Dog-Friendly You Yangs: Visiting the You Yangs with a Dog

The You Yangs Regional Park is located close to Geelong, just an hour’s drive west of the Melbourne CBD. It’s a great spot to head to enjoy bush walking with your dog, with a variety of trails on offer. Find out more about visiting the You Yangs with your dog…

Dog-Friendly You Yangs

Where is the You Yangs Regional Park?

The You Yangs Regional Park is located to the west of Melbourne. It’s less than an hours drive from the centre of Melbourne or 30 minutes north of Geelong.

As you drive southwest out of Melbourne along the M1, you’ll see the outcrops in the park rising to the north. The You Yangs were named after the local Aboriginal word for “big mountain in the middle of the plain”.

Is the You Yangs Dog-Friendly?

Yes, the You Yangs Regional Park is dog-friendly! Unlike most national parks in Victoria, where dogs are generally not allowed, dogs are welcome in this regional park.

Note however that dogs need to be kept on a leash at all times in the You Yangs Regional Park. If you want to let your dog off-leash, head to one of the off-leash parks in nearby Geelong.

Best Dog-Friendly Walks in the You Yangs

There’s a wide variety of walks that you can do at the You Yangs, all of them dog-friendly! These are the most popular trails, from shortest to longest.

Dog-Friendly Walks Victoria
Close to Big Rock

Big Rock Ascent (200m return): The distinctive Big Rock is a granite boulder next to one of the main picnic grounds. It’s just an easy 100m stroll from the Big Rock Carpark to the top of the rock. From the top enjoy the views of the surrounding bush. Keep your dog away from the drop offs.

Big Rock Circuit (800m loop): For a slightly long walk departing from the same spot, complete the circuit around Big Rock. This is still a fairly easy walk, as it’s short and relatively flat. There’s also the option of the longer Big Rock Walk, starting from the park office carpark.

Big Rock Circuit
The Big Rock Circuit track

Flinders Peak (3.2km return): Probably the most popular walk in the You Yangs Regional Park is the ascent up the 340m-high Flinders Peak in the centre of the park. As you’re climbing steps nearly the whole way, it’s a tougher walk, but there’s benches to rest along the way. At the top, enjoy the spectacular views, before descending back down. Allow at least an hour.

Flinders Peak Summit
On top of Flinders Peak
Flinders Peak Walk
The steps up Flinders Peak

East-West Walk (4.5km loop): This longer walk departs from the same carpark as the Flinders Peak Walk but loops around the peak, only partially ascending it without stairs. It is still a tough walk in parts – be prepared for some scrambles. An Aboriginal rock shelter can also be seen along the way. Allow two hours for this walk.

East-West Walk
The start of the East-West Walk

Branding Yard Trail (5km): This loop walk traverses the eastern part of the park. Also starting from the Turntable Carpark, there is a descent at the start (and ascent at the end), but then you’ll be on a relatively flat and easy loop track. Keep an eye out for birds. Allow two hours.

There are clear signboards at the You Yangs providing details of all these walks and more, plus clear signage on the tracks. It’s also easy to combine together one or more walks for a longer hike.

More Dog-Friendly Facilities at the You Yangs

As well as hiking, there are multiple other activities on offer at the You Yangs, including mountain biking, horse riding, orienteering and rock climbing. However, most of these aren’t dog-friendly. Instead consider enjoying a picnic with your dog.

There are multiple picnic grounds scattered throughout the park. At the main picnic grounds, free gas barbecues are provided. Other picnic grounds have fireplaces for wood fires – bring your own wood and note that no fires are allowed on days of total fire bans. And keep your dog away from others picnicking!

Tips for Visiting the You Yangs

The You Yangs Regional Park closes overnight, although the hours have recently increased. It is now open from 7am to 8pm every day, including weekends and public holidays.

Make sure you bring plenty of drinking water. Drinking water is also available from the drinking fountain at the park office, but water from other taps is not drinkable. No bins are provided, so take all your rubbish home with you.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation near the You Yangs

If you’d like to stay overnight near the You Yangs, the closest spot with dog-friendly accommodation is Geelong.

Geelong Waterfront Bollards
There’s a variety of dog-friendly accommodation in nearby Geelong

The Eldorado Tourist and Residential Park is located on the northwestern edge of Geelong. A basic park, short term stays are welcome in caravans and campervans, but not in tents. Up to two dogs are permitted per site, although enquire for permission for large dogs. There is a large fenced off-leash dog exercise area onsite.

Pets are also welcome at the Geelong Showgrounds and Tasman Holiday Parks – Geelong in the centre of Geelong. Dogs are even allowed in selected Budget Cabins and Standard Cabins at the latter – call the park to make a booking.

Other options include the recently opened Quest Geelong Central, which allows pets in selected rooms, and R Hotel Geelong, where there are six dog-friendly one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with their own courtyards. Up to two dogs are allowed per apartment, with a flat $150 cleaning fee applying per stay.

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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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