The historic town of Beechworth in north east Victoria is a charming destination for visitors, both of the two-legged and four-legged kind. With historic remains and plenty of walks to explore, find out more about visiting Beechworth with a dog.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Beechworth
Whether you’re visiting for the day, a weekend or longer, add some of these dog-friendly things to do in Beechworth to your itinerary.
1. Explore the Historic Buildings
One of the highlights of Beechworth is its wealth of historic buildings. In pride of place are the row of honey granite buildings in the Historic and Cultural Precinct opposite the Visitor Information Centre. Built in the late 1850s, they are regarded as the finest group of provincial public buildings in Victoria.
Don’t also miss seeing the Stone Lock Up in the rear of the precinct, where Ned Kelly was once locked up. Another fine public building from the same period is the HM Prison Beechworth, just a short distance along the road, which was only decommissioned in December 2004.
I recommend picking up the Self Guided Walking Tour brochure from the Visitor Information Centre, for the small fee of $1, and using it to guide yourself and your pup on a tour around town. Naturally, dogs are not allowed inside most of the buildings, but there’s nothing stopping you both from entering the Stone Lock Up.
2. Follow the Gorge Scenic Drive
Adjacent to the historic town of Beechworth is the Beechworth Historic Park. The park includes many of the old mining sites from around Beechworth, set in beautiful bushland, and dogs are allowed in the park on a leash.
One of the easiest way to see some of the highlights in the park is on the 5km-long Gorge Scenic Drive. Head north along the Wodonga Road for the start of the one-way road, which is mainly sealed.
Along the way, stop at the main sights, including the magnificent Powder Magazine building. Used to hold gunpowder for mining operations and now listed by the National Trust, it’s free to enter the grounds, with no prohibition on your dog joining you.
It’s also worthwhile stopping at Spring Creek Bridge, where you can also follow a short trail to the Cascades. Don’t also miss seeing the Rocky Mountain tunnel and tail race under Newtown Bridge at the end of the drive. A brochure with a map is available at the Visitor Information Centre in town.
Note that the gorge road is currently closed between the Powder Magazine and Pritchard Lane, due to concerns over Spring Creek Bridge. Pedestrians are also not allowed to cross Spring Creek Bridge. Check the website for the latest updates, but it is not expected to reopen anytime soon.
3. Or Hike the Gorge Walk
If you’d prefer to see the sights along the Gorge Scenic Drive at a slower pace, it’s also possible to walk along the drive (or cycle). Starting from the Visitor Information Centre, the full loop on foot is 7.3km. Alternatively, for a shorter version, head along Camp Street directly to the Powder Magazine.
There’s a total of 12km of walking trail within the Historic Park, including the walking trail from Spring Creek Bridge to Woolshed Falls. The trail passes the Cascades, a series of waterfalls, then passes through the Reids Creek Goldfield, once one of the richest goldfields in the area. However, dogs aren’t allowed to continue all the way to Woolshed Falls, which are located in a national park. Also be aware of the deep mine shafts that still dot the area, so keep to the tracks.
4. Visit the Chinese Gardens
Beechworth was once home to a significant population of Chinese miners, so many that a Chinese Protector’s Office was established. These days there’s not many signs remaining of this significant group, except for the establishment of the Beechworth Chinese Gardens close to where they lived to honour their memory.
While small, it’s still a pretty and peaceful spot to have a stroll, with an elaborate stone bridge, pavilion and series of ponds. For a longer walk, also visit the adjacent Beechworth Bush Botanic Gardens.
5. Visit Lake Sambell
Close to the Chinese Gardens is Lake Sambell. Not originally a lake, it was in fact the site of an open cut sluice operation during the heyday of the gold mining era. However, after the town won the Ideal Towns competition in 1928, the funds were used dam the site and create a recreational reserve.
Perhaps go for a walk around the lake, with the 2km-long loop trail taking about 40 minutes. Dogs on a leash are permitted. Alternatively, it’s a popular trout fishing spot or during warmer weather, the ideal spot for a swim.
6. Taste Some Local Wine
Surrounding Beechworth is the Beechworth Wine Region, with nearly 30 wineries in the area. Many are open to the public for tasting, with quite a few welcoming four-legged guests to join you, at least in outdoor areas.
Right in the heart of Beechworth is the Eldorado Road Cellar Door Cantina. Open from Friday to Monday, both wine tasting and small plates are on the menu, and well-behaved dogs are welcome in the courtyard and at the street tables.
Alternatively, head out of town to Indigo Vineyard. The cellar door is open daily for wine tasting, plus grazing platters and pizzas are available from Friday to Sunday. Enquire about pet-friendly options when making a booking.
Dog-Friendly Walks in Beechworth
There’s no shortage of walks to do with your dog in and around Beechworth. As a starting point, I recommend checking out the Walk booklet compiled by the Indigo Shire Council, which can be downloaded here. Handily, there’s a paw-print symbol next to all walks that permit on-leash dogs.
Some of the walks I’ve already covered above, including the Gorge Scenic Walk and the loop around Lake Sambell. There’s also plenty of walks around town, or head to the grounds of the Mayday Hills Hospital, originally the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, for a variety of short walks.
For a longer walk, follow the Lake Sambell to Lake Kerferd Walk. This walk passes through Eucalypt forest for 5km each way, returning by the same track. Along the way, keep an eye out for koalas, wombats and wallabies, as well as disused mining shafts – it’s best to keep to the track.
Another option for walking as well as cycling is the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail, which starts in Beechworth just near Lake Sambell. Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they are kept on a leash, plus keep to the side to allow cyclists to pass.
Dog-Friendly Parks in Beechworth
There’s just one off-leash dog park in Beechworth, the Baarmutha Park Recreation Reserve on the northeastern side of town. Note that the area is shared with a golf course. In 2021 there were discussions to move the off-leash area to another park, but there have been no changes, although the facilities at Baarmutha Park may be improved as part of a new masterplan.
There’s generally one off-leash dog exercise area in the other major towns in the area. Double check the latest list on the local council website.
Dog-Friendly Pubs & Cafes in Beechworth
There’s a wide variety of pet-friendly dining options in Beechworth. One of the most popular spots is Bridge Road Brewers. Located in an historic coach house in the centre of town, they have a huge pet-friendly courtyard. Open daily for lunch and dinner, as well as 20 rotating taps of house-brewed beers, they also offer pizza and a variety of local wines.
For a different type of brewery, head to the historic Billson’s Brewery, on one of the backstreets of Beechworth. Brewing a wide range of spirits and non-alcoholic traditional cordials onsite, while pet dogs will need to skip the tour, they are welcome to join you in the beer garden, open daily. Don’t miss tasting a selection of their drinks, plus enjoying lunch.
Beechworth also has no shortage of pubs, although probably not as many as during its gold mining heyday. Hotel Nicholas on the corner of Albert Road has a dog-friendly beer garden (along with a kid’s play area), while Tanswells Commercial Hotel on Ford Street has dog-friendly tables out the front.
Alternatively, head to the original Beechworth Bakery, located right in the middle of Beechworth. There’s tables outside on the footpath with dog water bowls, or grab some takeaway and enjoy at one of the many parks around town.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Beechworth
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There’s no shortage of dog-friendly accommodation options in Beechworth.
For starters, both caravan parks in Beechworth are dog-friendly. We stayed at the Beechworth Holiday Park, a peaceful spot located a short distance outside of town, half-way along the dog-friendly walking track to Lake Kerferd.
Dogs are allowed on sites (with prior approval) outside of the Easter long weekend, plus in selected pet-friendly studios and cottages (double check which ones are pet-friendly when booking online, with the number of pet-friendly options recently increasing). There’s also a handy K9000 dog wash.
The other caravan park in town is the Beechworth Lake Sambell Caravan Park. They have a large number of powered and unpowered sites, with pets allowed on sites year round. They also have multiple pet-friendly Studio and Budget cabins – enquire directly with the park. Pets are allowed inside, but not on the beds, plus at least some have an enclosed verandah.
For something more luxurious yet pet-friendly, check out Belmont at Beechworth, a gorgeous two-bedroom cottage in the heart of Beechworth. Fully self-contained with a complimentary breakfast hamper supplied for your first morning, up to two dogs are allowed, including inside on the rear tiled area. There’s a fully fenced yard.
Further out of town, another tempting pet-friendly option are the Woolshed Cabins. Dogs are allowed to stay for free in all but one of the two-bedroom cabins. There’s a limit of one dog per cabin, with dogs restricted to the enclosed verandah during the day, but able to sleep inside overnight. Best of all there’s 12 acres to explore onsite, including a seasonal dam, with dogs allowed off-leash away from the cabins.
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About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.