Australia: the most dog-unfriendly country in the world?

Written 2008/01/04, last edited 2020/07/12
Contact: David K. Clarke – ©

Our dog Socrates in Ferntree Gully, NSW.
My wife and I had a short holiday touring the Murray valley a few months ago. We stayed in cabins in caravan parks and camping grounds, and we took a couple of dogs. Even though we were happy to keep our dogs outside, we had trouble finding places that would allow dogs.

Our daughter took her two dogs across the Nullarbor some months ago. She had to sneak her dogs into motel rooms overnight because there was no alternative.

Same thing in the Flinders Ranges; very hard to get accommodation if you have dogs with you, even if you keep them outside. (On a later trip we found a cottage in Blinman and shearer's quarters at Moolooloo Homestead, north of Blinman, that did allow our dog. Rawnsley Park, in a beautiful part of the Flinders Ranges, also allows dogs.)

Dogs are not allowed in almost all national parks, even on a lead. There are now few places in towns or cities where dogs are allowed to go without being on a lead; even those dogs that are well trained and under their owner's control.

There seems much less dog-phobia in the UK and Europe. Dogs are allowed into restaurants and hotels there. And I can't imagine most Asian countries objecting to dogs in most places.

The tourist industry of Australia tries to spread an image of a country that is free, open, friendly, and strong on nature. Is this justified?

The time seems to be approaching when it will be impracticable to take a dog on a holiday in Australia unless one has one's own accommodation: a caravan, campervan, or tent. Even then, it might be simplest to avoid staying in caravan parks or formal camping grounds.

One alternative, I suppose, although an undesirable one, is to not mention the dog to the park managers?

A service I have found very useful for finding camping grounds that allow dogs is WikiCamps. A useful book is 'Holidaying with Dogs', and there is a Net site. One Net site that may be useful in finding accommodation that allows dogs is Stayz. (Click on the 'more' button and then tick the 'Pets allowed' box.)

Victimless crime

With so many rules and regulations, many of which seem excessive to the point of farce, Australians are being pushed into choosing which rules to obey and which to ignore. Isn't sneaking a dog, under control (on a leash or otherwise), onto a national park for a walk a victimless crime? (In the case of a cabin or similar accommodation, if you are not allowed to keep your dog outside, and there is no other accommodation available, what choice do you have but to sneak it inside?)

Taking a dog into most conservation parks or national parks in Australia is illegal yet it does no harm so long as the dog is under control; if it is a crime then there is no victim. Can anything really be a crime if it has no victim?