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Travelling with Dogs: Byron Bay to Sydney

7 paw-fect spots to take your four legged friend on a roadtrip from Byron Bay to Sydney, from secluded beaches to free camp spots. Woof!

G’day!

I’m Melissa (Liss) Connell and this is my personal travel blog. The Slow Lane chronicles my Aussie adventures in my 1974 Kombi, with my furry sidekick Sandy. As the co-founder of Exploring Eden Media, I write articles (and post our books) as I travel. Check the postage stamp on your book order and you’ll see where I am right now!

dog-friendly road trip forster-tuncurry
Life’s a beach. Pic by Greg Loughlin.

The journey of life is sweeter
When travelled with a dog

dog-friendly road trip
Mini Sandy, 7 weeks old.

Top 7 spots to paws for a break on a Byron Bay to Sydney roadtrip

Blog post by Liss Connell @lifeintheslowlane

The first time I laid eyes on this little fluffball, I knew that I was in for trouble. For someone who loves travelling, owning a dog can make life a little bit, well, ruff (ok, prepare for lots of dog and border collie related puns ahead).

I’ve had to leave Sandy behind on my last few trips, but now that I’m living on the road, there was no way that I was leaving her. Travelling solo can be lonely and, at times, scary. With many of Australia’s best spots located within national parks, travelling with a dog can be challenging. That’s why I’ve compiled this list, to make life a little easier for other dog owners on the road. If there are any spots that I’ve missed, please leave a comment below!

dog-friendly road trip brunswick river
Brunswick River ex-paw-dition. Pic by me.

1. Byron Bay

Byron Bay is amazingly dog-friendly. Even on the Main Beach, right there in front of the Beach Hotel pub (where you can also see the famous shipwreck poking out from the waves). Byron’s CBD gets super busy, especially during summer, so head to Main Beach early in the morning before the crowds. Alternatively, some great nearby dog beaches include Tallow Beach and Suffolk Park. Further north there’s Brunswick Heads (pictured above) including a beautiful river where you can kayak or SUP.

dog-friendly road trip byron bay
Surfer dog. Image grab from video captured by backpacker walking past. Yes, that’s water covering her back. Sandy’s first barrel.
dog-friendly road trip
Chauf-fur. Pic by me.

2. Delicate Beach, near Crescent Head

A dog-friendly bush campground, right next to an amazing beach? I know it sounds far-fetched, but it’s true! Delicate campground, in Goolawah Regional Park near Crescent Head has spaces for vans and camping AND it’s dog-friendly. For 2 people its $24 per night ($12 each). There’s a bush track straight through to the dog beach, where you can go surfing or swimming, plus there are other beaut beaches nearby.

dog-friendly road trip kombi
Bored collie. Pic by me.

3. Moonee Beach and Lagoon

Just ten minutes north of Coffs Harbour is Moonee – a massive tidal lagoon and gorgeous beach. As soon as you arrive you’ll think you’ve found hound heaven. There’s a bush track over to a headland that has amazing views and sunset picnic spots galore. While I’m not normally a fan of staying in caravan parks, Reflections Moonee Beach Holiday Park is right next to the lagoon – it’s pooch friendly and well set-up for your beloved fur baby. There’s even a dog wash tub! My tip – book a spot right next to the river (but first, ask reception if there are any midges on the bite).

dog-friendly road trip bretti reserve
Bretti Reserve. Pic by me.

4. Bretti Reserve, near Gloucester

An amazing riverside camping area, dog-friendly and … wait for it … completely FREE! Bretti can be found on the scenic Thunderbolts Way drive between Gloucester and Walcha, in the Barrington region. Bring firewood, a kayak and enough food to last you a week or so. Once you’re here, it’s likely you’ll stay for a while.

dog-friendly road trip bretti reserve
Bretti. Dodgy iPhone snap, but you get the vibe.
dog friendly camping kombi
Pretty Bretti. Pic by me.
‘Wassup, dawg?’ Smith’s Lake. Pic by me.

5. Forster-Tuncurry

There are some amazing dog-friendly beaches around Forster-Tuncurry, though my favourites (Boomerang and Blueys) have time restrictions. Dogs are permitted on One Mile Beach at Forster, Blueys and Boomerang Beaches at Pacific Palms between 5am-8am. On Nine Mile Beach, Tuncurry it’s leash-free from 3pm-8am. Check on the Great Lakes website for other beaches nearby.

dog-friendly road trip boomerang beach
Boomerang Beach. Pic by Greg Loughlin.
dog-friendly road trip kombi
Melan-collie. Pic by me.
dog-friendly road trip beach swimming
Sandy washes the sand off. Pic by me.

6. Norah Head, Central Coast

About an hour north of Sydney is the Central Coast, a beautiful region with lots of bushland and gorgeous beaches. At Norah Head, there’s a lighthouse that’s almost identical to the one in Byron Bay (they are ‘sister lighthouses’) and, on a clear day, locals claim that you can see Centrepoint Tower from the Soliders Beach carpark. Anyway, back to the part about dogs … As you drive into Soldiers carpark you’ll see a deserted beach at the base of the sand dunes. Gravelly Beach is dog-friendly, as are the beaches below the lighthouse between Gravelly and the rockpool at Cabbage Tree Bay. Norah Head’s Holiday Park is also dog-friendly.

dog-friendly road trip soldiers beach nsw
Soldiers Beach sunset. Pic by me.

Q: What’s the difference between a dog and a marine biologist? 
A: One wags a tail and the other tags a whale. 

dog-friendly road trip blue mountains

7. Turon Gates, Blue Mountains

For something a little bit paw-sh, head to Turon Gates Eco Retreat in the Blue Mountains, doggie heaven! There’s camping, glamping and cabins that are dog-friendly, plus 6,000 acres of bushland to be explored. Take your doggie for a paddle in the river, go fishing, or even try your hand at gold panning. This is a nice getaway if you’re craving some time in the mountains.

dog friendly camping kombi beach
Womans’ best friend. Pic by Greg Loughlin.
dog friendly camping kombi
Fur-well. Pic by me.

Drop back from time-to-time as Sandy and I continue our journey to the Kimberley, Western Australia (I will upload more blogs – read them all here). And please – if any of the information has changed or if you know of more great spots, please leave them in the comments below 🙂

dog-friendly road trip
Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend didn’t own a dog! Pic by Rachel Woodward.

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