, and then have a bite to eat at the Studio Gallery & Bistro, a unique Yallingup location that offers an insight into Australian stories through their collection of artwork and dishes up award-winning, locally sourced food for lunch from Thursday – Monday. While your pooch might not be welcome inside the gallery, there’s plenty of space outside in the garden and patio for both kids and canines.
Of course, if you really want to check out some of the more touristy spots, there’s always the Doggy Day Care – and let’s be honest, your pup is probably screaming out for some dog-to-dog time by now anyway. The Margaret River Pet Retreat offers amazing doggy da-care facilities, where your dog will be fully entertained and cared for all day. Since the retreat is located inland from Cowaramup, we suggest hitting all the big sights on a circular route, including Margaret River Chocolate Co., Yallingup Maze and Ngilgi Cave, before heading up the scenic Cape Naturaliste Road to see one of the region’s best sights: the newly face-lifted, functioning Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. Here you can learn all about the region’s maritime history and achieve sweeping views of the cape, before setting off back in the southerly direction to pick up your adoring pooch.
Now that you’re down in Margaret River, you may as well head for a drink that becomes dinner at The Brewhouse. Simple and relaxed, this is the perfect spot to see out a great day of exploring, where the kids can hang out on the grass and your canine can get some much-appreciated love from all the other dog-lovers who’ve stopped in for a beer. Also, the food is downright delicious – think woodfired pizza, chilli mussels, and tacos for the kids. You’ll head back to Big4 Beachlands feeling like a local!
Fam-friendly wine touring
You can’t leave the Margaret River region without visiting some of our world-renowned wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries – especially since there are so many that are both child and pooch friendly. The first and only pet-friendly, private touring company, Grape Escape South West Tours will work with you to make a tailored route that suits your personal tastes and needs. Head to Sandalford Wines to meet Poppy, one of the cutest wine dogs going ‘round. Sandalford is one of Western Australia’s oldest running wineries, established in 1840 in the Swan Valley. By 1970 Sandalford had become one of five initial pioneers to plant vines down here in the South West.
Some other spots you might want to put on your list in the way of wine include bio-dynamic champions Cullen and sparkling-specialists Howard Park & MadFish Wines. Breweries tend to be great lunch spots for families, so you could also add Black Brewing Co., Colonial, The Beer Farm and Cheeky Monkey to the mix.
Once your day of tasting, savouring and experiencing the vineyards and brew houses of our beautiful region comes to an end, head back to Busselton to wind down at Big4. The kids might enjoy a late afternoon swim or a run around the playground, and you might even need to give your fur baby a quick scrub-a-dub and blow-dry at Big4’s dog wash.
For dinner on your final evening, look no further than The Goose Beach Bar & Kitchen, where dogs are welcome on the deck (maybe ring up in the morning to make sure you can secure a spot). A great way to wrap up your family holiday, you’ll enjoy a delicious meal with picturesque views of the Busselton Jetty, Geographe Bay and Cape Naturaliste by night.