What if I tell you you no longer have to leave behind your beloved dog when you go on a road trip? If you want to discover some fantastic dog-friendly travels around Australia, you are at the right place. Recently, we embarked on a 10-hour road trip from Melbourne, Victoria, to Aldinga Beach, South Australia, with our two Cavoodles. Along the way, we discovered some fantastic dog-friendly spots that made our trip unforgettable.
In this blog post, we’ll be sharing Our experience in finding dog-friendly accommodation, our top 5 dog-friendly spots and all the amazing cafes and restaurants we dined at during our road trip so you and your furry companions could plan your South Australian Itinerary.
Table of Contents
- Where We Stayed – Finding The Best Pet Friendly Accomodation
- Five Beautiful Destinations In South Australia To Visit With Your Dog
- Dog Friendly Cafes, Restaurants And Things to Do During The Road Trip
The road trip from Melbourne to South Australia is typically 8 hours without pit stops. Since we were travelling with our two adorable cavoodles, Ollie and Winks, the trip took about 10 hours. When travelling with dogs, stopping for small breaks every couple of hours is essential. We went on this road trip during the easter weekend of 2023, which was only four days long. Therefore, this itinerary is ideal for those who plan to make a short trip to Adelaide and its immediate surroundings.
Where We Stayed – Finding The Best Pet Friendly Accomodation
Booking your pet-friendly accommodations in advance is essential as availability is limited. Even then we couldn’t find any suitable dog-friendly accommodation as we travelled during a busy holiday period. So we expanded our search to places that were not dog friendly but had the potential to be one (i.e. properties having a secure fenced backyard). We then contacted the host by sending a polite message describing our dogs: hypoallergenic, non-shedding and well-behaved (sending our Instagram always helps!).
The lovely Iluka at Aldinga Beach host agreed to let Ollie and Winky stay with us during our trip. This Airbnb is light and airy, equipped with all the essentials for a mini stay. It is ideally located at Fleurieu Peninsula, surrounded by amazing beaches, the beautiful McLaren Vale wine region and plenty of great cafes and restaurants. Ollie and Winky Loved the backyard and being able to walk to nearby Aldinga Beach whenever we wanted to. Symonds Reserve is a great dog park about five minutes from the accommodation. The owners loved having Ollie and Winks so much that this property is now available for pets on request! You can also book this property when you plan a trip to Fleurieu Peninsula with your dog.
Five Beautiful Destinations In South Australia To Visit With Your Dog
1. Fleurieu Peninsula Beaches
Favourite spot – Port Willunga Beach
Time to visit – Sunset or even sunrise
Things to know – Dogs are off-leash at all times except between 10 am -8 pm during Daylight Savings
The Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia has some of the most dog-friendly beaches in Australia. From the pristine sandy shores of Aldinga Beach (where we stayed) to the rugged coastline of Cape Jervis, there are plenty of options for you and your doggo to enjoy a refreshing swim or a long walk on the beach. I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of these beaches are off-leash! Ollie and Winks had so much fun running around the beaches with breathtaking views and crystal-clear waters.
We visited Normanville Beach, Carrickalinga Beach, and Port Willunga Beach while we were there. All these beaches were off-leash at all times. Our absolute favourite was Port Willunga Beach, with towering cliffs, picturesque caves and old jetty pylons that are remnants of the beach’s maritime past. We took some beautiful sunrise photos there. But if you want to take pictures of the sun setting at the horizon, visit during sunset!
2. Hahndorf German Village
Favourite spot – the Hahndorf Inn and all the arts and craft shops.
Time to visit – Spring or Autumn
Things to know – Dogs on leashes, and if your dog is well behaved, some shops will allow them inside. While you are there, make sure to visit the Beerenburg farm, which is a 5-minute drive. Dogs aren’t allowed inside.
Hahndorf, located in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia, is a charming little German town that is also incredibly dog-friendly. With a range of dog-friendly cafes and restaurants, you can easily bring your furry companion along to enjoy a delicious meal. My partner loved visiting Hahndorf Inn and having German food whenever we’ve been there. It has plenty of outdoor space for dogs. Many shops on the main street also welcome dogs, allowing you to browse through the stores with well-behaved pups.
3. Barossa Valley
Favourite spot – Rockford Winery and almost every winery we could visit!
Time to visit – Autumn – the vineyards with autumn colours are a sight to see
Things to know – Grapes are toxic to dogs, so always keep an eye.
Ok, this one is more for us humans. We wanted to visit Barossa Valley as it is known for its world-renowned wineries and picturesque landscapes. We were pleasantly surprised that it’s also a dog-friendly destination. Many of the wineries welcome dogs, allowing you to take a stroll through the vineyards and enjoy some wine tasting with your furry companion by your side. Apart from wineries, there are many dog-friendly cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a meal or a snack with your dog. We visited during Easter Sunday, and almost all the places were really busy. So we recommend booking ahead if you are visiting during the busy holiday season.
4. McLaren Vale
Favourite spot – Down The Rabbit Hole Wines – Cellar Door & Restaurant
Time to visit – We visited during Easter Holidays, so it was really busy. But Wineries are beautiful in Autumn, so it is a good time to visit, perhaps avoid busy times.
Things to know – Dogs must be on a lead and not allowed indoors (including wine tasting)
McLaren Vale is at the heart of the Fleurieu Peninsula and second only to Barossa Valley wineries! It is best to stay in this region as it has easy access to all the beautiful beaches mentioned before, like Port Willunga beach, and wineries are pretty up for with Barossa Valley with unique dog-friendly outdoor spots.
Our favourite winery was the Down The Rabbit Hole Wines. It’s a beautiful vineyard with an even more beautiful outdoor area. The vintage double-decker bus in the yard not only acts as a fantastic backdrop for photos, but it is also where the wine tastings are held, making it a truly unique experience. All the outdoor chairs, rugs etc., ooze bohemian aesthetic, and there’s always music playing. You can get yourself a platter and enjoy the good vibes with your pup.
5. Pink Lake, Dimboola
Favourite spot – The Lake, of course
Time to visit – This one is a bit unpredictable as the lake’s colour depends on many factors. We visited in April (Autumn), and it wasn’t that pink. Others have had better luck during Spring.
Things to know – The lake won’t always be pink, so check the latest Google reviews or latest photos on social media. Dogs must be on a leash. As it is a popular rest stop, there is, unfortunately, a lot of pollution, which at the time we went meant broken glass on the ground. So be cautious when walking your dogs, and please don’t litter.
If you travel from Melbourne to Adelaide via Western Highway, you will come across Pink Lake almost exactly halfway through. It is at a popular rest area right by the highway. It’s a reasonably good pit stop to give your dogs and yourself a break and take Insta-worthy pictures. However, we would not make a special visit just to Pink Lake. It does make a worthy pit stop if you are already on a road trip.
Dog Friendly Cafes, Restaurants And Things to Do During The Road Trip
South Australia is home to some of the best restaurants in Australia. Due to our visit falling during the busy Easter Holiday, most cafes and restaurants were closed or booked out. We still managed to check out a few great cafes and restaurants during our visit.
Side Hustle Pizza – We reached our accommodation pretty late in the evening, and very few places were open on easter Friday. We found this little hidden gem located a 20 min drive from our accommodation. They served some of the best pizza right out of their garage. You can order in advance. They have minimal seating, so book ahead or order for takeaway. Beautiful Carrickalinga Beach is nearby, so you can have your pizza with your dogs at the beach and watch the sunset!
We also loved the Down The Rabbit Hole Wines (read above). We checked out Kick Back Brewing for a pub night with friends. It had plenty of space (including outdoor pet-friendly space) decent drinks list, and average pub food. We’d love to check out The Little Rickshaw next time we are there, as we heard amazing things.
Coming from Melbourne, we love our coffee. So we got a morning coffee fix from Goodness Coffee Co, which has great coffee, a limited but delicious food menu (long wait time for service but worth it) and most importantly, plenty of nice covered outdoor space to dine with dogs. We also tried 31 Jetty during our visit to Normanville Beach; the coffee was pretty decent. There are plenty of beautiful markets happening on weekends. We enjoyed visiting the pet-friendly Willungaquary market.
We were at Adelaide Hills for a very short time. But we managed to check out Hahndorf Inn, which we highly recommend if you are up for a German meal (see above), and a Spanish restaurant called El Estanco in Barossa Valley. El Estanco was one of the only food options available for us at the time. We did not love their food, but their staff was lovely, and the ambience was perfect, with a large outdoor area perfect for dining with dogs. There were also plenty of local markets to check out.
We stopped by Adelaide CBD and had dinner at Africola Restaurant on the way back from the Adelaide Hills. They offer good food, friendly staff and outdoor seating so you can dine with your pets by your side.
Food Options For The Road Trip – Western Highway
While Western Highway is the shortest route, it does not offer great food options. If you depart from Melbourne, the last Mcdonald’s is at Horsham. You will only pass another Mcdonald’s once you get to the suburbs of Adelaide. However, there are local bakeries and other small cafes along the way. None of the ones we stopped at was noteworthy, but they were good enough to refill water and other snacks. If you are up for a few hours of detour or are willing to take the route via the great ocean road, you will find better food options. On the plus side, this route does offer the world-famous Silo Art Trial, which makes the drive worth the effort!
I hope you found this blog post informative in planning your visit to South Australia with your furbaby. We could only cover a few beautiful locations during our trip, but South Australia has so much more to offer! We plan to do more road trips in the near future to explore more of South Australia. Subscribe so you will be notified when we have new updates! In the meantime, check out the Travel section of our blog to get more inspiration on travelling with your dog. Follow us on social media so you can see more photos and videos. Let us know which places you visited and loved in the comments! Let’s keep each other inspired!