10 Beautiful Dog-Friendly Gardens in NSW to Visit

Come Spring or Autumn, there’s nothing more delightful than visiting one of the many wonderful gardens located around New South Wales. However, despite being located outdoors, and you’d think a great dog-friendly place to visit, many gardens located in NSW don’t allow pet dogs on their grounds. To help you out, I’ve dug out some of the beautiful dog-friendly gardens in NSW that do allow dogs.

Dog-Friendly Gardens NSW Mayfield Garden

Are Dogs Allowed in the Botanic Gardens?

If you’re referring to the Royal Botanic Garden in the centre of Sydney, unfortunately, the answer is no. Unlike the botanic gardens in other capital cities of Australia that permit dogs, such as Melbourne, Brisbane and Darwin, no dogs are permitted in these harbour side gardens, except for service animals.

This ban on pets also extends to the Australian Botanic Garden in Mount Annan and Blue Mountains Botanic Garden in Mount Tomah.

Many other botanic gardens located around NSW that I have investigated also ban dogs (unlike botanic gardens in other states), although I have uncovered at least one botanical garden that allow dogs to join you…

#1 Orange Botanic Gardens, Orange

Best time to visit: Year round

One of the only botanic garden in NSW that I’ve manage to find that allows dogs are the Orange Botanic Gardens. Dogs are allowed to join you on a visit to these gardens with free admission, as long as they remain on a leash.

The Orange Botanic Gardens were officially opened in 1988 for the Australian Bicentenary and feature a mixture of natives and exotic plants. We particularly enjoyed the small apple orchard and maple hill area (a must-visit location during Autumn), plus there were lots of jonquils flowering when we visited in June.

Dog-Friendly gardens NSW
Beautiful jonquils at the Orange Botanic Gardens
Apple orchard at Orange botanic gardens
The apple orchard area during winter

If you’re visiting during the warmer months, there’s plenty of shaded areas around the billabong. Located on the northern outskirts of Orange, about 3.5 hours west of Sydney, the gardens are open daily from 7:30am to dusk. Allow at least an hour for a stroll around the site.

Check out more recommendations for a dog-friendly visit to Orange

Orange Botanic Gardens dogs
Strolling around the Orange Botanic Gardens in winter

#2 Cowra Japanese Garden, Cowra

Best time to visit: Late September to early October for cherry blossoms, or Autumn for the colourful leaves

The Orange Botanic Gardens aren’t the only beautiful dog-friendly gardens to visit in NSW’s Central West Region. Head just over an hour south to the town of Cowra to visit a garden with a very different feel, the Cowra Japanese Garden.

The Cowra Japanese Garden was built to symbolise the friendship that developed between the town and Japan, after a Prisoner of War Camp in the town during WWII was used to house Japanese Prisoners of War. Since then the gardens have become the largest Japanese gardens in the southern hemisphere.

The Cowra Japanese Garden
The Cowra Japanese Garden is centred around a lake with cascades
Dog-friendly gardens NSW - Cowra Japanese Garden
A touch of Japan in the NSW Central West

This beautiful site features a lake, water cascade and even a tea house pavilion. It’s easy to spend an hour or two wandering around the complete site, especially if you stop to take photos. Afterwards, extend your visit at the adjacent cafe overlooking the grounds.

The gardens are at their most beautiful during the cherry blossom season (usually late September to early October), plus when the many deciduous trees change colour during the Autumn. But the gardens were still beautiful on the sunny winters day that we visited. 

Note that an entry fee applies, except for dogs. Dogs are fine to enter through the gift shop with you, and it’s best that dogs enter the outdoor area of the cafe through the gate on the garden side. Dogs need to stay on a leash.

The Cowra Japanese Garden with dog
Dogs are allowed on-leash in the Cowra Japanese Garden

#3 Mayfield Garden, Oberon

Best time to visit: Year round, especially during the seasonal festivals

One of the most spectacular dog-friendly gardens in NSW is the Mayfield Garden in Oberon. This huge privately run garden has been opened daily to the public since 2017, except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Mayfield is actually two gardens in one: the publicly accessible Mayfield Garden and the larger Hawkins’ Family Garden, which is only open to the public during seasonal festivals four times per year. The Mayfield Garden includes a water garden, a huge collection of maple trees and many follies to explore. The Hawkins’ Family Garden also features an English Box Hedge Maze.

Mayfield Garden
The water garden is part of Mayfield Garden open year round

Allow plenty of time to explore, especially if you are also visiting the Hawkins’ Family Garden. (A minimum of 4 hours is recommended.) Dogs are allowed on a leash, and while dogs bowls are provided in the outdoor areas of the cafe, make sure you bring your own poop bags. The gardens are located 2.75 hours west of Sydney, on the far side of the Blue Mountains.

I visited the gardens during May – perfectly timed to see the colourful display of the maples and other deciduous trees around the water garden. Another popular time to visit is spring, when the blossoms are out on show.

Mayfield Garden with Dog
A colourful visit to Mayfield Garden during May

#4 Campbell Rhododendron Gardens, Blackheath

Best time to visit: Early October to mid-November for the rhododendrons

The Blue Mountains are also a great destination to visit themselves for their many fine gardens. One of the best dog-friendly gardens to visit in the Blue Mountains are the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens in Blackheath.

The highlight of the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens are naturally their huge collection of rhododendrons. These magnificent blooms flower annually between Early October and mid-November, the ideal time of year to visit these gardens. During this period, the Rhodo Tea Rooms are in operation.

However, the gardens are also open year round, with entry to the volunteer-run gardens by donation. Autumn is also a great time to visit, as the gardens contain many maple trees and other deciduous trees, although we found most leaves had fallen by late May.

Campbell Rhododendron Gardens with dog
Autumn colour in the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens
Walking in Campbell Rhododendron Gardens
Strolling through the Campbell Rhododendron Gardens in late Autumn

Dogs need to stay on a leash during your visit to these gardens. Blackheath is about 1.75 hours west of the centre of Sydney.

#5 Breenhold Gardens, Mount Wilson

Best time to visit: Spring and Autumn

The rhododendron gardens are not the only dog-friendly gardens in the Blue Mountains. Head over to Mount Wilson off the Bells Line of Road for the Breenhold Gardens, another garden that allows dogs.

The Breenhold Gardens are one of the most extensive privately owned gardens in Australia. The gardens are over 45 hectares in size and contain thousands of exotic and native species planted over the last 40 years.

The focal point of the gardens are six stone walled gardens, some with pools and fountains. In late August thousands of daffodils and jonquils bloom on the lawns, while there’s also walks through the avenues of pine trees and along terraced bush trails, leading to lookouts overlooking the Blue Mountains National Park.

The gardens are open seasonally, generally opening daily during Spring and Autumn. Check the website for the latest opening dates and entry fees. Dogs are welcome on a leash, and the gardens are just under 2 hours west of the centre of Sydney.

Check out more recommendations for a dog-friendly visit to the Blue Mountains

#6 Illawarra Grevillea Park, Bulli

Best time to visit: Any of their open days, in Autumn, Winter and Spring

For a stunning collection of native Australian blooms, head south of Sydney to the Illawarra Grevillea Park in Bulli, about 70 minutes south of the centre of Sydney.

This 2.4 hectare park maintained by volunteers contains a rich collection of Australian grevilleas and other native species, including wattles and orchids. There’s also a wonderful small rainforest area.

Illawarra Grevillea Park with dog
The Illawarra Grevillea Park has a magnificent collection of grevilleas

To find out when the park is next open, head to their website or Facebook page. They are generally open about six weekends per year, in Autumn, Winter and Spring. A small entry fee is charged, plus native plants for sale.

Pick up or download the pamphlet with directions for a self-guide tour, pointing out the many diverse species of grevilleas. Allow at least an hour to explore the gardens, and make sure you keep your dog on a leash.

Illawarra Grevillea Park
Grevilleas of every colour
Illawarra Grevillea Park with leashed dog
Leashed dogs are welcome at the Illawarra Grevillea Park

#7 Wendy’s Secret Garden, Lavenders Bay

Best time to visit: Year round

While the majority of these other gardens are located outside of Sydney, although some can be visited on a day trip, for a dog-friendly garden right in Sydney head to Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden.

Wendy’s Secret Garden is located in Lavender Bay, close to North Sydney station. While there aren’t any signs pointing you towards the gardens, in an attempt to preserve their secrecy, the gardens have become increasingly popular in recent years.

Wendy's Secret Garden
Wendy’s Secret Garden is a gem nestled near the centre of Sydney
Flowers at Wendy's Secret Garden
Flowering displays at Wendy’s Secret Garden

Originally a plot of unused railway land, the gardens were established over recent decades by Wendy Whiteley, the wife of the painter Brett Whiteley, who lives in the adjacent house. Paths wind through the garden, nestled amongst tall trees that help preserve a sense of privacy within.

In line with other parks and reserves in the North Sydney council area, dogs are allowed off leash in the garden, although Wendy kindly requests that they don’t run through garden beds and you clean up after them. The garden is a great spot to visit combined with a walk along the foreshore down past Luna Park to Milsons Point.

Steps at Wendy's Secret Garden
Uncovering the secrets of Wendy’s Secret Garden

#8 Wistaria Gardens, Westmead

Best time to visit: September

Another delightful dog-friendly garden in Sydney are the Wistaria Gardens. These gardens are located at the northern end of Parramatta Park, the large parklands on the edge of the Parramatta CBD.

Wistaria Gardens Parramatta Park
The colourful Wistaria Gardens in Parramatta Park

These historic gardens were originally established over 100 years ago and up until July 2022 they were part of the Cumberland Hospital precinct (and I’m not sure if they were open to the public). However, they’re now part of Parramatta Park and publicly accessible, all day long, including to dogs on leashes.

The gardens are named for their arches of wisteria (but with an added “star”), the beautiful purple blossom flowering every spring. Visit during early to mid September for the best displays, with special events held to coincide with these weekends.

Wisteria at Wistaria Gardens
The remaining wisteria flowers during my visit

When I visited in late September not many wisteria flowers remained, but the rows of blossom trees were stunning! Definitely an ideal spot to visit for colourful photos with your pup.

#9 Chang Lai Garden, Doonside

Best time to visit: Year round

A delightful dog-friendly garden in part of the Western Sydney Parklands adjacent to Doonside is the Chang Lai Garden. This Chinese garden, created in partnership with sister city Laiocheng, is small but stunning.

A highlight of the garden are the traditional Chinese constructions: a gate, bridge, gazebo and pavilion. There is also a lake, with a delightful waterfall cascading down into it from next to the gazebo.

Chang Lai Garden
The gate and pavilion at Chang Lai Garden

As the plants are not the main focus of the garden, it’s a wonderful spot to visit year round, also the home to annual Lunar New Year celebrations. Dogs need to be kept on a leash, plus not that swimming in the lakes are not permitted.

#10 Tulip Top Gardens, Sutton

Best time to visit: Mid-September to mid-October each year

Finally, I want to share another beautiful garden that is only open for a month each year – Tulip Top Gardens. These beautiful gardens are located in Sutton, just off the Federal Highway between Sydney and Canberra, not long before you cross the ACT border.

Tulip Top Gardens
The beautiful Tulip Top Gardens © Tulip Top Gardens

Tulip Top Gardens is most famous for its mass plantings of tulips, plus other spring flowers. Due to this they are only open for a limited time each year. The exact dates may vary, but they currently plan to open in 2024 from Wednesday 11th September to Sunday 13th October.

An entry fee is charged to the gardens ($22 during 2023 for adults), payable at the gate. Dogs are welcome to accompany you on leash for free, although there is a limit of two dogs per person. During 2023, facilities on site included a cafe serving up barista coffee and Dutch pancakes, and live music on selected dates.

If you’re heading to Canberra for a spring visit with your pup, including the final dog-friendly day at the end of Floriade, detour along the way to Tulip Top Gardens.

Etiquette for Visiting a Garden with Your Dog

While visiting these gardens with your dog, make sure that your dog is on their best behaviour, so that these gardens can remain dog-friendly.

Nearly all of these gardens that allow dogs require that dogs are kept on a leash. In particular, I recommend a fairly short leash, so that they stay by your side and under your supervision. This is not the time for running around, save that for an off-leash dog exercise area.

Always make sure you carry poop bags, in case you need to clean up after your dog, and don’t let your dog dig, especially in garden beds.

Best of all, enjoy your visit together, and may your dog have plenty of interesting smells to sniff!

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

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.

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2 thoughts on “10 Beautiful Dog-Friendly Gardens in NSW to Visit”

  1. We noticed on your article on gardens friendly to dogs not mentioning BEBEAH Gardens first one to allow dogs in as early as year 2000.
    Our dog Benny was always happy to see the visitors companions


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