In 2019, my husband and I took our dog around Australia in our 1975 Kombi, Etta. It was an amazing trip and one we couldn’t imagine doing without Bandit. Here’s what we learned.
Travelling around Australia with a dog isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. You should carefully consider the pros and cons beforehand. For example, if you want to see all the touristy places around the country, and spend most of your time in national parks, then you may want to leave your pooch at home. This is for their benefit, not yours. However, if you are keen to see different parts of the country and you’re prepared to skip some non-dog-friendly parts, you can have a fulfilling and adventurous trip with your dog in tow.
Do your research – but don’t go overboard
No matter if you’re travelling for a week or a year, a little bit of research goes a long way to ensuring you and your dog have a great time. Familiarise yourself with dog-friendly accommodation, attractions, walks, beaches, bars and cafes before you leave for your trip. There are many resources available to help you plan your journey, such as dog-friendly travel books, pet care websites and apps such as WikiCamps and Mad Paws. But this isn’t a military exercise; remember to allow for adventure and exploration during your trip as well – not everything has to be planned. Some of the best places we found around the country were places we stumbled across. More and more places around Australia are dog-friendly as travellers head out with their pooches.
If it’s a no-go, don’t go
Dog access rules should be followed wherever you are to ensure the safety of native wildlife and the environment. It might seem like a tiresome task to keep to these rules, but dogs are actually allowed in more places than you’d think. There are national parks and conservation areas around the country where dogs are allowed in designated areas like car parks, beaches and certain walking trails. Most state forests and some wilderness areas will allow your dog as well. Check what rules apply before you leave.
Dial in the dog-sitters
If you don’t want to miss out on some national parks and other not-so-dog-friendly attractions while you’re travelling, there are plenty of kennels, doggy day-care facilities and private dog-sitters across the country. Some local vets will even board your pet overnight or for a few hours. If your dog is going to stay in a kennel, you need to bring a printed record of their current vaccinations. This is a must; no kennel will take your dog if you don’t have this. Befriending other travelling dog owners is also a great resource for dog minding, too, especially in areas of the country where dog-sitters are hard to find, like Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, for example.
Take shit with you
You must always pick up your dog’s poop – which should go without saying. However, if there are no bins, do take it with you. (Bonus points for using biodegradable bags.) While we were travelling, if there were no bins we’d tie Bandit’s used poo bags to our roof rack until we found a bin. There was one time we’d arrived at our destination and Bandit’s used poop bag, which was tied to the roof, was nowhere to be seen. Here’s hoping it didn’t land on some grey nomads’ windscreen.
Bed, blanket, toys and treats
Just like us, dogs want to feel secure and comfortable while travelling. Whether you’re in a kombi, a van, caravan, bus, troopy or roughing it in a tent, creating a cosy and safe environment for your dog is a must. Bring your dog’s favourite bed, blanket, toys and treats so they have familiar things around them.
Stick to a routine
Maintain a routine on the road with regularly timed walks, naps and feeding – this will give your dog more stability and allow them to settle into life on the road. Allow for down time, too. If you’re go-go-go the whole time on the road your dog is going to get worn out. Some of our favourite moments on our trip were relaxing in the back of the kombi having a snooze.
Pack a first aid kit
Make sure you have a doggy first aid kit on board and be aware of 1080 poison which is used to cull wild dog, fox and feral cat populations – it’s everywhere on both public and private land, and is deadly to dogs. Even with potential risks, travelling this amazing and vast country is a truly awesome experience and doing it with your dog makes it even more special. They are family after all.