I visited Berrin / Mount Gambier with my dog in mid February 2023 and was pleasantly surprised that there was plenty to do with a dog for a weekend away!
Where to Stay with a Dog in Mount Gambier
I stayed at Blue Lake Holiday Park in a Cottage Unit which sleeps two.
I loved the room as it was recently renovated, had a nice little kitchenette for heating dog food and a big fridge for drinks and food, had plenty of space for dog beds while still being able to walk around and the bathroom floor was a drained wet area which was a great spot to keep the dog water bowl.
The room had powerful air conditioning which was handy in summer, but it also had a fire place that would be nice to curl up in front of in winter.
You need to contact them directly to book if you want to travel with a dog.
It was conveniently located for dog friendly walks, with the dog friendly walking path around Warwar / Blue Lake out the front and dog friendly walks around Ketla Malpi / Valley Lake from the caravan park back entrance.
You need to self-cater or be prepared to drive to get to restaurants and cafes.
Things to do with a dog in Mount Gambier
Mt Gambiers most famous attraction, Blue Lake/Warwar is dog friendly on lead with dog friendly lookouts you can drive to plus there is a 3.6km dog friendly loop walking track around the lake.
Also nearby to the Lake is the Northumberland Avenue dog off lead area. Keep in mind this offlead area is not fenced off from the road if your dogs recall is sporadic.
Valley Lake/Ketla Malpi Area
The park area around Valley Lake/Ketla Malpi Area is dog friendly on lead, however, you can walk them all around the valley area and there are picnic tables and bbqs. Its also a very family friendly spot, with a pretty epic playground.
While the playground is fenced and off limits to dogs, if your in a group with more than one adult or can supervise older kids from the fence this is a great family friendly and dog friendly Mt Gambier spot.
A great spot to visit if you water ski. While you can also canoe and stand up paddle board in the lake there doesnt seem to be any time limit on the water ski boats so this is not a particulary easy or peaceful activity so probably not worth bothering. We had a crack and it was a constant battle to stay upright with boat wakes.
Marks Lookout is dog friendly and located on the side of the road before the road heads downhill into the valley area near Valley Lake/Ketla Malpi. While the sun sets over the back of the hill behind you this was still a nice low effort spot for sunset, you see the Tower light up (it has lights around it at night) and we also spotted a wallaby.
If your staying at Blue Lake Holiday Park, the lookout is only a 50 metre walk from the back entrance.
A short drive or about a 750m walk up the hill from Marks Lookout is Lions Lookout. This is also the parking spot to walk up to Centennial Tower and a nice easy spot for to watch the sky change colour of the lake at sunset if you can’t be bothered or are unable to walk anywhere (like Marks Lookout, the sunsets behind the hill to the side of you so you not seeing the sunset).
Centennial Tower has access by a wide paved walking path up a steep hill from the
Mountain Trail Loop Walk – 4.2km
One of my favourite activities while in Mt Gambier was doing the Mountain Trail loop walk. Lions Lookout is a good place to start so you can get the hard hill up to Centennial Tower out of the way first!* However as it is a loop walk you could start at any of the carparks around the lake.
*(At the moment the optional detour around the hill which Centennial tower is on, which starts at Lions Lookout as the track is closed for a section beyond the tower..although plenty of people were still walking it, it’s also super weird, they closed the track uphill from the burnt trees and kept the one below it open…..)
Mt Gambier Dog Park
Mt Gambier has a fantastic off lead dog park with both a small dog and big dog side (which is fantastic if your dog plays to rough for small dogs) and there was no one else there when I visited in the middle of the day which was perfect for me, I just wanted her to have some off lead time. There are obstacles for doing some fun training or enrichment with your dog.
Cave Garden / Thugi
The Cave Garden/Thugi is dog friendly and a nice little stop and geological landmark. However while its interesting to visit I personally thought it is not as dramatic or pretty Umpherston Sinkhole (in fact there was rubbish in there when I visited, to be fair given the water runs into it and its in town so this would be hard to maintain) so you may wish to work out a way to visit Umpherston/Balumbul as well.
Mt Gambier – Partially Dog Friendly
Dogs are not allowed in the Umpherston Sinkhole/Balumbul hower they are allowed in the park around it. While this means solo travellers will unfortunately need to find an alternative arrangement if there is 2 of you at least have the option of hanging in the shady park while you take it turns of explore the Sinkhole (or be cheeky and leave your parents to dogsit at the picnic table like i did ).
There is actually wildlife like Possums and birds living in the sinkhole which is why dogs are not allowed (my family spotted a possum on the stairs on the way down)!
Things to do with a dog near Mount Gambier
There are lots of dog friendly places to visit near Mt Gambier that you can drive to and explore with your pup.
There are several walks in the Mount Schank State Heritage area, these photos are on the walk to the top of the Crater which gives you views out to the surrounding area and a view down into the crater. All three of the walks are dog friendly and the distance information is from the sign at Mt Schank. The walk to the lookout is steep so wear shoes that will give you grip on the way up and down.
The unique track design makes climbing the hill easier for dogs that may struggle with steps but it is very steep to the top.
Dog friendly Beaches near Cape Northumberland (near Port Macdonnell)
These beaches are dog friendly and I confirmed this with the council via email that they are dog friendly as long as they are under effective control.
This area is definitely worth a visit to as the coast is really dramatic, its an almost arid landscape meeting the sea. There is a winding track along the coast stopping at different beaches and lookouts. The roads in the area closest to Port Macdonnell are bitumen and suitable for a two wheel drive as far north as Finger Point Beach carpark.
I have been here before on a grey day and it was a bit underwhelming on the beach. However on my most recent visit it was low tide with the sun out it was stunning, the water sparkling and clear. So try and time your visit for low tide on a sunny day.
I actually didn’t visit Cape Northumberland (South Australias southern most point) however its an easy stop in a nearby carpark.
Dog friendly resources & references
City of Mount Gambier (the council) has a handy Pet Guide PDF that has easy to read tables of where dogs are allowed to visit as well as where to find off lead areas for your dog to have a run around. https://cdn.mountgambier.sa.gov.au/docs/Pet-Guide-30.06.2020.pdf