Taking your pet on your Travels!!

Border Collies at Riverwood DownsBorder Collies at Riverwood DownsAny true dog person will usually tell you two things about their beloved pet: first, they're a lot smarter than most people, and second, fido is not just an animal, but a part of the family unit.

This can lead to a fair bit of angst at holiday time when thbe furry family member is deposited with strangers who place him in a steel cage that looks suspiciously like a doggy jail.

Now don't get me wrong: a lot of kennels are top notch, more akin to a dog resort than a canine Kerobokan: but they just don't suit all dogs or their owners.

The only time I ever left my Dalmatian Claude in a kennel, he stood on his hind legs, pressed his nose against the bars and, as I walked away with my equally distraught four-year old daughter, he uttered the most mournful howl, something he'd never done before.

My partner and I decided then and there that kennels, no matter how good, weren't for our family, and we soon broke him out.

Ever since then we have always found a permanent dog sitter when we go away or accepted the limitations of having a 40kg four legged travelling companion and taken him with us.

This has proved both a great delight for all of the family, especially the dog, but also on a number of occasions a huge headache that you should plan for if travelling with your pet.

The first very real problem is finding accommodation that will accept pets, no matter how well behaved.

It would be fair to say a good three-quarters of places simply won't or can't accommodate animals for various reasons, ranging from health and safety issues to the very real risk of alienating a good many of their non-dog loving clientele who don't want to share space with a
Four legged guest.

Add to this the problems associated with dining out when you have a dog, the fact national parks become no-go zones and that any form of paid entertainment such as movies, public transport, swimming pools, etc are off limits and you quickly find that if you take man's best friend with you, be prepared to treat them as such by spending
just about every moment of your trip with them.

Those contemplating taking their dog on holiday shouldn't abandon the plan, however, as there are a number of fantastic places that welcome pets within easy reach of Sydney.

For those who love the sand and surf, a good option is to head to Holiday Park located about 300km south of Sydney, midway between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay.

The park welcomes pets, subject to management approval, and accommodation ranges from three-and-a-half star cabins through to powered and unpowered van and tent sites.

Kioloa Beach Holiday ParkKioloa Beach Holiday ParkPets are not allowed inside the cabins but they can comfortably sleep on the verandas.

A stroll around the grounds also reveals a large cross-section of the dog world lazing about the various campsites.

Nowhere does it become more apparent than a dog is a good reflection of its owner than a place like this.

Mongrels lounge alongside camping sites that look as if a whirlwind has passed through, small white fluffy creatures peer from the doors of old caravans while their grey haired owners do the crossword and full-bred city dogs lurk near upmarket 4wds from Sydney.

Set immediatley back from Kioloa Beach, the park grounds themselves are well maintained with plenty of native trees as well as a tennis court, swimming pool and children’s playground.

The real highlight is the beach: a gently curving affair with fine white sand, framed at each end by rocky outcrops and largely sheltered from southerly winds that can be a real pain in this neck of the woods.

A series of other largely deserted and equally beautiful beaches run north to the nearby township of Bawley Point.

Just offshore of Kioloa is tiny Belowia Island Nature Reserve which also protects the beach from the worst of heavier surf, making it good for swimming.

The area also provides good recreational fishing, with a small boat ramp at the south end of the beach with the high number of fish in the area evidenced by the pod of dolphins often spotted playing just offshore.

Of course none of this matters to my dog, who begins to go berserk when he gets near the water and demands to be let off his leash for a dip in the ocean.

Watching hi frolic in the waves at a deserted beach is a wonderful sight and one you can never get in a crowded city park.

Of course, pet ownership does bestow responsibilities, and nothing wears out your welcome more quickly than ignoring the rights other people.

It pays to remember that the big slobbering monster you are certain will never harm anyone can still scare the pants off someone who doesn't like dogs, so keep them well under control.

This responsibility extends equally to the native wildlife, and while your children will delight in being able to get just metres from the many kangaroos who loll on the local Kioloa oval, the roos will be less thrilled to meet your mutt.

If the beach is not your scene, try heading to Riverwood Downs Mountain valley Resort in the foothills of the Barrington Tops.Horse Riding at RiverWood DownsHorse Riding at RiverWood Downs

A long-time favourite with pet owners, the resort has 300ha of lightly wooded and open grassland with a beautiful mountain river flowing through it.

Riverwood downs has a range of cabins and camping options, and dogs can share most of the facilities with their owners.

There is even a jHound's Breath Cafe, which takes it lead from Leichhardt's famous Cafe Bones in serving Pup-a-Chinos and doggie treats to thirsty mutts.

If you are after a fun day trip with your pooch, consider the Zig Zag Railway near Lithgow, which has long allowed dogs aboard for the historic steam train trip down the switchback rail line.

Dogs are even issued with their own ticket, and providing they don't get spooked by the noise of the rattling old rolling stock will enjoy the trip.

A word of caution: it is worth ringing ahead to make sure it is an appropriate time to bring your pet as the train can get very busy during the holiday periods and does your dog really want to be enjoying a holiday with a horde of screaming
Harry Potter fans?

Kioloa Beach Holiday Park:

3.5 Hours drive south of Sydney, Standard ensuite cabins from $60 low season to $130 peak season: large family cabins
from $80 low, $150 peak: powered camping sites from $16 to $43: tariff is a night and includes two adults and two children. Other types of accommodation available: www.kioloabeach.com

Riverwood downs Mountain Valley Lodge: About 2 and a half to 3 hours drive north of Sydney. Range of deals and accommodation for pets and owners can be seen at www.riverwooddowns.com.au

Zig Zag Railway: About 2 and a half hours by car west of Sydney can be found at www.zigzagrailway.com.au

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