Are your ears always pricked for the best dog friendly activities in Wollongong? Our little fur babies love to get amongst it, and here in the Illawarra they are spoiled for choice! Whether your four-legged-friend loves bushwalking, swimming, digging or even a cheeky puppuccino, we know the perfect spots to take your dog in Wollongong. So, with my 4 year old Kelpie as my research assistant, here is our round up of the top Dog Friendly Walks, Beaches, Parks & Cafes in the Illawarra & Wollongong.
And once your pooch is happily worn out, head on over to What’s On in Wollongong for more local inspiration on what to do with your non-dog friends and family!
All puppies love the freedom of a run on the beach! Many of our local beaches have timed and on-leash requirements for bringing your fur babies, but there are many ‘Green Zone’ beaches, where dogs are welcome off leash, anytime! These beaches are still regularly patrolled by Rangers, so keep your pup on a leash going to or from a green zone. (This includes all pathways leading to green zone beaches.) Read on for my Kelpie’s choice of the top 5 dog friendly beaches…
Everything north of the mouth of Stanwell Creek is green zoned! This part of the beach is a lovely short section under the sandstone cliffs. This beach’s big waves and a deep channel make for some wild waters, but pups love to sniff everything that washes up here on the high tides! So you’ll need to maintain good control over your dog so it doesn’t leave the green zone to the south.
The big daddy of dog friendly beaches! Iconic Sharkeys, or Puppy Heaven to my Kelpie. This extended, unpatrolled beach has a gentle break and offers a long relaxing walk for pups and humans alike. Very popular with surfers and families as well as dogs, so the carpark does get rather full on the weekend. Seeing the joy in the dog’s faces as they play in the sand is a delight!
Tucked away beside the Headlands Hotel is a local gem known as Little Austi. This small beach is wonderfully sandy and flat for walkers. There are rock pools at either end for puppies who are exploring the water. (Note, dogs are not permitted on rock platforms across zoned beaches) Access is via Yuruga Street.
McCauley’s Beach is a terrific, medium sized local favourite. The wide, flat beach is great for serious ball games, and the creeks are great for those younger dogs that are just learning to swim. There is usually plenty of street parking available. McCauley’s is a lovely stop off point if your fur baby loves long walks or bike rides along the coastline cycleway walking path between Thirroul and Bulli.
Access is via Corbett Avenue and Sandon Drive.
East Corrimal is a great ‘first timers’ beach for new pups, because the large lagoon provides all the opportunities for water play and swimming without the intensity of crashing waves. The beach itself is very wide, so the ocean is a good distance away from the carpark and road. This is the real safety feature of this beach – ideal for younger dogs who are still practising coming back when they’re called!
In the interest of environmental conservation, lots of our local bushland is restricted for dogs, especially along the escarpment. But, there are still plenty of fabulous dog-friendly walks in the Wollongong region. (As well as the odd bushwalk or two!) Here are a few of the best…
Distance: 3.4km return
On-leash the entire length
The beautiful Blue Mile. This popular shared pathway runs from Stuart Park in North Wollongong down to the Golf Club on the southern side of the city. Along the way it passes beaches and the iconic Flagstaff Hill, not to mention some terrific dog friendly cafes (Diggies at North Beach and the Illawarra Brewery) Note, pups are not allowed to walk down on the sand at any of these beaches.
Distance: 3.1km loop
On-leash in the reserve, off-leash along the beach
Puckeys Estate is a little nature reserve just to the north of Stuart Park in North Wollongong. It’s a lovely little pocket of bushland, containing a rare patch of rainforest among the dunes. The big lagoon makes for some fun splashing too! Dogs are allowed on-leash to walk through the reserve, and off leash on the adjacent beach, making for a perfect hit of nature for you both!
Distance: 4.3km loop
On-leash the entire length
Most bushland reserves in the Illawarra are closed to pets, but on the southern side of Lake Illawarra there is a hidden dog-friendly bush paradise! The Blackbutt Forest Reserve if offically dog friendly! Here leashed dogs are permitted to join their humans exploring the regenerated forest reserve. Blackbutt Forest Reserve Loop is a mix of walking tracks and fire trails that begins at the Wattle Road Carpark. A lovely shady walk awaits!
Distance: Up to 8km return
Off-leash along the beach
Do you need to really stretch your legs? How does 8 kilometres of beach walking sound? Perkins Beach in Port Kembla is the largest off-leash beach in the Wollongong region. The off-leash area starts immediatedly south patrolled Port Kembla Beach and stretches south for over 4km to Windang Beach. That should surely wear your energetic doggo out, right? Surely…
Note: there is a section in the southern part that is locally known as an ‘unofficial’ nudie beach!
Distance: 1.4km return
On-leash the entire length
Yes! You can walk your dog across one of the most famous landmarks in Wollongong! The Sea Cliff Bridge is a short but scenic walk between Clifton and Coalcliff. There’s no restrictions on walking dogs on-leash across the bridge — though be mindful that the traffic noise, wind and heights might overwhelm skittish pups. There is parking at the pull-over bay on the south end of the bridge. For a detailed local guide, head over to Walking the Sea Cliff Bridge.
Wollongong is all about that relaxed beach lifestyle, and it’s not just for people. The Wollongong region has plenty of cafes with outdoor dining areas that welcome puppers along for the fun! Here is a short list of our favourites…
Diggies North Beach Kiosk is about as beachfront as you can get! This restored Art Deco spot welcomes pooches in their outdoor areas. Serving up the good stuff with a helping of salty breezes, think fresh juices, smoothies, salads, burgers, fish & chips. There are even dog friendly beaches on either side, Puckeys Beach (off-leash from the northern end of North Beach to Fairy Meadow) and the Blue Mile (on-leash) to the south. A perfect day out!
This hidden gem in the heart of Thirroul is locally owned – and licensed! Both a wine bar and a deli, The Pickled Poet offers seriously delicious Mediterranean lunch and dinner, as well as fancy cheeses and cured meats. Their back courtyard is very welcoming to doggies and their people.
If you and your four-legged are out and about in Wollongon CBD, you have to check out Dagwood Bar and Kitchen! This groovy spot offers street food designed to share, and are famous for their bottomless Sunday brunch! They offer an extensive drink meny which even includes a couple of local craft beers. Dogs are not only permitted, at Dagwood they’re “highly encouraged”!
One of our favourites is the ultimate dog-loving brewery. Welcome both inside and outside, dogs are treated like family here at the brewery! On any given sunny afternoon you’ll find just as many four leggeds as two leggeds down here soaking up the rays and enjoying the vibes. You can’t go wrong when you combine happy hour with a taco bar and live music.
Headlands Hotel, just above the dog friendly Little Austinmer beach, has everything you’re looking for. Ample parking, delicious up-scale pub fare and ocean views to die for. This newly built spot offers two dog-friendly outdoor seating areas – on the terrace and eastern deck – so you and your pup can relax together! (Things get especially magical at sunset…)
There are even a few special off leash dog parks in the Wollongong area! Let your dog run free and make some new friends at these top off leash dog parks…
Proud Park is our favourite dog park for ultimate freedom, located up the back of beautiful, bushy Helensburgh. The park is a large, unfenced grass paddock with an old cricket pitch down the middle. There are multiple bush tracks around too. The council has recently done a small upgrade, installing bins with dog poo bin bag rolls, permanent water-bowl and tap, and some picnic tables in the shade. This park becomes puppy mecca around 5pm on weekdays – with 20+ dogs all visiting at the same time!
Down on the sunny ovals at Figtree we have another off leash parkland area for doggies to roam! Between the creek and the eastern edge of the sports oval dogs are allowed off leash, but the area is unfenced, so you’ll want to sure you have good control. There is fun kid’s playground here too.
Access via Princes Highway, near Illawarra Opthalmology.
Riley Park, Unanderra boasts an idyllic open grassy area for off-leash fun. Surrounded by relatively quiet residential streets. Note: The off leash section is restricted to the area to the north west of Rose Parade, and there are no fences, so good voice control is a must.
The King George V Oval in Port Kembla is the perfect place to bring your first timer pups for some off leash running, because it is fully fenced! You can’t beat the location either, just next to a great kids playground and the gorgeous Port Kembla ocean pools.
Access via Cowper Street.
Looking for something you can do with the whole family? Why not check out the best kid & dog friendly walks in Wollongong!
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