Less than two hours south of Sydney, the coastal region around Kiama and Gerringong is perfect for a quick getaway from Sydney. With beautiful beaches, rolling green countryside and some spectacular natural scenery, it has plenty on offer, including lots of dog-friendly options. Read on to find out about my recommendations for a dog-friendly getaway to the Kiama and Gerringong…
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Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Kiama and Gerringong
The majority of the local council-owned Kiama Coast Holiday Parks in Kiama and Gerringong are seasonally pet-friendly. This includes Surf Beach Holiday Park, Kendalls on the Beach Holiday Park, Werri Beach Holiday Park and Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park. (The exception is Kiama Harbour Cabins.) Pets are welcome on both powered and unpowered sites, although only outside of NSW school holidays and long weekends.
My pick out of the caravan parks is Werri Beach Holiday Park. This park has three pet-friendly cabins, in addition to pets being allowed on powered and unpowered sites. The caravan park is also walking distance to some of the great pet-friendly spots I’ve listed below, including an off-leash section of beach, an off-leash park, and a great dog-friendly walk.
If you’d prefer something a little more secluded and rustic for your getaway, consider Ooaree Farm Cabin listed on Airbnb in Rose Valley, just inland from Gerringong. Located on a working farm, the cabin is adorable and features an outdoor bath tub. It’s typically listed for $125 per night for a couple, with an additional one-off dog fee of $30.
There’s also plenty of great beach houses available in the area for a more luxe stay, especially if you are part of a larger group. Consider The Werri Shack in Gerringong, which sleeps up to eight guests across three bedrooms. There’s plenty of outdoor space for lazing around, along wth a gas BBQ, table tennis and more. Always check in advance that your dog is allowed and any rules for your dog.
Dog-Friendly Beaches in Kiama and Gerringong
The Kiama and Gerringong region is home to three dog-friendly beaches: Jones Beach in Kiama Downs, Bombo Beach just north of Kiama, and Werri Beach in Gerringong.
However, make sure you check out the relevant maps, because only parts of the beach allow dogs. With Bombo Beach and Werri Beach, dogs are allowed off leash in the centre of the beach. With Jones Beach, the off leash section is at the south of the beach.
Dogs are permitted off leash from sunrise to sunset, and need to be walked on a leash to access the off-leash sections. The full rules and maps are available on the council website, plus displayed on multiple signs at each beach, including signage about where to enter the dog-friendly sections.
Dog-Friendly Parks in Kiama and Gerringong
The above council website also details the off-leash parks available in the area. From north to south the off-leash parks are Minnamurra Headland, Bombo Beach Headland, Kaleula Reserve in Kiama, Marsden Headland in Kiama, Gerringong Headland and Black Head in Gerroa.
Out of the ones that I’ve visited, Bombo Beach Headland is particularly good. Although the area isn’t entirely fenced, it’s on an isolated headland and there’s no roads nearby, except at the carpark. There’s plenty of room to run around and a handful of agility equipment, too.
No matter where you’re staying in the region, an off-leash area shouldn’t be too far away. Once again, maps are available on the website plus displayed prominently on signs around the areas. Note that your dog should only be allowed off-leash if it is sociable and returns reliably when called.
Dog-Friendly Cafes in Kiama and Gerringong
There’s plenty of cafes in Kiama and Gerringong with outdoor seating, the majority of which allow well-behaved dogs to join you, although I always recommend asking in advance.
While visiting the Kiama Blowhole, we visited Diggies Kiama. A recently opened outpost of the popular Diggies brunch spot in North Wollongong, it has a large area of outdoor seating.
While the dine-in cafe hadn’t yet reopened following the coronavirus pandemic, its takeaway van was operating. Options included coffees, pastries and hot breakfast items. I highly recommend their egg and bacon roll.
Heading inland to the rolling green countryside of Jamberoo, visit the historic Jamberoo Pub for lunch with your pup. I’ve heard from multiple sources that dogs are welcome to join you inside, as well as in the outdoor seating area. (Note: I’ve also heard recently that with the current pandemic situation, dogs are temporarily not allowed.)
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Kiama and Gerringong
It’s not just off-leash dog beaches and parks that are in plentiful supply in the Kiama and Gerringong region, with plenty of the area’s most popular sightseeing experiences allowing dogs to join you. Don’t miss the following!
1. Visit the Kiama Blowhole
Kiama is synonymous with its blowhole. Situated on the point at the end of Kiama’s main street, the blowhole is best visited when the seas are a bit higher, with larger waves, to experience the boom and spray flying up high.
Dogs are welcome to walk with you on a leash all over the Blowhole Point, including next to the blowhole. Just be warned that neither dogs or humans should venture beyond the fences and signs, as the conditions on the surrounding rock platforms can be dangerous.
2. Walk the Kiama Coast Walk
One of the best dog-friendly walks I’ve discover anywhere in NSW is the Kiama Coast Walk. The walk extends from Minnamurra in the north nearly 20km south to Werri Beach at Gerringong. There’s no need to walk the entire length, with a multitude of access points making plenty of shorter options.
The entire length of the walk is dog-friendly, with dogs on a leash allowed, except for some of the beaches along the route that prohibit dogs. Check out the signs (as there are some beach sections where dogs are allowed off-leash), and walk on the street behind the beach as necessary.
If you’re walking with a dog you also unfortunately can’t make use of the local train line to return to your starting point, a popular option, with dogs not allowed on trains.
We choose to walk the southernmost section of the walk, starting at the north of Werri Beach. This section follows the cliffs in between Gerringong and Kiama, beautiful views of the sea on one side, green paddocks on the other. The path is wide and grassy, and the many dogs we passed were all on leash, at least when passing other dogs.
The only potential hiccup with hiking this section of the walk is that Werri Lagoon sometimes joins to the sea following heavy rain. So you may need to remove your shoes and wade across, or head to another section of the walk.
We also noticed a confusing sign prohibiting dogs when we walked onto the northern end of Werri Beach, to reach the starting point of the walk next to Werri Lagoon. As the maps located elsewhere show, dogs are allowed to walk on a leash across the beach to the start of the walk. Just ignore this sign, but minimise your time on the beach.
Naturally, the Kiama Coast Walk also passes by the Kiama Blowhole, around the middle of its length, and further north it passes Cathedral Rocks.
3. Visit Cathedral Rocks
Another spectacular feature of the local coastline is Cathedral Rocks. These rocky outcrops are located just south of Jones Beach in Kiama Downs. The rocks are best explored at low tide with low seas, via the end of the beach. As the southern section of Jones Beach is dog-friendly, your dog can join in the adventures, but always be careful about the tides and waves.
If the seas are higher like on the day we visited, glimpses of the rocks are best appreciated from the south side, at the southern end of Cliff Drive, near Boneyard Beach. In this case, I recommend walking further along the adjacent section of the Kiama Coast Walk, over to the artificially formed rock formations at Bombo Headland Quarry and the surrounding off-leash dog park.
4. Taste the Local Wine
The south coast region of NSW is home to a number of excellent wineries, and the northernmost is Crooked River Wines, located on the hills behind Gerringong. Established around 20 years ago, it’s a family-run winery that has won multiple awards for its premium red and white wines.
The cellar door is open from Tuesday to Sunday, with well-behaved dogs welcome to join you, at least during quieter periods like when we visited. A small fee applies for tastings, redeemable against a purchase. The green rolling grass out the door with its views across the vines is a gorgeous spot to relax. There’s also a restaurant on-site, that will hopefully reopen soon.
5. Try to Spot a Whale
Twice a year, whales can be spotted from the cliffs around Kiama, making their way north and then returning home to the waters off Antarctica.
To try and catch sight of them, head to the Gerringong Whale Watching Platform. Located at Gerringong Headland, the surrounding area is an off-leash dog park, so your dog is welcome to join you.
Alternatively, if you’re walking the Kiama Coast Walk, keep an eye out during your walk for tell-tale splashes out to sea, particularly on the more elevated sections of the walk.
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