They’re our fur children, our companions for their lifetime. They’re our precious pets and where we go, they go. Thank goodness, the popular idea of travelling with pets is becoming an increasingly accepted norm here in Australia with more accommodation and attractions now catering for four-legged travellers.
Happily, there are plenty of excellent accommodation options, breweries, wineries, beaches and other attractions where dogs are welcome. We recently enjoyed a family getaway at Big4 Beachlands in Busselton with our dog, Teddy, and were pleasantly surprised how many places welcomed Teddy with a fresh water bowl and a pat.
It’s important to note that there are significant National Parks in and around Busselton, Yallingup and the Margaret River region, where dogs are not allowed (approved assistance dogs excepted). Sadly, even the gentlest dogs are a threat to the native fauna; for example, a mother possum will drop and abandon their baby if she smells a dog’s scent, even days after its been in the park.
There are two parks near Margaret River with places where dogs on a leash may be taken – Keenan and Bramley National Park. Find them by checking the ‘Dogs Allowed’ box on the Parkfinder page of the DPaW website.
There’s plenty of quality pet-friendly accommodation options in the region, including some with dog runs that allow you to leave your precious pet for a few hours. Many wineries and attractions also will welcome your pet – with understandable provisos.
For recreational vehicle travellers in caravans and campervans, holiday parks in the region (including Beachlands) are highly aware of the need to provide pet-friendly site options and do so, usually with the exception of long weekends and school holidays.
Most accommodation and wineries do ask that you call in advance and they will want to know your breed of dog.
There are dog walking beaches throughout Your Margaret River Region – however do check the signs before letting Fido off the leash!
The following are just some ideas from the region’s many pet friendly attractions, wineries and accommodation. Like us, you’ll be welcomed warmly!
(Image: Tim Campbell Photography)
“We’d stay here again in a heartbeat – family-friendly, dog-friendly accommodation right near Busselton beach”
BIG4 Beachlands Holiday Park has selected dog-friendly accommodation, camping and caravan sites. It was perfect for our family getaway and we’d return in a heartbeat. In fact, the kids didn’t want to leave.
We visited during school holidays and there were plenty of young kids for ours to play with, but only a handful of dogs who were all beautifully behaved. Dogs are allowed in selected accommodation all year round, and on camping and caravan sites except during Christmas holidays, the March long weekend and Easter – bookings must be made by phone.
Teddy, our Australian shepherd, got a little welcome pack – treats, poo bags and a list of dog-friendly places to visit.
We took Teddy for a run along the dog beach which is a lovely swimming beach too, before cleaning up and heading to The Goose on the Busselton waterfront for dinner. There’s a sensational view of Geographe Bay and the Busselton Jetty, and we were there just in time to watch the incredible sunset colours. Dogs on a leash are welcome on the deck.
You could easily spend the whole day here as there’s plenty to keep kids happy; there’s pedal karts and mountain bikes for hire, table tennis and a NEOS 360 which is an interactive electronic playground game.
Our girls safely scooted round the park on scooters we brought from home, and swam in the heated pool. It was the ‘goldilocks’ temperature – not too hot, not too cold, and adjacent to it was a splash and play zone, a brand-new playground and new jumping pillow.
During school holidays the park is humming with young families, and during term time you’ll find grey nomads who are touring Australia. There’s great RV facilities here.
During the day we explored the region; wine tasting at Arimia while Teddy and the kids checked out the pigs, Hay Shed Hill for wine and cricket and Cheeky Monkey Brewery for lunch. Their playground is one of our favourites – it’s got plenty of play equipment and is fully fenced so the kids can’t escape.
When you’re ready to blow off some steam, we recommend The Beer Farm. They’ve got the slippery dip you dreamed about as a child – long, fast and fun. Pictures are a bit deceiving; it flattens out and stops before the dam (phew!) so you won’t have to wade in and rescue your kids.
Alternatively, hit the beach for a swim. There’s plenty of dog beaches in Busselton, Dunsborough and Yallingup including the beach near Beachlands Holiday Park.
We got salty and sandy at the beach, so we treated Teddy to a bath and blow dry in Beachlands’ new dog wash. It was $8 well spent, as Teddy holds a lot of sand in his Australian shepherd coat, and he smelt sweet afterwards.
Wineries and Breweries – Top Picks
Cape Naturaliste Vineyard – Yallingup
Monty the Jack Russell and Max the rescue dog are well known to this vineyard’s regulars, and kindly offered free Smackos to Travelling Oskar when we visited. He even ended up on the Polaroid picture board where all the doggie visitors go! You’re very welcome to bring your fur children here and even a picnic to have with them on the terrace – with some great Cape Naturaliste wine, of course.More about Cape Naturaliste Vineyard
There’s oodles of room outside on the tables under the market umbrellas and in the sunshine to enjoy a bevvy with your doglet (and they often have a dog in residence that’s a cuddly handsome puppy too!) The food is great at this lovely modern brewery and the service is fast and welcoming.More about Cheeky Monkey
The dogs here – Dusty and Molly – earn their living as meet and greet hostesses! We enjoyed a casual and relaxed atmosphere here and it was easy to see how welcome dogs are throughout the wine tasting event and indeed our very pleasant stay. The owner Ian Tassell introduced me to the Wine Dogs book series – lovely to see Your Margaret River Region’s vineyard hounds represented on its pages!More about Tassell Park Wines
Also recommended: Lenton Brae Estate (when Travelling Oskar met Betty, the English Pointer here, they liked each other on first sight!) House of Cards, Howling Wolves Wines (Oskar said it was like re-joining the pack) and Hay Shed Hill (Becky the resident Labradoodle could tell some tales!).
Dining Options – Top Picks
Generally, restaurants and cafes here like elsewhere in Australia will accommodate responsible owners and their pets in outdoor or patio areas. The locals have their favourites, and if you keep your eyes open you will see residents and their pooches out and about. Going where the locals go is always a good idea! We loved the positive ‘dog policy’ on prominent display at Clancy’s Fish Pub at Dunsborough where dogs have their own side entrance to the outdoor terrace.More about Clancys Fish Pub
The Studio Bistro – Yallingup
Wanting a hit of art and culture to go with our food, we stopped at the Studio Gallery & Bistro at Yallingup. Being relatively new to this part of the world, I am always really interested in connecting to my new ‘place’ by the pathways that excellent local art provides and this was a delightful eye opening experience for me. The bistro is consistently popular here and was fully booked out – no surprise at all when checking out the menu and the meals coming out! There’s a wide patio and garden suitable for dogs and your dog is welcome here.More about The Studio Bistro
Remember when entering eateries to keep your canines leashed at all times and, while some do provide water bowls, responsible owners usually have their own.
Petra Olive Oil Estate – Yallingup
Petra Olive Oil Estate has 1200 trees on 30 acres of gently sloping land, 3 picturesque dams (complete with kangaroos!) and a backdrop of Yallingup ocean views. We visited their shed door, tasting room and farm shop and discovered that they have luxury dog friendly accommodation in 5 stunning chalets. Petra produces their own lovely Extra Virgin Olive Oils, gourmet vinegars & delicatessen products as well as a gorgeous range of EVOO cosmetics. You can pop in for a tasting or two and then head out with your furry friend to their outdoor seating situated in a stunning tranquil setting around the olive grove and dams for an antipasto picnic lunch, morning or afternoon tea ($3 coffees!). You can BYO wine or bubbles with a $3 corkage and even keep your glass – what a way to spend an afternoon with your fur baby!More about Petra Olive Oil Estate
Ten luxury suites, climate controlled, piped music, custom meals – I’m describing Margaret River Pet Retreat: the place where pooches come for a holiday while you are having yours! And for visitors to Margaret River Region, the retreat offers doggie day care so you can tour with peace of mind knowing that your precious pup is safe and happy. All guests must have current vaccinations and flea treatment. The Pet Retreat’s thoughtful owners also include pet pick up and drop off between 8.30am and 10.00am or 3.30pm – 5.00pm, and the 100 acre property is situated just off Bussell Highway between Margaret River and Busselton. Your doglet may never want to leave such luxury!More about Margaret River Pet Retreat
Dog exercise beaches and walks – Top Picks
Busselton has beautiful dog-friendly beaches that will eat up hours of your holiday stay. The Margaret River region is famous for its surf culture and its balmy summer weather, so what better place to be?
No holiday would be complete without a day splashing and swimming in the cool Indian Ocean. Or digging holes and getting sandy, if you’ve got four legs. We’ve compiled a list of the top dog-friendly beaches near Busselton, Dunsborough, Yallingup, and Margaret River, that the whole family will love.
Note: City of Busselton made some changes to the dog exercise beaches in 2015, so we recommend checking out the City of Busselton Dogs on Beaches brochures (PDFs) for maps.
Busselton beaches are generally flat with relatively calm waters, as they’re protected from large swells by Cape Naturaliste. Beachlands is so named because you can exit your tent or villa, walk 150 metres and you’re at the beach. It’s relatively shallow which makes it perfect for pre-schoolers, with fine sand and crystal-clear water. Look out for dolphins swimming by, and the occasional friendly ray.
This is a dog friendly beach, all year round. It stretches from Dolphin Road in the West to the Margaret Street Beach Access Carpark in the east. See map.
The township of Dunsborough is a 15-minute drive away. Its foreshore has everything families with young kids need for a perfect day at the beach: shady, grassed areas; long stretches of fine sand; shallow, clear waters; barbecues and picnic tables; toilets nearby, and it’s close to the town centre. For older kids and adults, it’s the perfect place to try kayaking or stand-up paddling (SUP) too.
Dogs are welcome in areas between the fisherman’s boat ramp (near McDermott St) and the Beach access path opposite Lot 30 Geographe Bay Road, then from West of Tulloh Street and Centennial Park Dunsborough.
In Old Dunsborough between Gifford Road access path and Burt Court Beach access path, and Vincent Street and Bay View Court.
One of the most sublime beaches is Bunker Bay, which is located up near Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse. The sheltered bay boasts crystal clear water in hues of blue and turquoise with a light, lapping surf. Start the day with breakfast at Bunkers Beach House then hit the sand for a swim and a run with your dog, who is welcome on the beach north of the café access path.
In Yallingup, dogs are welcome on the beach north of the Dawson Drive access path. It’s well sign posted and the exclusion zone includes from the Dawson Drive path to the Slippery Rocks Car Park. Yallingup Beach is surrounded by National Park so be careful to use the Dawson Drive entrance, so not to get stung by the rangers.
Smiths is a popular spot for surfers and Yallingup Surf School offers lessons for beginners and novices. It’s a tricky one for dog owners however, dogs are welcome before 9am and after 5pm in summer. Check the signs for details and detour to Yallingup if in doubt.
Walk the Geographe Path
The Geographe Path is the paved walking trail along the foreshore, and it’s perfect for walking your dog. It stretches 23 kilometres from Busselton to Dunsborough; a pretty serious walk or bike ride. Break it up into shorter jaunts and check for dog-friendly beaches along the way. If you’re staying at BIG4 Beachlands Holiday Park, enter the path at Earnshaw Road. From here it’s four kilometres to the Busselton Jetty and five kilometres to Abbey.
Hike the Bush Loop
The Bush Loop in West Busselton is a 4.5-kilometre hiking and biking trail, and dogs are welcome on a lead. Enter the trail from Frederick Street in the Light Industrial Area and follow the path along bushland. The path will begin to loop at Queen Elizabeth Avenue, then you’ll follow the Vasse Diversion Drain along College Ave, cutting in through suburban streets to arrive back where you started.
If you’re staying further south near the Margaret River township, you can let your dog off lead at the Gnarabup dog beach which is accessible via Riflebutts reserve – where dogs are also allowed (excluding playground area).
Flinders Bay is a lovely place to run the pooch. The dog can go free range from the surfer’s lookout Albany Terrace to the point where Albany Terrace turns west.
*This article was originally written by Mia Lacy and edited with additional content by Lizzie Pepper on January 24th 2018