Watching your canine pal's face fall as you pack your bag for a weekend away is an experience that no dog-lover enjoys. But getting out of town for a few days doesn't have to mean separation from your pet – many parks, beaches and camping spots allow puppies. Here at Time Out, we're pretty obsessed with dogs, which is why we've also rounded up Melbourne's best dog-friendly cafés and pubs.
Many of the beaches surrounding Torquay are dog friendly, and some just outside town are even off-leash, like Jan Juc and Bells Beach. A little past Bells Beach (which is where the experienced surfers hang), there’s a state park that allows on-leash hounds and has a bevy of great beginners beaches – just look for cars with surfboards on the roof and check signs about dog restrictions.
More info: Torquay, Bells Beach and Jan Juc are along the Great Ocean Road, 1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD.
Stay here: For pet-friendly accommodation, try Edge House in Jan Juc.
As winter looms, wine country calls – complete with a roaring fireplace and a case of newly acquired booze. All that’s missing is your pet trying to hog the couch, right? Well, there are plenty of dog friendly places in Healesville and the Yarra Valley – as well as some great walking tracks in the nearby dog friendly Maroondah Reservoir Park.
Stay here: Lavender Farm in Healesville allows pets to stay on their six-bedroom rural property by prior arrangement.
Get the camping bug and bring along your pooch to clean up the burnt snags you accidentally obliterated (always check fires are allowed first, naturally). Try the pretty campsite at Marengo Holiday Park with stunning views over the water, perched just above Apollo Bay on the border of the Otway National Park (1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD). Many of the walks in the Otways are dog friendly on-leash (just check the check the signs at the start of the trail) – or, if you're looking for some off-leash fun, Marengo Beach nearby is dog off-leash all year round.
More info: For something a little closer to Melbourne head to O'Briens Crossing in the beautiful Lerderderg Gorge in Wombat State Forest (1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD).
Located around the famous mineral springs townships of Daylesford, Hepburn and Hepburn Springs, this park allows dogs on leash at all times on the extensive walking tracks surrounding the famous Mt Franklins springs. Try the Tipperary Walking Track from the picturesque Lake Daylesford to the Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve.
More info: Hepburn Regional Park, Creswick. 1.5 hours from Melbourne CBD.
Stay here: Daylesford Country Cottages.
Fancy taking a little longer than a weekend, and want to bring your best friend? Try Tasmania! Not many people know that Spirit of Tasmania has kennel decks where your dog can take the ride along with you across the pond. And the best bit about it is that you can bring your own car too – and avoid those pesky pet cleaning fees on a rental.