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Dog-friendly Parks & Walks - Melbourne

Melbourne has recently taken out the title of most pet-friendly city in Australia according to the national Pet Positives Score. In Melbourne, 46 per cent of dog owners said friendly outdoor public areas was the most important factor and Melbourne councils have listened, providing access to many off leash areas and parks where your pooches will be welcome and there's usually a great cafe nearby! 

So it's time to dust off these walking shoes dog lovers!

#1. Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy

Edinburgh Gardens was created from a grant of land in March 1862 by Queen Victoria and laid out by Clement Hodgkinson, who designed many of Melbourne's parks and gardens. At approximately 24 hectares, the park is large by inner urban standards.

Not only is it located in a great part of Melbourne town and hosts an off-leash dog park but many eateries, cafes and bars nearby will welcome your four-legged friend! 
Edinburgh Gardens - Fitzroy Memorial Rotunda erected 1925 
#2. Clayton Reserve, North Melbourne

For those living in the North-West pocket of Melbourne, Clayton Reserve is a no-brainer as it is securely fenced off so you can relax as your pooch enjoys the wind through his or her ears. Most times of the day, you’ll find other friendly dogs and dog owners there for both human and dog socialisation.

Entrance: Macaulay Road, North Melbourne

#3. Albert Park

There are many places in Albert Park where you can walk your dog. Dogs are permitted in most of the park, but must be kept on a leash in certain areas, and kept out of dog exclusion areas (including the lake and playgrounds).

It usually hosts the annual RSPCA Million Paws Walk attracting thousands of Melbourne dog lovers.

#4. Princes Park, Caufield South

Dogs and their owners check out Princes Park in Caulfield South. Picture: Chris Eastman
Not only are dogs allowed, they are the feature. It’s a great off leash dog park. As one local puts it “This park is amazing for dogs of all sizes. There is a footy ground that is fenced off so dogs stay in there or you can use the two scorer grounds that have no fences.” 

Entrance: 277 Bambra Rd, Caulfield South 

#5. Yarra Bend Park

Yarra Bend is a 260 hectare picturesque park in the Melbourne suburb of Kew and only a 10-15 mns drive away from Melbourne city centre.
Studley Park Boathouse in continuous use since 1863

The Yarra River meanders through so there are opportunities for your dogs to go for a swim on a hot day. There are open grass areas in the off leash zones big enough for games so don’t forget your ball thrower and picnic rug and make a day out of it! 

Yarra Bend Park also provides walking trails of easy (Bushland Circuit Trail) to moderate difficulty levels (Andrews Reserve and Dight Falls Loop Trail). Sights such Galatea Point, river views and abundant birdlife are some of the highlights to be discovered along Yarra Bend trails. These walking tracks are shared with bikes so be careful if your dog is off leash on a shared path as cyclists often move too fast to stop in some areas. 

Entrance: Studley Park Rd and Yarra Boulevard, Kew, or Yarra Bend Rd, Fairfield for vehicles

#6. Fawkner Park, South Yarra

This dog-friendly place is a beautiful large city park that is bordered by St Kilda Rd, Commercial Rd, Punt Rd and Toorak Rd West. Enter via Slater St (off St Kilda Rd) and turn right, and there in between the soccer goal posts (and beyond) is where your four-legged pal can run free and meet other dogs.

Entrance: via Slater St, Melbourne (off St Kilda Road) 

You may wish to explore this great resource provided by the Yarra Ranges Council, listing all offleash parks in the area.

#7. Warrandyte River Reserve

The 8.9 hectare Warrandyte River Reserve extends 2.2 km along the southern bank of the Yarra River from Andersons Creek to the Stonehouse and  offers a terrific walk through the scenic Warrandyte bushland, right next to the Yarra River. 

Families flock to the river on warm days to let their children and dogs swim, or relax with on a raft or kayak. You can park at Stiggant’s Reserve and follow the trail, learning about native bush inhabitants and iconic Warrandyte-based artists. 

Best of all, virtually all of this walk is an off leash zone so your dog can delight in running into the river and bounding back to the trail as he wishes. After you walk under the bridge and come to the timber staircase, you will need leash your dog again before walking up the stairs and then past the car park, you can continue your walk through the bush.
Entrance: Stiggants Reserve, Stiggant Street, Warrandyte, VIC 3113

#8. Elsternwick Park, Brighton

For any inner-city Melbournian with a dog, Elsternwick Park is a must. It has a beautiful lake (with turtles) and a large space for doggies to run around. Visitors are generally very friendly, with plenty of parking and Ormond Village cafes and shops are only 5 minutes away.

It’s a great morning or afternoon getaway!

Entrance: St. Kilda Street, Brighton

#9. The Melbourne Bay Trail

Dog Walking along the Melbourne Bay Trail - Port Melbourne

The Bay Trail is a shared path for cyclists and pedestrians which follows the coastline of Port Phillip Bay through the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The longest route starts/ends at Seaford and ends/starts at Port Melbourne. 

Along the way, you can detour at cafes and restaurants in Port Melbourne, St Kilda, Elwood, Brighton and more. It is a relatively easy walk with minor hills in Mentone and St Kilda and all up it is ~50km. Dogs are allowed on lead on the footpath and off lead at particular spots (Brighton Dog Beach, St Kilda Dog Beach, Port Melbourne Dog Beach).

#10. Aranga Reserve, Donvale

Aranga Reserve is just off the Eastern Fwy and has a fully-fenced dog park. What’s even more exciting is that it’s not just any ordinary dog park – it’s an activity park that gives dogs the opportunity to be challenged on specially designed equipment. You will often find other dogs there, so it can be both educational and social.

Entrance: Eastway Avenue, Donvale

#11. Ruffey Lake Park, Doncaster

The park is named after Ruffey Creek - a watercourse that runs through the park, which was dammed to irrigate the surrounding orchards, forming Ruffey Lake.
Ruffey Lake is arguably the best park for dogs in the leafy Eastern suburbs of Victoria. A good two-thirds of the park is off-leash and with lush green hills and several decent walking tracks, your pooch will happily play frisbee or run alongside the kids on their bicycles. 

Ruffey offers several BBQ areas and the best playground and toilet facilities are on the Victoria St side. There is a large lake in the middle of the park – complete with wetland wildlife – but dogs are not encouraged to swim there!

Entrances: the park has three main entrances, Victoria St, The Boulevard and King St.

#12. Lillydale Lake, Lilydale

Lillydale Lake is a beautiful 
dog-friendly area where you can enjoy a picnic or barbecue on site or take a stroll around the magnificent lake.

There are 10 kilometres of shared trails within the park, perfect for walking or bike riding. Dogs are welcome at the park with two designated dog off-lead areas. 
Off lead areas are highlighted on the park map

Entrance: 435 Swansea Road, Lilydale, VIC 3140

#13. Hobsons Bay, Coastal Trail

Early morning dog walk along the Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail at Williamstown

Walking this trail along the western side of the bay offers some of the best views of the Melbourne CBD. The 23km Hobsons Bay Coastal Trail starts in the shadows of the West Gate Bridge in Spotswood and continues along the historic Williamstown waterfront, through the Altona wetlands and past the fir trees that line Altona Beach before coming to an end at Skeleton Creek in Sanctuary Lakes. Markers and artworks along the trail tell of the cultural and historical significance of the coast.

#14. Merri Creek Walking Trail

For any urbanite, a quick getaway is a must. 

The Merri Creek Trail is a 21km stretch that is relatively easy to walk. 

The trail starts at Dights Falls near the Merri Creek and Yarra River meeting point. The trail follows the creek and along the way it passes by CERES, the Brunswick velodrome and the Coburg Lake park.

Bring your dog along to make it even better, but keep him or her on a leash whilst using the path.

#15. The Dandenong Ranges

A short 45 mns drive, South-East from Melbourne CBD, you will find the scenic Dandenong ranges with a great choice of walking tracks, varying in length and degree of difficulty.

The Mathias Track is possibly the best known walking trail that allows dogs, horses and mountain bike riders. It is an 8km return walk from one end to the other and can be accessed from Falls Road , Silvan Road (where you can park) or the Hamer Arboretum. It runs below the National Rhododendron Gardens and the old Olinda Golf course, now used by many locals to walk their dogs off lead.

Grade: Easy

The Rock Track Circuit Walk also referred to as Golf course Track, passes between the Old Olinda Golf Course and the Hamer Arboretum. This circuit does involve about 1.5 km of walking on the Falls and Olinda-Monbulk roads.

Total Distance: just under 6 km (1hr to 1.5hr walking time)
Grade: Medium (reasonable fitness level required)

Numerous other trails run off this walk and an entire day might easily be spent gadding about in the forest. Dogs are allowed on most of the trails in the area. 


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