16 Nov. 2021
by Penny Harrison
Looking for a fun day out? Don’t want to leave your fur baby behind? From agility courses to doggy-cinos, Nillumbik offers a range of pet-friendly activities that’s sure to have tails wagging.
If your pup is feeling energetic, there are several picturesque bushwalks that allow for dogs on leash. Try Boomers Nature Reserve at Panton Hill or Gawa Wurundjeri Resource Walk at Christmas Hills, both tranquil trails with plenty for your pooch to sniff at. You can also venture along the Diamond Creek Walking Trail, on the banks of the Diamond Creek, and visit the large, fenced Diamond Creek Dog Park. Complete with shady trees and landscaped bush gardens, the park has three separate play areas. There’s an agility course with 12 separate elements to develop different training skills and even a quiet area for smaller pups or those in need of a doggy time-out. Fergusons Paddock, in Hurstbridge, has a fenced dog park, complete with grassy areas, muddy puddles and a basket of old tennis balls for playing fetch. Griffith Park in Eltham also has an off-leash area and a pretty track along the Yarra River with a favourite canine swimming spot. The nearby Eltham Lower Park, which backs on to the Yarra River, is another great place for dogs to cool off on a hot day.
When you’re ready for a caffeine hit or a gourmet lunch, you’ll find many cafes, restaurants and wineries that cater for dogs and their doting owners. In Hurstbridge, Bridge 2 Eden, Heart & Soul, Black Vice Café & Roastery and Wombat Café all have an open-door pooch policy with relaxing outdoor-dining areas, fresh-water bowls, friendly staff and the occasional doggy treat. There’s even a dog grooming salon (4 the Love of Dogs) next door to the Wombat Café if your pooch is in need of a pamper. At Smiths Gully Store, you can order a chef’s special doggy-chino of warm frothed lactose-free milk with a sprinkling of gravy powder on top, while Golden Hills Brewery, in Diamond Creek, has a bowl of doggy treats at the entrance. For the wine connoisseur, Nillumbik Estate and Panton Hill Winery are perfect places to sniff, swirl and spit with your best friend. Panton Hill Winery has even been known to let dogs indoors by the fire on particularly cold days.
It’s a rare treat to find somewhere to shop with your best friend by your side. The Hurstbridge Farmers Market welcomes dogs on lead and offers plenty of goodies for you and your pooch. Held in the grounds of Hurstbridge Primary School, the market features a range of stallholders selling free-range meats (including pork, beef and buffalo), fresh seasonal fruit and vegetables, olives and extra virgin olive oil, honey, eggs, cheeses, bread, wine, gluten-free products and a range of specialty produce from the area. There are also art and craft stalls, as well as food vans selling everything from poffertjes to hot dogs. Be sure to stop by the Doggy Devoted stall for loads of yummy dog treats and pay a visit to the Team Tigger stall to learn all about their good work in rescuing dogs and other animals in need. The market is held on the first Sunday of every month (except January), from 8.30am to 1pm. The village of Hurstbridge, surrounded by bush, is a delightful place to wander with your dog on lead. Many of the shop have water bowls outside and poles for tying up your pooch while you pop in for a bit of retail therapy. Just remember, wherever you go, to clean up after your pup.