One of the highlights of travelling with your dog, whether just on a day trip or for a longer period, is finding beautiful dog-friendly walks. It’s such a treat to go for a walk together in new and interesting surrounds, instead of traipsing the same suburban streets.
The state of Victoria is home to plenty of wonderful walks, many that permit dogs on them, generally on a leash. I’ve tested out most of these short walks around Victoria with my dog. Each of the walks is under 5km, sometimes quite shorter, and are perfect for a one or two hour stroll.
How many of these dog-friendly walks in Victoria have you ticked off with your dog?
1. Flinders Peak Walk, You Yangs Regional Park
Distance: 3.2km return
Difficulty: Medium (Unpaved, many steps)
The You Yangs Regional Park is perfect for a day trip from Melbourne with your pup. Located less than one hour from the centre of Melbourne and 25 minutes north of Geelong, dogs on a leash are allowed in this park, named after the local Aboriginal word for “big mountain in the middle of the plain”.
The most popular walking track in the park is the Flinders Peak walk, which ascends to the top of the granite outcrop and provides superb views back as far as Melbourne and across the Bellarine Peninsula. The return distance of the walk is 3.2km, and it takes about an hour to complete. Just be warned that there’s plenty of steps to ascend!
If you’d prefer a shorter, easier walk, another good option is the 800m circuit around Big Rock, which is also able to be ascended on a short 100m stroll from the carpark.
Alternatively, for a longer walk, combine the return route up Flinders Peak with the adjacent East- West Walk, a 4.5km loop departing from the same carpark. Allow 3 hours for the combined walk.
2. Camels Hump Summit, Macedon Regional Park
Distance: 1km return
Difficulty: Medium (Unpaved but well formed, ascending)
One of the most popular short walks in the park is the path to the Memorial Cross, that leaves from next to the tea room and main picnic grounds. But there’s also plenty of other short and long walks able to be completed with your leashed dog.
I recommend hiking up to summit of Camels Hump, the highest point in the ranges. It’s a moderate hike through bushland, gradually ascending up to the summit, with wonderful views from the lookout across to Hanging Rock and the surrounding countryside. The return distance is only 1km, so it’s just a quick 20-30 minute walk, but enough to stretch your legs.
If you’d prefer a longer hike, you can combine the walk with part of the 30km loop track that links all the major sites in the Macedon Regional Park.
Check out my full guide to visiting the Macedon Ranges with a dog
3. Lake Daylesford Circuit, Daylesford
Distance: 2.8km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Unpaved but gravel, flat)
Daylesford is another beautiful area that is close enough to Melbourne for a day trip, but that offers plenty for a weekend getaway. And one of the most popular dog-friendly attractions in Daylesford is completing the circuit walk around Lake Daylesford.
The complete walking circuit is about 2.8km long, taking about an hour to complete a full lap at a gentle pace. There’s multiple carparks available along the circuit, at Foreshore, Fulcher Street and Wombat Flat, or else it’s an easy walk from most accommodation in town. It’s also easy to just walk one section of the walk and return to your starting point, with plenty of signs informing you of the distance to the various points of interest.
The Daylesford region is renown for its mineral springs, and you can sample some of the local spring water while completing the walk. Stop off at the Wombat Flat Mineral Spring or make a short detour down to Central Springs Reserve, where there is an historic pump dispensing the mineral water. Dogs need to be kept on leash.
Find more ideas for a dog-friendly getaway to Daylesford
4. Toorongo and Amphitheatre Falls Loop Walk, Noojee
Distance: 2.2km loop
Difficulty: Medium (Unpaved, relatively flat, can be muddy)
I was really looking forward to visiting Toorongo and Amphitheatre Falls on my road trip around Victoria, but after days of torrential rain, we thought it would be best to skip hiking with our dog in what is one of the wettest areas of Victoria.
The pair of dog-friendly waterfalls in Victoria are located just south of the Yarra Ranges National Park in the dog-friendly Toorongo Falls Reserve at Noojee, about a two hour drive east of Melbourne. Dogs can be let off-leash, as long as they are under effective control.
The circular walking track that visits the viewing platforms for Toorongo and Amphitheatre Falls is 2.2km long and takes about an hour. The walking track passing through forest is meant to be well-formed and only relatively flat, but it’s probably best to skip after heavy rainfall.
5. Canyon Walk, Bright
Distance: 3km loop
Difficulty: Medium (Mainly unpaved, can be rough)
The Bright region is home to many wonderful dog-friendly walks, but my top pick is the Canyon Walk, which follows the banks of the Ovens River through a section known as the “canyon”, previously used for gold sluicing.
The walk starts on the western side of Star Road, however, you can also start the walk about 200m earlier at Howitt Park, where there’s a handy carpark. The walk is about 3km long if you start from Star Road, although there are also some longer variations, including if you join up with the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail.
The walk is initially along a paved path, however along the canyon proper the path is rougher, especially on the northern bank of the river. You cross the river twice on two swing bridges at either end of the canyon section.
While dogs need to be on leash in the town centre of Bright, including at Howitt Park, dogs are allowed off-leash further afield, as long as they remain under effective control. I didn’t see any signs indicating this, but according to the map on the council website, dogs are allowed off-leash after the end of Riverside Avenue.
Find out more about visiting Bright with a dog
6. Gorge Walk, Beechworth
Distance: 7km loop
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Partially paved)
Not far away from Bright in the Victorian High Country is the historic town of Beechworth, renown as one of the best preserved gold-mining towns in Australia. There’s a wealth of walks around the town, most of which are dog-friendly, but one that combines both a scenic bush walk and the chance to view some historic sites is the Gorge Walk.
The Gorge Walk passes through the Beechworth Historic Park, on the northern edge of the town. It largely follows the 5km-long Gorge Scenic Drive, an historic road that cuts through the park. These days the drive is restricted to slow one-way traffic and is equally popular with cyclists and walkers.
You can start the walk in the centre of town at the visitor information centre, where you can pick up a brochure about the Historic Park, or anywhere along the loop. The complete 7km loop takes about 2 hours to hike, but you can also shorten the walk to around 5km by heading directly from the visitors centre to the Powder Magazine along Camp Street.
The Powder Magazine, a National Trust-listed building once used to hold gunpowder, is one of the most impressive sights along the walk. Don’t also miss the waterfalls around Spring Creek Bridge or the Rocky Mountain tunnel near the end of the drive.
Dogs on a leash are allowed throughout the Historic Park. Note however, that dogs aren’t allowed at Woolshed Falls, located in Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park and also accessed from the side trail starting at Spring Creek Bridge.
Note that due to safety concerns over Spring Creek Bridge, the bridge is currently closed to traffic including all pedestrians. The section of the gorge road between the Powder Magazine and Pritchard Lane is also closed to vehicles, although pedestrians are permitted. Check the website for the latest updates, but the bridge is not expected to reopen anytime soon.
Find out more dog-friendly things to do in Beechworth
7. Bay of Martyrs Walk, Peterborough
Distance: 4km return
Difficulty: Easy-medium (Unpaved but well-formed and relatively flat)
Driving along the Great Ocean Road is a deservedly world-famous trip, but unfortunately the area isn’t that dog-friendly as I explored in my guide. With much of the coastline contained in national park, the most dog-friendly section of the coastline is around the Bay of Martyrs, where there is a dog-friendly walking trail.
Starting from the Peterborough Golf Coast on the western edge of Peterborough, the Peterborough – Bay of Martyrs Trail continues for 2km to the Bay of Martyrs Carpark. The best parking is at either the Bay of Martyrs or Wild Dog Cove Carparks. Along the way, the clifftop track passes Halladale Point and numerous lookouts and coves.
The track takes about 2 hours to walk the return length, including time for detours along the way. Note that dogs aren’t allowed at most beaches and coves, including the actual Bay of Martyrs Beach, so follow the signs. Dogs also need to be kept on leash.
If your dog wants a chance to run off-leash, there’s an off-leash at the mouth of the Curdies River in Peterborough, except from 9am to 6pm during the months of December to April.
8. Entrance Walk, Lakes Entrance
Distance: 4.8km return
Difficulty: Medium (Unpaved but relatively flat, option for beach walking)
On the opposite side in Victoria to the Great Ocean Road is Lakes Entrance, which is home to another dog-friendly coastal walking trail, the Entrance Walk.
This popular walking trail is accessible by crossing the Cunninghame Arm Footbridge to Main Beach, then detouring to the right just before the surf club. The walk is well signposted and leads for 2.4km to the artificially formed entrance after which the town is named. The furthest stretch of the walk passes through the New Works Historic Precinct, featuring some historic cottages, a lookout, boardwalk and amenities, which is otherwise only accessible by boat.
Allow about two hours to complete the entire walk, with an extra hour to explore the New Works Historic Precinct. If you don’t have enough time (like we did due to threatening storm clouds), perhaps turn around early at the 600m mark and complete a quick loop via the access track and 90 Mile Beach. You can also walk the entire distance back along the beach, although the going will be slower.
Note that dogs need to be kept on a leash the entire time, including to my understanding on the beach, although when no-one else is around it’s common for dogs to be unleashed, away from the patrolled area. At Main Beach, for 200m either side of the access track, dogs are not permitted to remain in the area between November and April, although they are allowed to pass through on leash.
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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.