Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published March 21st 2012
Sitting as it does wrapped around Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne's dog owners are spoiled for choice when it comes to taking their canine friend for a splash in the sea. While many beaches have restricted hours for daylight access during the 'peak' summer months (usually 1st November and 31st March, but check the signs on each beach or with the local council), there are a number of beaches which are 'open all year' for off-leash doggy fun.
Our dog's favourite by far is West Beach in St Kilda, which not only has extensive wide sand for her to go crazy on, but shallow sandbars to wade out on for reluctant swimmers or puppies having their first paddle. A bonus for owners is the extremely dog-friendly West Beach Pavillion cafe which is right on the sand and good parking all along the foreshore (though it is ticketed and not cheap!). Other great all-year round beaches for you and your dog to explore include:
St Kilda Beach (Along Pier Road to the channel at the NW end of the road, and between Brooks Jetty and the northern end of the carpark near St Kilda Marina) Sandridge Beach (between Barak and Cumberland Roads,Port Melbourne)
Port Melbourne Beach (between Lagoon Pier and Bay Street) Sandown Street Beach (Brighton) Sandringham Harbour (Hampton) Cyril Curtain Reserve (Williamstown)
The east side spit of 'The Warmies' (Newport) Werribee South Foreshore (from the jetski ramp to Cunningham Road)
A bit further afield, the Mornington Peninsula is well provided for year-round, off-leash romping grounds:
Royal Beach (Mornington)
Fosters Beach (Mornington)
Hawker Beach (Mt Martha)
Safety Beach/Tassells Cove (between Marina and Bruce Road)
There are lots and lots of other beaches in Melbourne where dogs are allowed, though it may be for limited hours (usually after 730pm and before 930am) in the peak season, or only on-leash - just check with your local council and comply with any signage.
Do remember, off-leash doesn't mean out of control - your dog must not behave aggressively towards other dogs or people, and must be under effective voice control at all times when off leash. Please ensure you clean up after your dog just as you would anywhere else - none of us fancy swimming in the bay with left-behind 'floaters'! Remember too that not all beach users are dog lovers and can take fright if a dog you know to be friendly (but they don't) runs up to say 'hello'! Having said that, there are always lots of very friendly dogs and their owners for them to play with instead.
Do you have a favourite dog beach in Melbourne? If you do, please leave a comment - we would love to hear from you.
OMG I cannot believe the beaches of the west aren't in there: Seaholme Bay Beach has a zillion dogs every weekend having a blast and running arond like maniacs. If you park near the Altona Boat Club, Anglers Club or RSL which is at the very very eastern end of the bayline, that is, turn left at Pier Street Altona and keep on heading east till you hit the railway track proper, turn left into the boat club parking or further in near the RSL (which has wonderful brekkies on Sundays), there is green parkland for dogs to romp, a water fountain - for both dogs and their peeps - and the best beach in Melbourne. it doesn't stink, it's always clean and it's very very pretty.
Alternatively you can turn right at Pier Street and head all the way up to Apex Park end of Altona Beach, this can be dirty and stinky when the tide's out but otherwise perfect. This end overlooks the wetlands. After the beach why not follow the path right round over the bridge to the gorgeous view at 100 steps to Federation, have a picnic or BBQ (facilities there), and continue your walk up past the wetblands and enjoy the views.
Both beach ends have parks and picnicking as well so, there's room and a place for everything. Bring your camera.
i don't understand why there are so limited beaches to go to in the summer months. I take my dog to Carrum, Kiest park twice a week all year and they want to say she can't go in the summer.. Ha!!!! catch me if you can