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Every dog can have its day on holidays

You don’t have to sacrifice accessibility or amenities to find destinations and experiences that will welcome your four-legged friend.

Having a dog means having a best friend, there for us in good times and in bad. Naturally, we don’t want to leave them at home for the very best of times: a holiday! You don’t have to sacrifice accessibility or amenities to find destinations and experiences that will welcome your four-legged friend. These pet-friendly holiday options will have you happy as a dog with two tails.

Where to stay

Booking the right accommodation is key to a successful getaway, for you and your dog. Luckily, there’s a broad range of accessible accommodation options that welcome pets, from budget-friendly campgrounds to luxurious suites in the big city.

If your travels are taking you across coastal and country New South Wales, look for a Reflections Holiday Park at your destination. They have 28 dog-friendly locations and offer great accessible accommodation options. Their accessible cabins have ramps, handrails, large bathrooms and spacious living areas. Doggy amenities vary by location, but include fenced in areas for off-leash frolicking, dog washing facilities, and more.

In the city, your dog will love the newly upgraded amenities offered at Pier One Sydney Harbour. They now offer a curated doggy dining menu, Dog concierge, and a roving Dog Cart with stylish pet accessories and pampering products. Your sleeping dog will lie on a memory foam bed and eat gourmet food from bespoke bowls. Humans will luxuriate in comfort, too. The accessible rooms have wheel-in showers, handrails, lowered vanities, widened doors, and plenty of space to manoeuvre. Around the hotel, you can access every level by lift, and the restaurants, lounges, and meeting rooms are wheelchair-friendly, too.

A dog wearing a bandana sitting on a neatly made bed in a hotel room at Pier One Sydney Harbour
Your dog can stay with you in the lap of luxury at Pier One Sydney Harbour.

In Melbourne, you’ll find Element Melbourne Richmond ticks all the boxes: sustainable, accessible, and dog-friendly. Your dog will be particularly impressed by the dog-friendly mini-bar offerings and canine degustation menu. With a full belly, they can relax on one of the comfort dog beds provided by Element. Meanwhile, you can enjoy an accessible room with roll-in shower and hand-held wand, self-closing doors, lowered power-points and other elements, non-slip grab rails, and more. Element also offers accommodations for guests who are d/Deaf or hearing impaired.

Take your pick of accommodation styles in Burnie, Tasmania: Burnie Ocean View Motel and Holiday Caravan Park offers motel rooms, cabins, and campgrounds to suit every type of traveller – and their canine companions. Their accessible cabin is a fantastic option, with easy ramp access, wide sliding doors, and open spaces for circulation. The shower has a bench and grip rails. Plus, it’s self-contained with a kitchen and a dining area.

An eco-retreat can be wonderfully relaxing, and your pup can enjoy it with you at Sunrise on Falie Court. Located at the heart of Kangaroo Island, it’s the perfect base for exploring one of South Australia’s most beloved travel destinations. There are two fully-accessible apartments available, with outdoor decks and stunning river views. If your dog is happy to quietly watch wildlife from a distance, they can accompany you on-leash as you explore.

A Queensland beach holiday wouldn’t be complete without your best friend, so take your dog with you when you stay at Gokula Stay in Hervey Bay. You’ll have everything you need right at your door, from beautiful bushland, to stunning beaches, to the entertainment on the Esplanade. The accessibility of their accommodation is second-to-none, with I-care beds, mobile hoists, grab bars, sit-to-stand aids, and more. They can even arrange to have a beach wheelchair delivered to your door. Your dog will be thrilled with the full-fenced park and the adventures to be had around the Fraser Coast.

Top tip: Always contact the accommodation provider before booking to confirm that they’ll be happy for you to bring your dog along with you. Most providers charge an additional fee, or ask for a security deposit, in case of damage. 

A dog sitting in a small tent on the grass with a water bowl next to her
Double check with the accommodation provider directly that they’re ready to welcome your canine companion. Credit: Reflections Holiday Park

What to do

Once you’ve figured out where you’re staying, you can leash up and head out to explore. There are many wonderful things to see and do where your pooch is more than welcome.

Does your dog love to dig? Then you must take them to Kronosaurus Korner, an incredible fossil hunting site in Richmond, Queensland. The museum is wheelchair accessible, with accessible toilet facilities, and the helpful volunteers are more than happy to assist you with any support you might need. Head out to the Fossil Hunting Site, where you and your dog can search for your own fossil souvenirs. The terrain out there is, of course, a bit rocky, but give it a try with a companion and a can-do attitude.

Melbourne’s Chapel Street is famous for fabulous shopping and recreation, but did you know it’s also the first permanently pet-friendly shopping precinct in Australia? Over 300 Chapel Street outlets will welcome you and your dog – just check for the ‘paw-on-the-door’ window decal. There are accessible parking spaces along Chapel Street, but they’re in high demand, so be prepared to swoop. There are accessible bathroom facilities and scooter/wheelchair recharging stations at the Jam Factory and the Council building, too.

Western Australia’s beaches are becoming more and more popular, but the coastal town of Lancelin still has some hidden gems. Your dog is more than welcome to join you by the water, and there are large off-lead areas for making the most of a beach day. There’s a beach access wheelchair available to use at no charge, from the Have A Chat General Store on Gingin Road. The Endeavour Tavern is the perfect place to unwind after a beach day, as it has been renovated for wheelchair access by ramp, has wide open spaces in its courtyards, and dogs can relax with you. 

Try a tipple or two at Murrumbateman Winery, one of the oldest wineries in the area (to the north-west of Canberra). The winery offers a rustic, boutique cellar door experience, with great accessible parking and step-free access with ramps. (Note that their bathroom facilities have limited space to manoeuvre, and have one small step to access.) Their staff are hands-on with a great inclusive attitude, and they are happy to customise your experience to ensure it suits your needs. Plus, your dog will be greeted by a friendly face – Mollie, the rescue Husky/Kelpie who supervises each vintage and hosts an annual Christmas party.

A dog sitting on the grass in between grape vines with pickers working on either side
Mollie the rescue Husky/Kelpie is ready to welcome new friends to Murrumbateman Winery.

Spend the day with your dog at the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, a lush oasis in the Northern Territory. Your dog is welcome to explore most areas off-leash, though must remain under your control at all times. Start at the Visitor Centre, where staff can guide you to the best spots to see wildlife, waterfalls, and the botanic collections. You can also hire a mobility scooter, if you need one to get around. Visit the sensory garden for a closer look at hundreds of species of beautiful butterflies.

If you’ve got time for a day trip on your next holiday in Adelaide, head for the Adelaide Hills to the charming village of Hahndorf (28km from Adelaide CBD) – the most dog-friendly town in South Australia. Wander or wheel along Main Street and see the nods to the town’s German heritage, pick up a custom-made collar or harness from Leathersmith & Bush Gallery (the perfect souvenir for your pooch), and get your dog a bone from the friendly local butcher.

Time for treats

  • Your dog can enjoy a pub meal at St Kilda’s Newmarket Hotel, Victoria, where they offer a dog-friendly parma – mini-chicken schnitzel with toppings, and sides of kibble and treats. The hotel is wheelchair accessible, too.
  • Food + Brew on the northwest coast of Tasmania offers the very best of fresh, local produce for a hearty lunch to fuel your adventures. The accessible, dog-friendly restaurant is renowned for its slow-cooked lamb shank in red wine.
  • The waterfront cafe Baaia in Sandgate, Queensland, has spectacular views across Moreton Bay that will impress almost as much as the delicious, locally-sourced cuisine. There is a range of accessible seating available, and your dog is welcome.
  • Taste the very best of South Australia at Millie Mae’s Pantry on Kangaroo Island. The pantry offers easy access with ramps and wide paths, and your dog is welcome to join you as you sip and snack in the garden. 
  • Assembly: The People’s Pub in Canberra, ACT, offers all-day food and drinks for people and their dogs. The venue is wheelchair accessible, though you will want to book ahead for peak times to ensure you can secure one of the lowered tables.
Three dogs of varying sizes and breeds gathered around a person's feet as they sit at an outdoor cafe table eating
Dogs are welcome to join you as you snack on South Australia’s finest at Millie Mae’s Pantry. Credit: Meaghan Coles

Assistance Animals

Every dog is special, but Assistance Animals are protected by legislation and regulations that pets aren’t. An Assistance Animal is not a pet, but a carefully trained support service that enables a person with a disability to participate in public life and activities. The most broadly recognised Assistance Animal is a Guide Dog, for people who are blind or have low vision, but there are many support functions that Assistance Animals can perform.

As per the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and Federal Court rulings, refusing service or access to public facilities on the grounds that a person is accompanied by an Assistance Animal is unlawful in almost all cases. To discriminate against a person because they are accompanied by an Assistance Animal amounts to discriminating against them because they have a disability. As such, Assistance Animals must be accommodated, even in spaces where pets are not welcomed.

An assistance dog in a purple harness in lion's pose on top of a brick divider in a park
As an Assistance Animal, Belle is protected by legislation and has access to all areas. Credit: Assistance Animals Australia

Unfortunately, the laws and regulations governing access for Assistance Animals vary between states and territories. If you are travelling with an Assistance Animal, you should check the requirements of the state or territory you are visiting before you depart. The Assistance Dogs Australia website has a number of helpful resources to get you started on your research.

This story first appeared in Travel Without Limits. You can subscribe to the magazine here.

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