As a nature loving bushwalker, we have all dreamed of taking our little four-legged friends for a wonderful nature adventure. In the Illawarra region, most people are accustomed to which beaches you can walk your dog on, but what about those days when you want your little mates to join you in the wild?
Here are some tips and information to ensure you and your doggy have a safe and legal experience in the bush.
Did you know? It is illegal for dogs to be in National Parks, Nature Reserves or State Conservation Areas. So to be clear, that is basically the entire escarpment around Wollongong. The fine for bringing your dog along is $300.
So what’s the big deal taking our dogs into the bush?? Our dogs, by leaving their scents behind and being in the generally vicinity of native animals and their habitats can cause significant stress to the wildlife. In some cases, the scents can cause animal families to leave their homes and worse still dogs can even kill the wildlife… just think dog vs. ground dwelling birds and reptiles…
So that means no more selfies of dogs in our National Parks. Not cool at all.
Trained Assistance Dogs are allowed in all National Parks, State Conservation Areas and Reserves.
So how do we do the right thing and still let Fido enjoy some bushwalking? Very simple. We are fortunate that in NSW, State Forests and Regional Parks allow for dogs. These areas are generally mixed between plantation forests and natural bush which keeps it interesting and with plenty of trees to sniff! There are water elements in some too such as ponds and creeks, making for some fun times for you and your dog. Some of these areas are absolutely massive, so a big run for your dog is very available. Furthermore, a few of these places also have camp grounds (free!!) so just think… afternoon walk with the dog collecting kindling, kicking back under the stars with a fire… sounds good right?!
3 Tips to keep you and your dog safe;
- You always pack food and water for yourself, so make sure you think about your dog too! Water is especially critical, all that running and sniffing will make them very thirsty.
- First Aid; if you are planning on going in some of the more remote areas, don’t forget a medical kit, most items you can use for your dog also, if they get a laceration, sprain etc.
- Keep your dog under your control, no one wants their dog lost in a massive forest…on that note, ensure you pack maps and let people know where you are going. State Forests, in particular plantation forests, are very easy to get lost in. Think rows and rows of pine trees which look the same and the dense forest makes it difficult to see the sun for direction.
The same general courtesy rules applies to dog friendly bush as does on the dog beaches and parks. So have a think about others and remember these tips;
- Clean up after your dog, be prepared with poo-bags, there is none available in these areas like the dog beaches.
- Be in control of your dog, either by leash or command
- No dogs with contagious disease, skin irritation or parasitic infection should be in these public areas
- Remember; the owner of the dog is legally responsible if their dog attacks another person or animal
So get to the point…. where can I take the dog for a bushwalk?!
Ok, so we have established, no National Parks, no Reserves and no State Conservation Areas – so I put together of list of links for you to go and explore. Granted they are not on our doorstep, but how about we just think about our dogs and go for a nice weekend adventure and explore an area a little away from home…why not?!
Here are some links to areas as close as possible to Wollongong where you can safely and legally take your dog on a bushwalking adventure;
Belanglo State Forest (Dog Camping!)
Penrose State Forest (Dog Camping!)
Wingello State Forest (Dog Camping!)
Meryla State Forest (Dog Camping!)
Kiama Coast Walk (Must be on a lead. Also note the signs, dogs are not permitted on some beaches)
Blackbutt Forest Reserve (some on leash dog areas)
For more information refer to this link on the National Parks and Wildlife Service website for specific information on dog walking in the bush.