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 29th 2014
(Dog) heaven on a beach PLUS COFFEE
I have one happy little pooch, and that's probably because she regularly gets to run madly at the beach, rolling in all things smelly and romping with other friendly mates. I don't have to head east to popular Brighton Dog Beach, or west to the fabulous Altona Dog Beach, because happily, one of Melbourne's best and largest dog beaches, is surprisingly, right in the heart of things, tucked beside St Kilda pier, running all the way along wide open West St Kilda Beach and further along to the groyne opposite Sandridge Street.
St Kilda West Dogs Off Lead Beach (c) JP Mundy 2013
[ADVERT]Port Phillip Council has pretty good policies for dogs - all of its beaches are accessible off lead at certain times of the year, with a number, including this one, off-lead all year round. To make it easy for you to abide by local regulations, the council has a clear dogs-on-beach map. The only area where you must keep your dogs off is the vegetated dune conservation area with the walking paths, between the beach pavillion and the creek outflow.
The creek itself means the inlet area can be a bit smelly at very low tide, but the bonus of low tide is that there are extensive areas of shallow water and sand bars, where dogs can wade and roam and paddle and splash to their heart's delight.
The dogs here (and their owners) tend to be very friendly and mellow, and because it's so large, it never feels crowded. The beach is also hugely popular with kiteboarders and bathing families, so be respectful of other beach users. There are a couple of bins up near the edge of the beach beside the road for disposing of dog poo but no bags, so do please ensure you bring your own and keep the beach clean for everyone to enjoy.
Happy is a soggy beach dog! Indie @ St Kilda West beach (c) JP Mundy 2013
When your dog has run its legs off, you can pull up a stool on the outside deck of the West Beach Pavillion and have a great chai or coffee (order inside). Water bowls are provided for dogs, though don't arrive too early - the cafe doesn't really get going until 10am (9am weekends, when it can be really buzzing on a sunny day).
There is plenty of parking along Beaconsfield Parade (metered, so bring coins), just watch out for cyclists, joggers and rollerbladers when you get out of the car, or alternatively there is always parking (also metered) tucked right beside the beach on Pier Road, near the Yacht Squadron.