Planning to head to the Far South Coast towns of Bermagui, Tathra, Merimbula, Pambula or Eden with your dog? Also known as the Sapphire Coast for the beautifully hued water, this area has plenty of dog-friendly options, from off-leash beaches to interesting walks to places to stay. Read on to find out more…
Dog-Friendly Accommodation on the Far South Coast
Most of the dog-friendly accommodation options in the Far South Coast region are caravan parks, including some pet-friendly cabins, with a few options available in most towns in the region.
During our visit to the Far South Coast with our dog we stayed at Tathra Beachside, a very pet-friendly caravan park located in the town of Tathra. It’s a fairly fancy caravan park, with plenty of facilities available, including the “Beach Barn” camp kitchen area. The downside though is it was the most expensive caravan park we stayed at on the South Coast.
Pets are welcome in the park nearly all year long, except between 26th December and 9th January, on both sites and in designated cottages and villas. The Pet-Friendly Cottages are two-bedroom, sleeping up to five, and feature a fenced garden with kennel. The Pet-Friendly Villas are slightly larger, sleeping up to six with two pairs of bunks, but don’t have an enclosed yard. Both allow pets inside, although not on the carpeted areas or on the beds. (See the full Pet Policy.)
The caravan park is next to Tathra Beach, with the 24-hour off-leash area starting at the northern end of the caravan park. When accessing the beach from the walkways in the park, keep your dog on leash until you reach the end of the park. And conveniently, there’s a dog wash located in the laundry (fee applies), perfect for sandy dogs!
Further south in Merimbula, I’ve heard plenty of recommendations for Beach Cabins Merimbula. As the name suggests, the park just contains cabins, and welcomes pets except for during the peak periods of January and Easter week. The cabins are located at Short Point, right next to an off-leash park and on-leash beach.
The cabins available range from studios to three-bedroom in size, with facilities on site including a swimming pool, BBQs and outdoor dining area. Only selected cabins are pet-friendly, so it’s best to book directly. There is a maximum of two pets per cabin, with only small dogs permitted in studios. An additional cleaning fee of $30 per stay applies. (See the full Pet Policy.)
Two other pet-friendly options in Merimbula are the Sapphire Valley Caravan Park and Merimbula Lake Holiday Park. The former accepts pets all year round, except for during the Christmas school holidays, on both powered sites and in the pet-friendly Hideaway Cabins. The latter caravan park, a member of Kui Parks, allows pets all year round on its many powered and unpowered sites (just not in their cabins).
Further south in Eden, two great pet-friendly caravan parks are the Reflections Holiday Parks Eden and Garden of Eden Caravan Park. Reflections is located next to the off-leash Aslings Beach, with dogs permitted on sites and in selected cabins except between 20th December and 10th January.
The family-run Garden of Eden Caravan Park is pet-friendly on sites, except for during the peak Christmas period. It is next to the Lake Curalo Boardwalk and has pet washing and grooming facilities on site.
Dog-Friendly Dining Out on the Far South Coast
A must on the Far South Coast is sampling some of the delicious local seafood. There’s many local outlets selling takeaway, not to mention local cafes and restaurants that feature it on the menu.
In Bermagui we headed to the Blue Wave Seafood Shop at the Bermagui Fisherman’s Wharf. The fish’n’chips were very fresh and tasty, plus the crumbed calamari was some of the most tender we’d tasted.
I recommend taking a seat on the benches along the wharf to enjoy your takeaway, meanwhile watching the action at the busy marina or trying to spot stingrays down below in the water. Also at the Fisherman’s Wharf is the dog-friendly Bermagui Gelati Clinic.
My favourite oysters that I sampled on the South Coast were purchased at McKay’s Oysters, just outside of Pambula. They were also quite cheap, although don’t expect any lemon on the side and it’s cash only. For a fancier experience, drop by Wheeler’s just up the road, with dogs on a leash welcome in both the al fresco Takeaway and Oyster Bar areas.
For a great brunch option, we headed to Wild Orchid Cafe in Tathra, just opposite the Tathra Beachside caravan park. Open for both breakfast and lunch daily (plus takeaway coffees all day long), it’s lovely and relaxed with plenty of outdoor seats. The bowls look particularly gorgeous, although only a limited menu was available during our visit.
More local cafes that are dog-friendly in the area include Bermi’s Beachside Cafe in Bermagui, the Waterfront Cafe in Merimbula, Ollie Mason’s Cafe and Wine Bar in Eden (re-opening 1st September) and Finny’s By the Wharf in Eden.
I also have to recommend two great breweries in the local area. Camel Rock Brewery in located at Wallaga Lake, near the famous Camel Rock formation (which is unfortunately not dog-friendly, except from a distance). The beer is best enjoyed at the on-site bar and restaurant, which has a huge dog-friendly outdoor area (except for a small dog-free section). The menu is laidback Americana, with plenty of burgers and wings.
Further south in Pambula is Longstocking Brewery. The brewery is located within the Oaklands complex, also home to a garden centre and cafe. As well as tasting paddles and an oyster bar, wood-fired pizzas are available on Friday and Saturday nights, when bookings are essential. Otherwise dine at the outdoor tables of the adjacent cafe. I highly recommend the ciders, with takeaway bottles available.
Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Far South Coast
The Far South Cost is located in the Bega Valley Shire Council area, which has designated eleven beaches as 24-hour off-leash areas. Most of the remaining council-run beaches allow dogs on-leash, except for a few protected areas and patrolled beaches during the swimming season. Note also that many beaches in the region are located in national parks, where dogs are not permitted.
The off-leash beaches on the Far South Coast are, from north to south:
Haywards Beach at Wallaga Lake: Dogs are allowed off-leash along a one-kilometre section south from the start of the Camel Rock access road to the Old Tilba Road. A very large broad beach with plenty of room to run, there’s distant views of Camel Rock, although note that dogs aren’t allowed up to the rocks past the access point. (Dogs are also not allowed at Murunna Point, where Horse Head Rock is located.)
Moorhead Beach at Bermagui: The first two hundred metres of this fairly small, exposed beach on the northern side of the Bermagui River is off-leash, adjacent to the break-wall. The best access is from Wapengo Street.
Beares Beach at Bermagui: A good beach on the southern side of Bermagui. The entire length is dog-friendly, include the section next to Scenic Drive.
Southern Cuttagee Beach at Cuttagee: This quiet isolated beach is located south of Bermagui, adjacent to the main road. Most of the beach is dog-friendly, up until the area around Cuttagee Creek and the bridge, where dogs are prohibited. A carpark is located at the southern end.
Tathra Beach at Tathra: A long surf beach on the northern side Tathra. The dog-friendly section starts at the northern end of the caravan park (there’s a small carpark) and extends north to either the entrance to the Country Club or the Lions Park (depending on whether you read the guidelines or look at the map). Double check the signage around the northern end.
Tura Beach at Tura Beach: Named as “Short Point Beach” on Google Maps, the off-leash section is in between the carpark off Pacific Way, accessible in between houses 204 and 206, and the Short Point Beach Carpark, just south of the golf course. A large sandy windswept beach.
Bar Beach at Merimbula: This is a great sheltered spot to head with your dog, except for between 10am and 4pm from December to April when dogs are prohibited. Head to the Bar Beach Kiosk; the off-leash section is immediately in front and extends about 200m towards Spencer Park. Note that the sand flats in front of Spencer Park are on-leash only.
Merimbula Main Beach at Merimbula: The majority of this long sandy surf beach is dog-friendly except for the northernmost section, from Dunns Lane to south of Merimbula Airport.
Lions Park Beach at Pambula Beach: This fairly small off-leash beach is located next to the Lions Park. It’s a fairly safe spot to let your dog off leash, with no easy access except for the one walkway. Don’t get it confused with the Pambula River Beach around the headland, although dogs are allowed on-leash in this sheltered spot.
Aslings Beach at Eden: On the northern side of Eden, this gorgeous beach is a lovely long stretch of sand to walk with your dog or find your own spot to play. The off-leash section extends north from the skate park to the far end of the Reflections Holidays Park Eden (see above), plus dogs are also allowed off-leash on the footpath in between the caravan park and the sand. Keep an eye out for dolphins just off shore.
Keith’s Pinch Beach at Eden: This small beach is located south of Eden near the Twofold Bay Yacht Club. Very sheltered inside the bay, search for the alternative name “Bungo Beach” on Google Maps.
Further details of both off-leash and protected areas are available on the council website, including maps. Some of the protected ares include Murunna Point (where Horse Head Rock is located) and both Tathra and Merimbula Wharves.
Dog-Friendly Parks on the Far South Coast
As well as off-leash beaches, there’s also a number of off-leash reserves where dogs can exercise on the Far South Coast. The latest details are on the council website.
In Bermagui, head to the Headland Reserve, in between Pacific Drive and “Point Dickinson” on Google Maps, adjacent to the War Memorial. The reserve is a large grassy area edged by sea cliffs.
Close to Merimbula, head to Short Point Recreation Reserve at the end of Short Point Road. The off-leash area is bounded by the holiday park and the cliffs. Keep an eye out for whales from the lookout during migration season.
Alternatively, if you’re in Bega, head to the Old Bega Racecourse, at the end of East Street. The whole racecourse plus a section running next to the river to the south is off-leash, except for during special events.
Dog-Friendly Walks on the Far South Coast
The Far South Coast is a relatively remote and pristine area, despite the many holiday towns dotted along it. For this reason, many stretches of the coastline are national park. This means many of the most popular walking tracks and spots to visit are out of bound for dogs, but I’ve managed to find some great dog-friendly walks scattered throughout the region.
One of my favourite walks was the Merimbula Boardwalk, which was very popular on the sunny day we visited. The boardwalk follows the northern edge of Merimbula Lake, west of the bridge. Either park on the western side of the bridge or in the carpark on Lakewood Drive.
The Boardwalk is about 2km long in each direction (including a few short lengths of footpath in between the boardwalk sections), and is a leisurely 1-2 hour stroll. Along the way you’ll pass some of the local oyster farms plus signs about the local marine life and vegetation. Dogs must be kept on a leash.
Eden is also home to the Lake Curalo Boardwalk, around Lake Curalo behind Aslings Beach. The boardwalk and walking trail starts just behind Aslings Beach on the northern side of the skate park, then continues for 3km to the northern side of the estuary mouth. As there is no bridge across the estuary mouth to return back to the starting point, the total walk is 6km return.
Along the way keep your eye out for the plentiful birdlife, including the swans, ducks and swamp hens who call this tidal lake home. Alternative starting points include Lakeside Drive and just north of Garden of Eden Caravan Park (see above). Dogs need to be kept on leash, but you can combine it with an off-leash walk along Aslings Beach.
To the north in Tathra multiple walks are on offer. We completed the short but scenic Tathra Headland Walk. The walk starts next to the historic Tathra Wharf (where dogs are not permitted) and loops up and around the headland. It’s a great spot to spot whales, either heading north during June and July, or back south in September to October. There’s also lots of interesting signs about the local history, both Aboriginal and white. Dogs are permitted on leash.
Just inland of Tathra Beach is the Tathra Forest Wildlife Reserve. There’s multiple walks available through the reserve, varying in length from 2 to 4km. The Main Ridge Walking Trail is accessible from the end of Dilkera Road, but it’s best to start at the carpark on Thompson Drive. There were no signs about dogs, so I presume on-leash dogs are permitted. Be prepared for steep sections along some tracks.
More Dog-Friendly Sightseeing on the Far South Coast
One of the most popular attractions on the Far South Coast is the Eden Killer Whale Museum. The museum explores the history of whaling in the town, including the story of Old Tom, the Killer Whale who assisted the whalers and whose skeleton is on display. While dogs are naturally not allowed inside the museum, it’s worthwhile checking out the tile murals outside of the museum, the “Cavalcade of Twofold Bay History”.
Fortunately, the number of whales who migrate this stretch of coastline is now increasing. Some of the best dog-friendly lookouts for spotting whales include Eden Lookout, Short Point in Merimbula and Tathra Headland.
If you’re heading north, check out more ideas for a dog-friendly visit to Narooma.
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