Travelling with a dog: Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Best trips to do an amazing road trip with your fur baby including how to find accomodation, what to pack, and most importantly best place to a pet-friendly road trip in Victoria, Australia. The Great Ocean Road!
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Living in Melbourne in 2020 meant we were stuck in a very long lockdown. Perhaps the toughest lockdown conditions in any country. So we were “dying” for a getaway as soon as the lockdown was lifted. We wanted to make sure that we can take our little furbaby, Ollie, with us when we are travelling. We have been travelling with Ollie since he was a puppy and he is an excellent traveller. So here’s our experience in our most recent travels and what we did base on our prior experience.

Finding a dog-friendly accommodation

December is summer in Australia so we thought the beachside would be ideal for our trip. If you are lucky to visit Australia you would know that Great Ocean Road (GOR) is a drive one must do. Since we live in Melbourne we have travelled down the GOR plenty of times (before Ollie). Since it is a tourist destination there are plenty of accommodations along the way. But unfortunately not that many pet-friendly accommodations. So when searching for pet-friendly accommodation on Airbnb or other short term rental sites here’s what I do. 

  1. Apply the filter to search for pet-friendly accommodation
  2. If there is no good pet-friendly accommodation, I would search for normal accommodation that suits our needs and personally message the owners and explain that I have a small dog, who is non-shedding and well trained. I would even give Ollie’s Instagram handle. While this is not the most convenient thing to do you’d be surprised how many are willing to accept small non-shedding pets like Ollie if you just send a nice message.
  3. If all else fails, hire a caravan or camp at a dog-friendly camping site (we are yet to do this but will share our experience if we do so, we recommend using Camplify to hire a pet-friendly camper van)

Lucky for us we found the most perfect pet-friendly accommodation that we could dream of. It wasn’t only pet-friendly it was an ideal couple’s getaway. Most friend friendly accommodations are not that “nice” but this little cottage had gorgeous views, it was well equipped and was just so cosy and perfect. Don’t believe me? have a look yourself in the pictures. 

This location is in Marengo, 5 min from Apollo bay city centre. They go by Coast cottages, which includes several cottages including the one we stayed at, stone cottage. We booked it via Airbnb. Of note, all their cottages are pet friendly and would be great to bookmark for future trips. During the few days we were there, the weather was not ideal but somehow we managed to have a fantastic time with Ollie as the cottage itself was sufficient to keep us entertained.

What to pack when travelling with a dog?

When travelling with Ollie I always think more than twice about what to pack. I’d rather over pack than under pack. So here’s a list of things that I usually consider

  • The car seat is a must for us. Ollie loves to watch outside of the window on long drives so buying the elevated dog car seat from icanseedogcarseat was a no brainer. It’s also very comfortable for him to take a nap along the way.
  • I also pack Ollie’s favourite doona for 4 little reasons, so Ollie feels at home and also doubles as a bed.
  • Adjustable leash and harness- we have a few different leashes that we use for several reasons. Whenever we travel or go to restaurants and cafes we use the found my animal adjustable leash. As it is easier to tie Ollie up wherever we go and it also gives handsfree functionality. For the harness, we use a Stylish hound no-pull harness. This is something we use daily. It is always advisable to put the pup in a harness when travelling than a collar as collars can choke them. We only use collars as a fashion accessory but not for functional reasons.
  • Food and treats – We make sure to carry Ollie’s regular food with us as specialised kibbles treat etc might not be available everywhere.
  • Poo bags, Water bowl, food bowl, toys, tennis balls, microfiber towel, conditioning spray, a comb, pet wipes, and a travelling water bottler. These are essentials! Ollie got attacked by grass seeds so the comb came in handy!
  • Clothes – I mean this is not a must but hey it doesn’t hurt to pack a few outfits and cute bows for photos right? I usually pack Ollie’s sunglasses, swim jacket, bathrobe, bows and clothes according to the weather.

Dog friendly places to visit in great ocean road

Dogs are not allowed in national parks in Australia. Most beaches along great ocean road drives are natural habitats for wildlife. Therefore dogs are not allowed, even on leash. Some beaches have a time limit that dogs can be off-leash. For example, Apollo bay beach does not allow dogs between 9 am to 7 pm from the 24th of December to the 30th of April. While it’ll be wonderful to have some online guide to beaches and times that dogs are allowed vs not, we couldn’t find one for all beaches along the GOR. Hopefully, there will be one in future. Or if you find one let us know in the comments. So here are a few places we visited with Ollie along the GOR on our most recent trip.

  1. Our Airbnb faced a small beach area that was easily accessible and Ollie had a wonderful time playing on the beach with us.
  2. In our quest to find a dog-friendly beach we took a drive from Apollo Bay to Bay of islands stopping at Twelve Apostles (not dog friendly) and Port Campbell beach (dog friendly). Unfortunately, most beaches along this drive do not dog friendly. There were signs at the entrance indicating that dogs are not allowed and hefty fines if caught breaking these rules. However, we did finally come across “worm bay” (pictured) which was dog friendly so Ollie could run around, dig holes in the sand and play fetch with us. It was also so secluded and beautiful. For the whole 2-3 hours we spent there it was only us inon the whole beach. Do take a bodyboard if you go there, the waves are just fantastic!
  3. On our way back to Melbourne, we stopped at Aireys inlet which is the home of Split point lighthouse that is featured in the famous TV show “Round the twist”. Lighthouse itself is not pet-friendly, but I walked around the pathway and found a few cute spots to take photos of Ollie with the lighthouse as the backdrop (pictured). This area is also home to a wonderful dog-friendly beach (pictured). This is only a 2-hour drive from Melbourne and would be a great location for a day trip as well.

Where to eat in great ocean road?

Here are few of my personal favourite restaurants along the great ocean road to grab a good meal with your pooch

  • Lorne – Lorne has some of the best restaurants. My personal favourites are Pizza Pizza, The bottle of milk (excellent burgers and milkshakes) and Moon’s licenced espresso bar (for breakfast and Coffee). All with outdoor areas to sit with your furbaby.
  • Apollo bay – Apollo Bay Fishermen’s Co-Op is located in the only harbour in GOR therefore the only place you will get freshly picked seafood. They do excellent fish and chips and if you are a fan of lobster look no further! You can of course take it away or there is plenty of outside seating to sit with your pooch. Great Ocean Road Brewhouse in Appolo bay does decent food and a mean espresso martini. Has a wonderful pet friendly covered area too! Every time we were in Appollo bay we had our breakfast in the Bayleaf cafe and would highly recommend their breakfast. Worth checking out the scallop pies next door as well. If you are in Appollo bay over the weekend they have a wonderful farmer’s market on some Saturdays. If you are into a fancy dinner I could recommend Chris’s Beacon Point Restaurant. But you will have to leave your pooch at the rental. Alternatively, you can also get catering. While I couldn’t book this myself (I didn’t plan), I found this small catering service that I’m keen to try on our next visit.

Concluding remarks

Overall we had a wonderful time on our dog-friendly getaway to Great ocean road. Travelling with a dog means we have to put a little bit more effort than usual and plan. But it is definitely worth the effort and we can’t imagine travelling without Ollie. Ollie is an excellent travel companion. He’s always happy to go lucky. We look forward to exploring more places in Australia and blogging about our travels here. Let us know your thoughts and how we can improve in the comments section below.

Disclaimer: none of the products, cafes, restuarants or other locations mentioned in this post are sponsored. We paid for everything except the 4 Little reasons doona which we received as a gift.  

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Pumpkin and Apple pupcake recipe with yummy frosting for your dog to indulge. Quick and Easy to make and Ideal for doggie birthday parties.

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  1. I often thing taking the dog is just too hard, and then when we get to our destination u keep thing: ‘aw Frankie would live it here’

    So reading this blog made me realize it totally isn’t hard at all and Frankie is definitely coming along next time😊

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. So helpful xx

  2. Sounds like such a wonderful holiday you guys all had. You’ve inspired us to do something similar.
    Speaking of dog friendly beaches, Sandringham beach (near the yacht club) is a dog friendly beach all year round. There are no time restrictions.

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