It can be tough to go camping with dogs in Australia. National parks are mainly out, and sometimes you can’t even stay at caravan parks. But that doesn’t mean you have to leave your dog at home. There are some great dog-friendly camping areas around the country – you just have to know where to look! Our favourite place to start? State forests, which generally welcome pets. Here are our top picks for a camping experience the whole family – yes, even lassie – can enjoy (and there’s even a spot in a national park).
There’s a reason Johanna Beach is one of the most popular camping areas in Victoria – it comes pretty close to being perfect. Just off the Great Ocean Road near Johanna, the camping area is in a seriously beaut spot behind the beach, in a grassy clearing with plenty of space to spread out amidst the coastal shrub. And even though the camping area is officially a part of Great Otway National Park, you can still bring your dog. A camping area this good can (and does) get booked out, so remember to book well in advance.
If you’re after a spot of relaxation with your dog at your side, you can’t do better than the camping at Chowilla Game Reserve, which protects the Murray River floodplains near Renmark. While you can’t camp alongside the Murray itself, there are sizeable creeks – all of them feeding into the Murray – throughout the park where you can set up your tent under the trees or among the river shrub. The main activity at Chowilla is relaxation, but you can also indulge in some bushwalks, a spot of wildlife watching, canoeing or angling.
Alexander Bay camping area is Lucky Bay camping area’s less famous cousin. Luckily the scenery is just as spectacular, with long, pristine white beaches and turquoise water. The campsites are just behind the beach in the shrub, so you’ll have easy access to the ocean – which is why everyone comes here, of course! The site is managed by the local council, and dogs are welcome.
M.V. Sarawak camping area is the sort of place tourism brochures are made of. The northernmost campground in Inskip Peninsula Recreation Area, the sites here are just behind the beach. You can set up wherever you find space; most of the sites are under coastal trees and a few have views out to Fraser Island. It’s pretty basic camping, as the only facilities are toilets and fire sites. Apart from being dog-friendly, the camping area is also suitable for large groups and can be accessed by 2WD.
You’ll find this basic camping area in the dense rainforest next to the Manning River near Henry’s Bridge. It’s a picturesque spot that looks kind of wild, almost like the sort of place a bushranger might have made his hideout. These days the site mainly attracts fishermen on the hunt for trout and four-wheel drivers – as well as people looking for an excellent spot to camp with their dogs.