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Motorhoming Adventures with two Golden Retrievers in Victoria

‘Buy a dog,’ they said. ‘Two dogs is no more trouble than one,’ they said.

What they didn’t say is that you love your dogs so much that you worry about them when you go away! We decided to try and solve that dilemma by trialling a few different ways to travel with our pampered pooches.

Our dogs are named Albus (2) and Harry (1), two Golden Retriever brothers.  They are great at experiencing the café scene - our dog training skills are not high but clearly we must go to a lot of cafés as they behave very well there....

They don’t like the heat though and they also drop a lot of hair. And I mean "A LOT!"

Having recently sold an all-consuming business, we have decided to take a break and travel with our dogs as much as we want. Those interminable Melbourne COVID lockdowns made us focus on ‘seizing the day’. 
Adventure before dementia’ as the saying goes.

We have adult kids living at home so leaving the dogs should be easy but adult kids don’t like to be tied down (ours don’t anyway) and two big dogs are a responsibility. 

Our dogs are also spoiled with someone nearly always being home so they are known to misbehave when they are left for long periods. Who ever said you really needed cushions on the couch or TV remote controls anyway?

For our adventures, we hired a 2019 Knaus by Avan luxury motorhome through (how cool is Camplify?) and organised a pick-up and handover. 

We opted not to pay for a clean. This meant that we spent quite a few hours cleaning the motorhome (mainly vacuuming up all the dog hair) before returning it.

So consider taking up that option because this wasn't the best way to finish our holiday, especially one that lasted only a few days!

The motorhome owners were super organised, having prepared short YouTube videos about all aspects of the motorhome. We watched those before we picked up our van. Handover took close to an hour and a half but, by the end we felt that we knew what we were doing.

Once we were all packed up with the dog seats belted in, we headed off for Bright, a picturesque village in Victoria's High Country.

We had not been to Bright for years and felt it was far enough to feel like a holiday but not too far that we couldn’t come back easily if we wanted to.

We planned to stop for groceries once we reached Bright but, at the last minute, we decided to pack some ingredients for a basic pasta and some drinks. Just as well because by the time we set off and were delayed by traffic leaving Melbourne and roadworks, it was after 7pm when we arrived at the caravan park we’d booked.

My husband Andrew had pre-booked us for 2 nights at the Riverview Caravan Park, Porepunkah (just outside Bright). When we realised that we would arrive after reception had closed, I called ahead and they sent us a map with the location of our powered site.

Our site was located on the Buckland River which was gushing. The sound of the running water and the kookaburras was a sheer delight.

Whilst it was still light, we connected our water, greywater runoff and power, turned on the gas and set up our table and chairs.

Unbeknown to me, Andrew had come prepared and stocked “the garage” of the motorhome with all manner of things including a fire box which had a grill on it. Some caravan parks (including the one we were staying in) allowed open fires so we cooked our pasta over the fire listening to the rushing water.

In this motorhome (model SUN TI700 LEG), the bed is elevated as it sits above “the garage”. The garage was a great bonus – it stores a washing machine, table, chairs and all manner of toys that you might want to bring. The negative was that it made the bed area smaller and, for me, it was a bit claustrophobic.

In hindsight, there were a few negatives with the motorhome – it was too cramped for two adults and two big dogs, the lounge seating wasn’t big enough for us and it was noisy whilst driving. The first two are personal choice but the noise surprised us. If we wanted to have a conversation whilst driving, we had to turn the radio off and raise our voices. For a 2019 motorhome, we thought that was odd.

Enough with the negatives though, the positives outweighed the negatives! The motorhome was clean as a whistle, very well-equipped and schmick! Everything was so smartly-designed and compact.

We spent our few days around Bright, Yackandandah, Beechworth, Milawa and Wangaratta with a side visit to Wodonga to the best dog park ever, Belvoir Park

(L to R): Harry & Albus panting after a big play session!

This was a fully fenced dog park divided into two sections – one reserved for quieter dogs who don’t like roughhousing. The doggos had a ball being let off their leads for the first time outside in a couple of days!

This was our major (negative) surprise. We had not considered that our big dogs would be on leads every time they were outside the motorhome i.e. all hours except when they were sleeping. They were even tethered to eat. We felt that this was cruel and we decided we would trial a pet-friendly house next.

Bright is a delightful place. We had a long lunch in the dog-friendly beer garden at the Bright Brewery overlooking the Ovens River, which was a powerful torrent.

Ovens River, Bright

We drove a short distance to Wandiligong and stopped at Nightingale’s Alpine Produce 
which boasts a store offering the region’s best seasonal produce direct from local growers and a large eating area in a picturesque orchard setting, surrounded by mountains.

“Nightingale Bros”, Wandiligong

A breathtakingly beautiful location! Little kids (and their parents) would love it as there is some really cute play equipment there.

We had never been to Yackandandah before and loved it. We stayed at the picturesque Yackandandah Caravan Park. Lunch was another beer garden at the Star HotelIs there a theme here?

“The Star” Hotel, Yackandandah 

The Star has a smoker so we enjoyed burnt ends and beer.

Our last full day was a morning stop at Beechworth, a jewel in the architecture crown of Victoria. We had been there earlier in the year so we didn’t stay too long but long enough to buy some gourmet pies from Miss Amelie Gourmet (Winner of the The Best Gourmet Pie in all of Australia in The Official Great Aussie Pie Competition 2022) and some baked goodies from the iconic Beechworth Bakery.

Lunch was a long and slow affair at Sam Miranda Winery in Milawa. We sat outside in the shade of an enormous tree with Albus and Harry and mulled over the meaning of life!

So what did we learn from our few days with the dogs?

We learnt to pick a shady spot in the caravan park, that you don’t always have access to Wi-Fi and that caravan parks are full of happy, friendly people who are loving life. We learnt that caravan park facilities are super clean (shame on me for assuming otherwise) and that motorhoming is freedom.
We enjoyed the convenience of having everything with us and unpacking once.

We also learnt that three full days is not enough to get into the groove, that a motorhome is tricky to park (duhh!!) and that big dogs probably need more space than a motorhome provides.

Story and photography by Leonie Jarrett, February 2023, edited by Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved).

This first experience will not deter these intrepid travellers who plan to take Albus and Harry to South Australia soon to explore Port Lincoln and the Barossa Valley! 

You can follow the next chapter of their adventures on Instagram @albus_harry_goldens

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