Best activities for a dog friendly holiday

They’re part of the family, right, so why would you want to leave them at home?

Like a parent of a human child, I get great pleasure from watching my little schnoodle Molly discover new places and experiences (I swear I can see the smile on her face). She likes to walk, eat and sniff, and there are plenty of places where I can show her a fun day out.

WALKIES

It’s got to be right up there as one of a dog’s favourite pastimes, and there are loads of pooch-friendly routes. The promenade along the Geelong Waterfront is an obvious choice, or for 20km of peaceful riverside trails, join the giant loop that is the Barwon River Trail (you can shorten your route by crossing a handful of bridges).

Dogs love the freedom of swimming and playing with other mutts at dog-friendly beaches and there are plenty on the Bellarine Peninsula. If they like to run, get on your bike and lead them along the Bellarine Coastal Trail, stretching 17km between Portarlington and St Leonards, or the 35km Bellarine Rail Trail.

For a proper bushwalk, head to the hugely scenic You Yangs. The rocky terrain here makes for an exciting walk for both dogs and humans, and there are plenty of options from half an hour to a full day. The East-West walk is a 2-hour loop, or climb up to Flinders Peak for epic 360-degree views all the way to Melbourne and Geelong.

EATING OUT

When it comes to my dog’s favourite thing to do, it’s a toss-up between eating and walking. We can combine both in the Geelong Botanic Gardens where there are some lovely sheltered lawns for a picnic, plus fountains, a conservatory and a significant tree collection.

Pavilion, at Eastern Beach, has a great outdoor area right in front of the sea baths and kids pool, where you can people watch with a meal or a drink. At The Heads leans out over the water at Barwon Heads, and you can sit out on the deck your pooch by your side.

Molly loves café strips where can hoover up any dropped crumbs or chips. Pakington Street, in West Geelong, and Hitchcock Ave in Barwon Heads, are likely spots.

For something fancy, Scotchmans Hill winery welcome dogs in their outdoor bistro (I think every waiter there visited our table to tell Molly how adorable she was and she was brought her own water bowl). Set under huge shady trees with sea views, it’s a lovely spot to pass an afternoon. Mt Duneed Estate also welcomes dogs, as well as The Whiskery on the Bellarine where you can do a gin or whisky tasting then sit in the gardens with a pizza.

TO MARKET, TO MARKET

Markets are always hotbeds of excitement for dogs. All those smells from food vans and the thrill of meeting other dogs and people. There are plenty to visit across the region. Find out more here

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