Dog-Friendly Newcastle: Visiting Newcastle with a Dog

Just a short 2 hour drive north of Sydney, the city of Newcastle has plenty of fun options for those visiting with a dog, from dog-friendly beaches to waterside walks. Find out more about what it’s like to visit Newcastle with a dog…

Dog-Friendly Newcastle

Dog-Friendly Beaches in Newcastle

There’s multiple dog-friendly beaches in the Newcastle and adjacent Lake Macquarie areas, although naturally the most popular swimming beaches are out of bounds for pet dogs.

The closest dog-friendly beach to the centre of Newcastle is Horseshoe Beach. This smallish beach is just inside Nobbys Head, on the harbour side of the peninsula from the popular Nobbys Beach. It’s hemmed in by the dune area behind it, so ideal for letting dogs off-leash, and there’s a convenient large carpark at the western end. 

Horseshoe Beach with Dog
The dog-friendly Horseshoe Beach near the centre of Newcastle
Horseshoe Beach
The calm waters of Horseshoe Beach

Just across the harbour from Horseshoe Beach is Stockton, home to two more dog-friendly beaches. On the eastern side of Stockton, dogs are allowed off-leash at the Pitt Street Reserve. This area includes Little Beach, just south of the main Stockton Beach. It’s a calm small beach, great for a walk or doggie swim, and generally quieter than Horseshoe Beach.

Little Beach with Dog
Head to Little Beach in Stockton
Little Beach Stockton
The view of Nobbys Lighthouse from Little Beach

On the other side of the Stockton peninsula is Ballast Ground. This large off-leash parkland along the water is mainly edged with oyster-encrusted rocks, but there’s a small section of dog-friendly beach near the 16ft Sailing Skiff Club.

Ballast Ground Beach
The small beach at Ballast Ground

For another dog-friendly swimming spot on hot days, the off-leash Islington Park is conveniently located next to a creek. Others report that dogs can swim here, although I didn’t check out this location. 

Heading further south to the Lake Macquarie region, there’s three off-leash dog ocean beaches, where dogs are allowed on the sand all day long.

The northernmost is the Nine Mile Beach Off-Leash Area at Redhead, with dogs allowed off-leash in between Second and Third Creeks. The best access point is the small carpark on Cain Street, where there’s also a convenient map. Note that dogs must remain on leash on the access paths, plus in creeks, waterholes and in between First and Second Creeks. Dogs are prohibited north of First Creek at the patrolled beach.

Off-Leash Nine Mile Beach
The long off-leash section of Nine Mile Beach at Redhead

Further south on Nine Mile Beach is the Blacksmiths Beach Off-Leash Area. The off-leash area starts at Awabakal Avenue and extends north to the Belmont Golf Club boundary. Note that this section of beach also permits 4WDs with permits to drive on the sand, so keep an eye out.

Off-Leash Blacksmiths Beach
Dogs are allowed off-leash along part of Blacksmiths Beach

The final off-leash dog beach in the region is Hams Beach, at the suburb of Caves Beach. The off-leash area is adjacent to the car park off Mawson Close, although I found it hard to distinguish the boundaries. Dogs are not permitted on Caves Beach itself, further to the south and near the popular sea caves. Confusingly, the off-leash area is marked “Caves Beach” on Google Maps, while there is a separate “Hams Beach” to the north. 

Off-Leash Hams Beach
On the off-leash Hams Beach at Cave Beach

There’s also plenty of off-leash parks along the shores of the huge Lake Macquarie, that are adjacent to the water and are often good for letting your dog have a swim. These areas include:

  • Swansea Dog Exercise Area – Thomas Humphreys Reserve bounded by Wallarah Street, Coon Island/Tourist Park access road and the boat ramp access roads and car parks
  • Croudace Bay Dog Park – Bounded by the central car parks and Bareki Road, but only leash free from sunrise to 10am daily and 4.30pm to sunset on weekdays, excluding public holidays
Croudace Bay Dog Park
Croudace Bay Dog Park next to Lake Macquarie
  • Booragul Dog Exercise Area – Booragul Foreshore Reserve extending from the car park near the Booragul jetty south the along the lake edge past Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery to Marmong Cove and Marmong St
  • Toronto Off-Leash Area – Lions Park bounded by Toronto Road, Anzac Parade and the Lake, but only leash free from sunrise to 10am daily, except on market days (the third Sunday of each month)
  • Blackalls Parks Off-Leash Area – Part of the parkland easterly from the picnic/shelter area
  • Coal Point Off-Leash Area – Gurranba Reserve bounded by Skye Point Road and the Lake
  • Buttaba Off-Leash Area – Foreshore Reserve bounded by Ilford Avenue and the Lake
  • Bonnells Bay Off-Leash Area – Pendlebury Park bounded by Grand Parade and the Lake

For more details on off-leash beaches and areas in the region, check out the City of Newcastle website and the Lake Macquarie City Council website

Dog-Friendly Walks in Newcastle

There’s plenty of dog-friendly walks available in the Newcastle region, perfect for exploring the area, whether along the coastline, the water’s edge or in nearby bushland reserves.

One of the most popular walks in Newcastle is the walk out to Nobbys Lighthouse and the Newcastle Breakwall. About a 3km return walk, although you can turn around early, it’s particularly recommended at sunset, but popular any time of the day. The walk starts next to the off-leash Horseshoe Beach, although it’s a bit of a scramble up from the beach onto the walkway!  

Nobbys Lighthouse Walk
The walk to Nobbys Lighthouse is deservedly popular

South of Nobbys Head, you can continue to walk along the spectacular Newcastle coastline with your dog. The Bathers Way stretches for 6km from Nobbys Beach to the Merewether Ocean Baths. Note that midway along the walk is the recently constructed Memorial Walk, where dogs are not permitted – you’ll need to detour via the old footpath.

Bathers Way
Dogs are allowed along most of the Bathers Way

Alternatively, instead of walking along the coastline with its many steps, you could choose to walk along the Newcastle Harbour Foreshore. There’s walking paths along the foreshore past the CBD and Queens Wharf, all the way to the marina at Wickham.

Newcastle Harbour Foreshore
Take a stroll along the Newcastle Harbour Foreshore

Another terrific flat dog-friendly walking path is along the shores of Lake Macquarie near Warners Bay. Along the way spot the sculptures that make up the Creative LAKE Sculpture Trail, stretching for 2km from Warners Bay to Eleebana. 

Warners Bay Foreshore Walk
Walking along the Warners Bay Foreshore…
Creative Lake Sculpture Trail with Dog
…and checking out the sculptures

If you’d prefer to hike through the bush with your dog, one of the best dog-friendly bus walking spots is the Blue Gum Hills Regional Park. Inland from Newcastle, near Minmi and the Pacific Motorway, dog walking is permitted in this park away from the picnic areas and children’s play areas. There’s a variety of walking tracks, with some historic sites to see along the way. It’s best to use a map on your phone to navigate.

Blue Gum Hills Regional Park
Go bush walking in Blue Gum Hills Regional Park

On all of these walking tracks, dogs need to be kept on a leash. The best off-leash dog walks are along the dog-friendly beaches above, or within the many off-leash dog parks. 

Dog-Friendly Sightseeing in Newcastle

Unfortunately, there’s not many dog-friendly sightseeing options in Newcastle, other than the above off-leash beaches and the many dog-friendly walking tracks. 

One of the most popular new sightseeing destinations in Newcastle is the Newcastle Memorial Walk, including the Anzac Bridge. This elevated walkway provides spectacular views of the coast, plus the city centre on the other side. Part of the largely dog-friendly Bathers Way, unfortunately this new part of the walk is off-limits to dogs.

Memorial Walk No Dogs
Dogs aren’t allowed on the Newcastle Memorial Walk

The historic site of Fort Scatchley is just south of Nobbys Head, and popular for its tunnel tours. Unfortunately though, dogs are not allowed inside of the fort.

Another popular sightseeing spot where dogs are not allowed are the sea caves at Caves Beach. I’m not sure if dogs are actually prohibited from the section of beach and cliff containing the caves, but to access the spot you need to walk past the patrolled section of Caves Beach, with clear no dog signs on all the access paths. The closest you’ll get to the caves with your dog is the lookout above. 

Caves Beach Lookout
Checking out the sea caves from the lookout

Interested in a spot of dog-friendly shopping with you pup? Don’t miss stopping at the Gourmet Dog Barkery in Belmont, with their incredible range of handmade dog treats and biscuits – dog visitors are likely to receive a sample or two!

Gourmet Dog Barkery
So many treats to choose from at Gourmet Dog Barkery!

Are Dogs Allowed on Public Transport in Newcastle?

The same rules apply for dogs on public transport in Newcastle as in Sydney: dogs are permitted in a carrier on buses, the light rail and on ferries, with permission from the driver or crew. However, dogs are prohibited on trains and at train stations.

A fun dog-friendly outing if you have a small dog and a carrier bag would be to take the ferry over to Stockton. The ferry between Queens Wharf and Stockton Wharf takes just 5 minutes, and then it’s a short walk to the off-leash dog beaches in Stockton, which are generally quieter than Horseshoe Beach. On the ferry, your dog is required to travel on the outside deck. 

Queens Wharf
Catch the ferry to Stockton from Queens Wharf

Dog-Friendly Parks in Newcastle

There’s a huge number of off-leash dog parks in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie areas, with 17 off-leash areas listed by the City of Newcastle, and an astounding 29 managed by the Lake Macquarie City Council

At the moment there is one fenced dog park in the City of Newcastle, the Acacia Avenue Dog Park in North Lambton. This dog park has separate areas for large and small (or active and quiet) dogs, along with high fences, sheltered seating and drinking water fountains. Search for the “North Lambton Dog Off-Leash Area” on Google. Based on the success of the park, the council has state that more fenced dog parks will likely be built.

Acacia Avenue Dog Park
Acacia Avenue Dog Park has a separate enclosure for small dogs

Some other off-leash dog parks within Newcastle include the Carrington Foreshore, where it’s also possible to walk along the mangroves, and an off-leash area in King Edward Park, adjacent to the Bathers Way. Note that a few of the areas are time-restricted, from sunrise to 9am and 5pm to sunset, plus dogs are only permitted in any of the off-leash areas from sunrise and sunset. For maps of each area, download this brochure

Carrington Foreshore Off-Leash Area
The off-leash area at Carrington Foreshore is also popular

The Lake Macquarie area is also home to one fenced dog park, the Speers Point Dog Exercise Area. This fabulous park is large with plenty of shade and seating, and even has some agility equipment. Unfortunately though, there’s not a separate area for small dogs, so if you have a smaller timid dog it’s best to avoid the busy times of day. 

Speers Point Dog Exercise Area
The fenced Speers Point Dog Exercise Area
Dog Agility Equipment Speers Point
Testing the dog agility equipment at Speers Point

Many of the off-leash dog parks in the Lake Macquarie area are located along the shore of the lake, so some doggie paddling is often possible on hot days.

Dog-Friendly Dining in Newcastle

There’s a long list of dog-friendly dining spots in Newcastle, ranging from beachside cafes to pet-friendly pubs. Most cafes with outdoor dining tables will be happy to accept well-behaved dogs on a leash.

For lunch, we headed to Cafe Inu. This popular cafe just west of the city in the industrial area of Carrington is open for brunch and lunch, with a Japanese twist. Expect teriyaki chicken in bowls and Katsu sandwiches to be amongst the menu options. There’s also a long list of drinks, including craft coffees and puppycinos. As well as the outside tables, dogs are allowed on a few of the indoor tables, just inside the entryway.

Cafe Inu
The dog-friendly Cafe Inu in Carrington

Along the Newcastle Foreshore, some of the best dog-friendly spots include the Wickham Boatshed, the Beehive Honeysuckle and Queens Wharf Hotel. All offer dog-friendly outdoor seating overlooking the harbour. The parking near the Wickham Boatshed is free. 

Queens Wharf Hotel
Waterfront outdoor tables at the Queens Wharf Hotel

A few blocks back from the waterfront in the centre of Newcastle is the Family Hotel, which is surprisingly dog-friendly everywhere, including inside. 

Dog-Friendly Accommodation in Newcastle

The majority of the dog-friendly accommodation options in Newcastle are either pet-friendly caravan parks or B&Bs. 

We stayed in our campervan at Blacksmiths Beachside Holiday Park, just a short walk from the patrolled Blacksmiths Beach, and a short drive (or long walk) from the off-leash dog beach at the northern edge of the town. Dogs are permitted on the powered and unpowered sites all year round, plus there are two dog friendly cabins. Both have a doggy door to the enclosed verandah, plus a dog bed and water bowl provided. Just call to discuss in advance, as some breeds are prohibited.

Blacksmiths Beachside Holiday Park
Blacksmiths Beachside Holiday Park permits pets, including in two cabins

Another pet-friendly caravan park in the region is the NRMA Stockton Beach Holiday Park. Adjacent to the off-leash Pitt Street Reserve, including Little Beach, up to two pets are permitted on sites, including their ensuite sites. Dogs are not permitted at peak periods including Christmas and the Easter holidays, plus you need to book directly rather than online.

NRMA Stockton Beach Holiday Park
NRMA Stockton Beach Holiday Park is another pet-friendly option

A delightfully pet-friendly option is Tantarra Guest House in Warners Bay, that states “pets are most warmly welcome”. A quiet hideaway, perfect for a relaxing stay, the guest house is set in Balinese-style gardens with an outdoor pool. There are three guest rooms, each with a private ensuite, and a breakfast hamper is included. Dogs are naturally allowed inside, although are not permitted to be left alone, and dog massages and pampering can be organised.

Another pet-friendly place to stay in Newcastle is Hamilton Heritage B&B. Nestled in quiet leafy surroundings on historic Cameron Hill, the family-owned B&B has a private garden that is a safe spot for pets (and children) to play. With a complimentary breakfast included, dogs are permitted to stay inside with you (its recommended to put your pet’s bed in the bathroom), with food and water bowls able to be supplied. 

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