Our dog Buster is part of the family. He’s an Aussie Bulldog who thinks he’s a person.
He loves camping on the Murray with us as we generally allow him to be off lead for most of the time. He’s trained well enough to stay in our line of sight and comes back when called.
We’ve also tried a couple of caravan parks – with very different outcomes.
Park rules meant that Buster had to be on-lead the whole time we were in the park. This wouldn’t have been so bad, except that our pitch was right next to the camp kitchen so there were always people walking right past our tent. Adding to this we had small dogs wandering off lead into our camp as other dog owners didn’t obey the rules. Both these things tended to elicit a rather loud woof from Buster. He just wanted to play and have some attention, but coming from a 33kg bulldog, it tends to freak people out.
It was an Easter weekend so the beaches were not open to dogs while we were there (although they are open after Easter until the end of October). Being a public holiday weekend meant the town was really busy. Having Buster with us meant we could only eat at places that had tables outside – these were popular and difficult to find an empty spot.
We were able to wander around town and do the heritage walk, but weren’t able to visit Tower Hill or Griffiths Island as dogs aren’t allowed at either of these places.
Although it tended to be clear during the day, it rained most nights. By time Monday rolled around, we were all ready to come home, we could see that Buster was glad to have the lead taken off having been tied up for four days.
So although it is a lovely town, we didn’t get to see the best of it. I think if we were to visit in the off season when we could let him off lead on the beach and find it easier to get an outdoor beer bench at the pub or café it would be more enjoyable. Also, we didn’t even think to look into a dog boarding kennel while we were there, which would have allowed us to see the national park attractions.
The year after Port Fairy we decided to find a more dog friendly place. We found Best Friend Holiday Retreat in Victoria’s Gippsland region.
Each camp site is securely fenced. This means that we could have Buster off lead the whole time without fear that he’d go off with another doggy friend. They have amazing off-leash areas with toys and balls supplied. One area has an agility course where Buster proved himself more nimble that you’d expect a bulldog to be!
They have on-site day kennels so people can visit the nearby Tarra-Bulga National Park. Although just a walk along the road is very scenic too.
About a half an hour drive away is Woodside beach. This is the start of the ninety mile beach and is off-lead all year round. Buster absolutely loved the beach, even when he got caught by a surprise wave.
We didn’t spend a great deal of time in Yarram itself, but seemed to have everything you’d need. They have a festival at Easter so there was a parade and markets to check out while we were there too.
It is a very peaceful area and Craig even saw a wombat out and about in the park when he had to visit the toilet one night. All of us enjoyed this Easter more than the previous year.
Will we take Buster with us?
Most places are going to be more like our Port Fairy experience. With this in mind, we discussed whether or not to take our fur-baby Buster with us on the big lap.
We have decided not to take him with us for the following reasons:
- He would have to be on-lead or tied up almost the whole time, which he wouldn’t like
- If he was off-lead there is a chance that he could eat a 1080 (dingo) bait and die
- If he was off-lead there is a chance that he would go swimming and be taken by a crocodile
- It would be more expensive as we couldn’t camp in National Parks and would have to pay for caravan parks more often
- He doesn’t cope well in hot temperatures
- We would have to put him in kennels (which we have never done before) to visit National Parks.
- We would have to double back, possibly hundreds of extra kilometres to pick him up from kennels
- We couldn’t eat out or go to the pub unless we could find a dog-sitter
Although all these issues are surmountable, knowing that Em’s parents are prepared to look after him, and knowing that he would be happy and well cared for (not to mention spoilt) staying with them we have decided to leave him behind. We already miss him, but believe that leaving him behind is kinder than taking him with us.