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Pet-friendly Road Trip in South Australia - Travelling with two Goldens

Some of you will recall the recent adventures of Leonie and Andrew Jarrett motorhoming with their two Goldens, Albus and Harry, around Victoria.

With the winter break only a few weeks away, you may be planning to head out of town for a break so how about a leisurely trip to discover the joys of the Eyre and Yorke Peninsula as well as the Barossa Valley?

Leonie shares her favourite experiences and tips for travelling with dogs gathered first hand during her journey in the hope these will help you plan your own unforgettable escape!

“Late last year we hired a motorhome to travel with our two dogs Albus (2) and Harry (1) but felt we were all a bit cramped! With our recent trip to South Australia we wanted to try something else so this time we opted for renting pet-friendly accommodation (using Airbnb) for our stopovers.

We started by making up a “doggie kit” for the car trip – the dogs’ leads, a water bowl, some food and snacks and dog waste bags plus a bottle of water in case we couldn’t find water. We actually kept our “doggie kit” handy for the whole trip.

We also made sure we stopped at least once every two hours to let the dogs have a drink and blow off some energy. Ideally, we tried to find a dog park or at least a park so the dogs could have a run. Special mention to the dog park at Railway Terrace, Tailem Bend (so good, we visited it again on the way back home!).

Albus and Harry cuddling in for the long car ride from Melbourne to Wallaroo

Our first day was a long (900 km) drive from Melbourne to Wallaroo, one of the most popular coastal escapes on the Yorke Peninsula and only a two-hour drive from Adelaide. Dead kangaroo count on the way was high. Scenery beauty count was not so high...

We wouldn’t normally drive that far in one day especially with the two dogs but we wanted to catch the Spencer Gulf Searoad and because it left at 9:30am we had to be there the night before. 

The Spencer Gulf Searoad, Wallaroo to Lucky Bay car ferry

To ferry across two adults, a car and a boat is almost $500 one way (ouch!). It does however save a few hours of driving so we chose to take it. But on the plus side, pets are very welcome and are able to travel at no charge.

The ferry worked well with our dogs, although it is very weather dependent. You have to leave your car and you can’t take the dogs into the cabin so you need to be outside with the dogs for the whole two-hour crossing. (Note that it took us two and a half hours on our way back a week or so later). We did see one person leave his dog in the tray of his ute but we didn’t feel comfortable leaving our dogs unattended for that long.

Enjoying the views from the top deck of the car ferry

There is loads of room on the top deck of the boat but there is no shade. Otherwise, there is only a tiny area outside the entrance to the cabin.

When we arrived in Wallaroo the night before, we had found the local dog park – conveniently across the road from the ferry terminal on Heritage Drive. The dogs had had a run there which they well deserved after being cooped up in the car for so long. We took them back before the ferry trip the next morning so they snoozed the whole trip.

A couple of hours drive later and we arrived in Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula, where we stayed for a week. All I knew about Port Lincoln before I arrived was that it was the Tuna Capital of Australia and the home of weightlifter Dean Lukin. (Yes, I am old enough to remember the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics!)

Port Lincoln is actually a big town. About 13,000 people live there. It sits on Boston Harbour which is beautiful. From Port Lincoln, we day tripped to many other towns. 

Coffin Bay, South Australia

Tumby Bay Jetty, South Australia

The ones which stood out were: Coffin Bay, Tumby Bay and Streaky Bay.

Sampling Coffin Bay's local delicacies

We travelled to Coffin Bay for their famous oysters. 

We wanted to do an Oyster Farm Tour so we found a dog sitter nearby via MadPaws. Our pampered city pooches got to be farm dogs for the day (they slept extra well that afternoon and night!!)

The Oyster Farm tour was really fun – we put on waders and sat on a pontoon as we learnt about oysters and how to shuck them. We rinsed the freshly shucked oysters in the sea water and ate them natural. What a treat!

Everywhere we went, we were amazed at how many caravans there were! Honestly, most of the towns are so sleepy that I think there were more caravans than residents!

Albus & Harry relaxing on the deck of an Airbnb in Port Lincoln
From Port Lincoln on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia, we travelled to Hardwicke Bay on the Yorke Peninsula. We stayed at a house right on the beach. We walked in mid afternoon and the sun was blinding through the windows. 

We had the privilege of front row seats for a wonderful sunset that night.

Each day, we saw pelicans and dolphins. And something quirky – tractors driving on to the beach to launch boats.

Leonie, Albus & Harry exploring the beaches of Harwicke Bay

We drove on to the beach ourselves and parked. We let the dogs off leash and they had the time of their lives running on the white sand, playing in the rock pools and chasing a ball.

This part of the world has unspoilt, beautiful beaches and, seemingly, few people. Again, the caravans seemed to outnumber the residents.

We couldn’t resist a trip to South Australia without a couple of days in the Barossa. Only a two and a half hour drive from Hardwicke Bay and we were in our lovely cottage in Angaston. Angaston is a lovely little town full of stone houses and buildings. The main street is lined with cafes and restaurants so you won’t go hungry here!

We found another great dog park – this time at Nuriootpa. It is a 5 star dog park complete with obstacles and toys!

We had arranged dog day care through MadPaws again. This time, not at a farm but an ordinary residential house. The dog minder is a vet student as well as keen pet photographer so we got some bonus doggie photos and videos!

Whilst the dogs were being photographed, we joined the Penfold’s Barossa Luxury Wine Experience. After the Penfold’s Experience, we went to Seppeltsfield for lunch at Fino. The driveway into Seppeltsfield is lined with Canary Date Palms – 2,000 of them are on the property and it makes for a grand entrance! The terrace outside Fino is gorgeous as are the outbuildings, housing wares by local artisans. Lunch and the whole winery were gorgeous!

One more day meant one more lunch! This time at Artisans of Barossa. We ate outside so that we could take the pooches. Again, the meal was terrific as was the local Shiraz – ‘The Schiller’ by Schwarz Wine Co.

Reluctantly, we made our way home. As they say, ‘all good things come to an end.’ After our 16-day trip to South Australia, all I can say is that I’m not sure why we have not been to SA more times in the past. 

As for the dogs, they only left us for two part days when they went to a MadPaws minder so their eight furry feet are voting for more doggy / pawrent holidays!

"Mum, muuum... are we home yet?"

Travelling with the dogs has not been too restrictive. They loved 24/7 company and they travelled so well – they sat quietly for hours in the car, sat contentedly tethered at cafes and pubs, slept wherever and whenever and (mostly) stayed off the couches at the Airbnbs we rented. 

For us, renting pet-friendly accommodation has been a far better doggy travel experience than hiring a motorhome.

written and all photography by Leonie Jarrett, May 2023 for Australian Dog Lover (all rights reserved).

About our Writer
Leonie, Albus & Harry having a
break in Hardwicke Bay

Leonie Jarrett lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband of 3 decades, her four adult children and her two Golden Retrievers.

Leonie has variously been a lawyer and a business owner.

Now that she is semi-retired, Leonie is loving writing about her life, her travels and her experiences together with writing poetry and fictional stories.

You can follow their adventures on Instagram @albus_harry_goldens

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