Let me start by saying I am well aware how high this gripe will rank on the list of first world problems and I make no excuses for it. When you are a doting dog owner it can be hard to enjoy a weekend away without either leaving your faithful friend behind, or slumming with your dog somewhere rather grungy. Many campgrounds won't allow dogs and some places advertising as "dog friendly" will only permit your dog in the backyard. But travel a little further along the wildly beautiful Victorian coastline and you shall discover that Apollo Bay is one of the most awesome holiday destinations a dog could set paws on.
First up, there is an abundance of dog-friendly accommodation choices ranging from campgrounds to luxury cottages. Dog-friendly luxury is rare so we jumped at the opportunity and stayed at Coast Cottages in sleepy Marengo just 3km out of town. There are four cottages spaced out upon 42 hectares of farmland, each with private driveways. We understand they were fully booked during our stay but we never saw other guests or heard their dogs. In fact, we couldn't even see the other cottages.
Four-legged guest taking in the views at the Stone Cottage.
We had the charming open-plan Stone Cottage, perfect for a couple and a dog or two. The bedroom on the mezzanine level was rustic and it was peaceful to fall asleep to the sound of rolling waves while gazing at the exposed wooden beams. Downstairs was the bathroom, kitchen and living area with an open fireplace.
There are couches upstairs and downstairs which your dog is welcome on and clean throw rugs were provided. But the greatest attribute were the panoramic windows on the ocean side of the cottage which both hubby and doggy enjoyed gazing out of. One point to note is that there are no curtains, which I assume is intentional to let in more of that magnificent ocean vista. If you are a light sleeper bring an eye mask and warn your other half not to wander past the bathroom window when you go in.
The panoramic views out the kitchen window in the Stone Cottage.
From each cottage there is a private track through the farmland (keep your dog on a leash as there are sheep and it can be rather tempting) straight onto the Great Ocean Walk. This is part of a famous 90km trail and it is worthwhile allocating a few hours to walking along part of it. Your dog will love the beaches and rock shelves just a short distance away.
This amazing trail is what your dog finds on your doorstep.
If you jump into the car, the town of Apollo Bay is three minutes away and lined with cafes which have outdoor seating and dog bowls. In the main shopping precinct your dog is required to be leashed, but wander out a bit further and you will find a number of year-round dog friendly beaches. Between 24 December and 30 April other beaches do have restrictions between 9am and 7pm so be sure to read the signs.
Because the accommodation was so cosy we cooked and ate in most nights but did make a worthwhile stop at Chris's Beacon Point Restaurant for some delicious and surprisingly delicate Greek food. Visiting for lunch is a great idea to take in the treetop views. There are a few good spots to tie up a dog near the carpark.
The Otway Ranges is a short drive away and best of all there are a few spectacular walks which can be taken with your dog on leash. The walks to Mainers Falls, Beauchamp Falls and Stevenson Falls, which each take under an hour, are highly recommended and a good way to pass the time. Dogs are not permitted in the Otway National Park itself but they are however permitted to travel through in a car and can be left in the car in appropriate weather.
So there you go. We had a relaxing and secluded weekend away without having to come home to a grumpy dog. A highly recommended destination to anyone who understands that the best holidays are made better in the company of your most faithful friend.