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Frosty Paws Adventures across VIC & NSW

Unleashing the Top Dog-Friendly Winter Escapes in Victoria and NSW

Do you dream of frost-kissed mornings and cosy evenings by the fire? Are you a fan of a winter wonderland escapade, complete with your furry best friend by your side?

While not everyone imagines a getaway during the chilliest months, there's a whole world of enchanting winter travels to discover, which Puppy Tales Photography's Kerry Martin has experienced with her husband Sam and dogs, Keiko and Summer. She shares some of their favourite places with us.

What makes winter travels so grr-eat? 

Imagine waking up to the allure of fog-draped landscapes, a touch of sparkling frost or the delightful crunch of fresh snow beneath your boots (and paws!). Picture invigorating cool-weather hikes followed by well-deserved wine tastings. And let's not forget the blissful sleep-ins, because winter sunrises are a lie-in compared to other seasons! With fewer travellers, winter is the pawfect time to visit a favourite winter hotspot.

So, are you feeling the call of the wild...err...winter yet? Pet parents, I’ll take you on tour of Victoria and New South Wales' best wintertime destinations. We've sniffed out Dinner Plain, Macedon Ranges, the Dandenongs & Yarra Ranges, and the Mallee Region in VIC. In NSW, we've got Orange & Bathurst, Jindabyne & the Snowy Mountains, the Blue Mountains, and the New England Region. And then there’s our Capital City, Canberra.

Get ready to paws for the frosty delights!

#1. Dinner Plain, VIC

Dinner Plain is the ultimate snowy playground for you and your best friend. As Australia's only place above the snow line where dogs can visit without a permit or special permission, Dinner Plain is the winter wonderland just waiting for pawprints!

Located 5 hours from Melbourne and 6 hours from Canberra, this winter destination offers pristine, snow-covered landscapes for you both to explore and play. Fancy a fun hike on the town loop or one of the many cross-country or mountain bike trails? You've got it! Want to build a snowman with your pooch and then let them gleefully tear it down? This spot is your chance! Chasing snowballs has never been more fun than with a dog!

When the outdoor play is done, nothing beats cuddling up next to a roaring fireplace. If you're lucky, you might just witness a mesmerising snowfall right through your window. If not, it's the ideal spot for a good book or a relaxing daybed snooze with your furry friend snuggled up by your side.

You can make your Snow Dogs experience truly unforgettable by booking a Snow Dogs photo session there. I’ll take you to the most photogenic spots in town to create incredible memories of your snowy adventures and stunning photos of your dog amidst the awe-inspiring winter wonderland scenery.

There’s so much to tell you which is why I’ve written an article solely on visit to the Snow and Dinner Plain with your dog! 

#2. Macedon Ranges, VIC

Scenic walks, doggo-friendly gardens and sipping on a hot cuppa with your dog at your side - welcome to the Macedon Ranges. This region is a treasure for charming dog-friendly towns like Daylesford, Kyneton and Mount Macedon. Each boasting a bevy of walks, cafes, and accommodations that welcome wagging tails!

While you might catch snowfall here (check the snow cams atop Mount Macedon to see if there’s any white coverage), the region offers many worthwhile dog-friendly walks. Try the 9km trail to Camels Hump or a shorter 3km jaunt to the Memorial Cross in the Mount Macedon Regional Park. Or follow the Goldfields Track through some of Victoria's historic towns and stunning forests - Daylesford and Hepburn Springs sections are highly recommended.

Explore the dog-friendly gardens sprinkled throughout the area. There’s the Kyneton Botanic Garden, Black Hill Reserve, Wombat Hill Botanic Garden, Malmsbury Botanic Garden & Lake, Le Gerche Trail, and Forest Glade Gardens. They offer year-round peace and natural beauty, with the last colours of Autumn likely lingering in early June. And be sure not to miss Borealis on Lake Daylesford, a unique Northern Lights event where well-behaved leashed dogs are welcome.

Rounding out your visit, check out the area's many dog-friendly cafes, pubs and cellar doors. This region is just brimming with places that'll have both you and your pooch drooling. For a ‘taste’, check out this guide.

#3. The Dandenongs & Yarra Ranges, VIC

Moving on to The Dandenongs and Yarra Ranges, this winter getaway offers just as many delights for you and your furry friend. In this region, nature's beauty competes with a multitude of pampered pup experiences.

Immerse yourselves in the tranquillity of parks like Alfred Nichols, Cloudehill, and RJ Hamer Arboretum. As winter fades, the blooming spectacles at George Tindale Garden offer a pretty backdrop for your late winter escapades.

If you're eager to get those paws moving, our selected scenic trails won't disappoint. The Mathias Track, Tan Track, and routes from Emerald to Cockatoo or Silvan to Mt Evelyn are brimming with sights and smells for your four-legged friend. For off-leash joy, visit Lilydale Lake, Cardinia Reservoir Park or the Old Olinda Golf Course.

Add a dash of novelty with a ride on the iconic Puffing Billy train on their special Dog Express days! Once you've disembarked, a visit to the Doggie Cafe in Boronia will spoil your pup with a menu just for them.

And for your peckish moments, there's a spread of dog-friendly dining spots, including the Olinda Tea House, Skyhigh on Mt Dandenong (entry fee applies), Seasons at Cloudehill, Ripe Cafe, Fat Badger Cafe and Prosperina Bakery.

#4. Mallee Region, VIC

As we continue our wintertime adventure, we move towards a unique option with The Mallee Region. Unlike our previous frosty escapades, this part of Victoria flaunts a winter charm of its own. While there’s not going to be snow fall here, there are a few to-do’s here that are best timed over the winter months.

Have you ever dreamt of visiting the unique environment of a salt lake, under an endless sky, with your dog? Lake Tyrell is the spot for this. 

In winter, it's more likely to hold water, offering breathtaking mirror-like reflections. Be mindful, though. While it makes for inspired scenery and photos, the water isn't safe for ingestion. Be sure to rinse your dog's paws and belly afterwards.

Another to-do is the Silo Art Trail. Touted as Australia's largest outdoor gallery, it's an excellent road trip option, especially during winter, as you're spared the possibility of overly warm days and flies. The small towns en route don’t offer many meal options, but packing a picnic solves that problem!

August brings an unexpected surprise to Robinvale: flowering Almond Trees and the Almond Blossoms Festival

When the wind carries petals down from the trees, it could be mistaken for snowfall! Whether you visit for the festival or simply to drive about yourself it's a worthwhile visit.

Lastly, don't miss out on the larger townships of Mildura and Swan Hill. They offer plenty of dining options, walks along the Murray River, and even dog-friendly houseboat hire.

#5. Canberra, ACT

Canberra is a barkingly good winter destination! With its wide-open spaces and foggy mornings it's perfect for wintertime scenery and adventures. While snowfall is a rare event here, Canberra, along with Hobart, are the cities most likely to see a snowflake or two.

One of the reasons to love a winter visit to Canberra is for Corrin Forest's Dog Day. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for event dates and tickets. A 50-minute drive from Canberra, the dog day offers your pooch the opportunity to discover the joy of snow. Although the experience is more minited than Dinner Plain, it's a perfect snow sampler for your fur-friend.

Canberra's not only about snow. It’s a wonderful area for walkies! Lake Burley Griffin, Molonglo Gorge, Kowen Forest, the Glenburn Precinct, the Parliamentary Triangle, The Pinnacles and Mount Ainslie are all tail-wagging adventures waiting to happen. Or take stroll in the National Arboretum or Haigs Park to admire the trees.

For a dash of culture, explore the outdoor spaces of the National Gallery or the beautiful gardens like Yarralumla Nursery or Nara Peace Park. Many of Canberra's cafes and pubs have cosy heated outdoor areas, perfect for brunch with a canine companion. One not to miss is Capital Brewery, where dogs are welcome in the heated indoor spaces. Plus, the burgers are scrumptious!

#6. Orange & Bathurst, NSW

Venturing into New South Wales, the vibrant towns of Orange and Bathurst in the Central West hold charm in the winter months.

Bathurst's Winter Festival is an enjoyable event. While many activities cater to children, the illuminations after sundown are fun for checking out with your dogs. Extend your Bathurst tour with a serene stroll through the historic sites of the town (including the impressive Machattie Park) or drive around Mt Panorama, home of the renowned Bathurst 1000 racing circuit.

Orange offers numerous dog-friendly wineries, with Philip Shaw, Brangayne, and Word of Mouth Wines being at the top of our list. Pair your tasting with a sumptuous grazing platter at Word of Mouth Wines or try something different at another pup-friendly location, Small Acres Cyder.

For a breather, visit Orange's lush Botanic Gardens, Cook Park or Lake Canobolas. And if you're wanting even more adventure, a day trip to the historical towns of Millthorpe and Cowra tick the box. While in Cowra, don't miss the tranquil Japanese Gardens and the Cowra POW Camp heritage site.
And for those hoping to catch a glimpse of snow, keep your eyes peeled! It's rare and fleeting, but this area has been known to enjoy a sprinkling of snowflakes once or twice a year.

#7. Jindabyne & the Snowy Mountains, NSW

Nestled within the Snowy Mountains, Jindabyne is the vibrant hub for NSW's premier ski resorts. While the resorts restrict general dog entry, occasional snowfall blankets the town, presenting perfect opportunities for canine-friendly snow fun.

Jindabyne also offers a plethora of delightful walks with an extensive network of pathways and mountain bike trails. Favourites for taking your dog along include Lake Jindabyne Foreshore Trail, the Mill Creek Trails, and picturesque jaunts around the Jindabyne Dam wall, Copper Tom Point, and Pooh Bay.

The Snowy Mountains region stretches far and wide, making scenic drives an excellent way to experience the area. Venture out to Lake Eucumbene or explore the backroads of the plains — taking in Dalgety, Crackenback, Cooma, or Adaminaby — to hopefully witness stunning, snow-capped vistas.

Water enthusiasts can enjoy fishing or boating on Lake Jindabyne, with gear and boat rentals available around town. However, be advised—its waters remain chilly year-round, so winter swimming is probably best avoided!

To round off your days, savour local flavours at dog-friendly breweries. Jindabyne Brewing, Kosciuszko Brewery, and Dalgety Brewing Company welcome furry companions, making them the perfect spot to unwind.

#8. Blue Mountains, NSW

The Blue Mountains, Sydney's closest winter getaway, may surprise dog lovers. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because there’s a large area of National Park that it’s not worth visiting with your dogs. There are still great things to do here with your dogs including magnificent walks and the tantalising possibility of snowfall.

Embrace the region's majestic scale by visiting dog-friendly lookouts. Echo Point Lookout provides the best view of the iconic Three Sisters. Enjoy distant vistas of the rocks from Eagle Hawk, or watch the sunset over the Megalong Valley from Cahill's Lookout. Sublime Point provides yet more breathtaking panoramas.

Waterfalls you can visit with a hound are plentiful in the area and their winter water volume makes it most spectacular this time of year. 

Dog-friendly trails leading to these natural wonders include South Lawson Waterfall Walk, Horseshoe Falls Walking Track, Terrace Falls Reserve, and Minnehaha Falls Reserve.

Wentworth Falls trail offers gentle strolls around Wentworth Falls Lake Reserve, Charles Darwin Walk, and Water Nymphs Dell. For more green spaces, try the Former Lawson Golf Course, Campbell Rhododendron Gardens, and Katoomba Falls Reserve.

A wealth of dog-friendly dining options exist in the area. Check out Pie in the Sky, Little Paris Café, 2773, Lily's Pad, Leura Garage, and Graze on Main for a delightful culinary experience with your four-legged companion.

#9. New England Region, NSW

The New England region, renowned for its rich history and picturesque landscapes, is our final winter destination. Towns like Tamworth, Tenterfield, Glen Innes and Armidale provide a delightful blend of activities for visitors and their furry friends.

Tamworth, famous as the country music capital, offers several worthy attractions. You can visit the iconic Golden Guitar or explore the Peel River and Bicentennial Park with your dog. Stroll around the Legends of Country Music, featuring bronze statues of music greats, or enjoy panoramic views over Tamworth and the Peel Valley from the elevated Oxley Lookout.

The scenic drive between Tenterfield and Glen Innes is beautiful. In Tenterfield, walk the historic streets and stop by the Tenterfield Saddler (made famous by Peter Allen). Glen Innes boasts the Australian Standing Stones, reflecting the area's Scottish Highland heritage. Consider detouring to Mount Mackenzie Scenic Drive for more stunning vistas.

The region's connection to the last NSW bushranger, Captain Thunderbolt, adds a touch of intrigue. Visit his grave at Uralla’s Pioneer Cemetery, Thunderbolt's Rock, and his statue. Explore Thunderbolt's Hideout on Mt Lindesay Road and Thunderbolt’s Cave near Black Mountain. All with your dog by your side!

Armidale, especially the iconic Gostwyck Chapel, is a must-visit during early winter for lingering autumn hues. Though infrequent, watch for the occasional snowfall to add a magical touch to this region.

Each winter destination brings its unique charm! Whether you fancy a snowball fight with your pup or a serene stroll along a scenic trail, these locales promise memories to be cherished, one pawprint at a time.

All set to embark on your own un-paw-gettable winter adventure…? 
Don't miss out on the ultimate guidebook, 'Dog Tales of Australia: Australia's best destinations for Dog Lovers Unleashed.' 

Packed with invaluable destinations, tips and insights, this book will be your trusted companion as you travelling with your dog.  Get your paws on a copy today and start planning memorable trips with your best buddy!

written by Kerry Martin, June 2023 for Australian Dog Lover.

About Kerry Martin & Puppy Tales

Photodography™ you'll adore - Pet Travel & Adventures you'll Dig

Kerry Martin
of Puppy Tales considers pets very much part of the family so lives this adage to help and inspire fellow pet parents to create incredible memories of a most pawsome life!

Kerry's Melbourne-based but is often on the road throughout Australia offering her award-winning dog photography. She's known for her stunning seasonal photography experiences in amazing locations and her tales of travel adventures with her dogs Keiko & Summer.

Puppy Tales is a business for good with a mission to make a paw-sitive difference. Puppy Tales operates carbon negative; supports many local organisations; and plays a part in the global community’s effort to protect the planet. Kerry’s also the founder of the Australian Dog of the Year Awards which recognises the incredible contribution of dogs to people, communities and society.

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