Dog Friendly Bush Walks & Cafes in the Dandenong Ranges

Dandenong Ranges dog-friendly walks, that are also wonderful for their owners, can be found despite the fact that we are surrounded by a few thousand acres of National Park. We even have some great dog-friendly cafes.

These dog friendly hikes are some of the best places to take your dog near Melbourne and around Victoria. We have researched all these bushwalks as we have a dog ourselves and each one is well worth doing as they all offer something a little different – tall forests, views, creeks and undulating terrain.

11 of the Best Dog-Friendly walking tracks near Melbourne

Rules and conditions can change, please let us know if any of these tracks have signage restricting access for dogs. Please also abide by rules, most bush tracks are on-lead only, walk number 11 is the place to let your dog off-lead to romp.

  1. Mathias Track: Easy
  2. Rock Track Circuit Walk: 3 km’s | 1 Hour Easy
  3. Rock Track- Mathias Track Circuit Walk: 6 km’s Easy > Moderate Walk
  4. Glenfern Valley Bushlands: 6km’s Easy > Moderate
  5. Birdsland Reserve: Easy Walk
  6. The Tan Track: Sherbrooke. 2.7 km | 40 mins | Easy Walk
  7. Dandenong Ranges Tourist Track – Sassafras to Emerald – 15km, one-way/ 5 hours | Moderate Walk
  8. Emerald to Cockatoo – 12kms return | Easy > Moderate
  9. Silvan to Mt Evelyn: Olinda Creek Walking Track – 9.2kms return |  Easy > Moderate
  10. Cardinia Reservoir Park – 3 km’s | 1 Hour along Messmate Track | Easy > Moderate Walks
  11. Old Olinda Golf Course Dog Park – Off-lead area with stunning views across the valley.
Part of the Emerald to Gembrook Walk - dog friendly, horses and bikes.
Part of the Emerald to Gembrook Walk – dog-friendly, horses and bikes.

More dog-friendly walks near Melbourne

  • Liverpool Road Retarding Basin This is a really nice place to walk, it follows around a small lake and walkers can either follow the entire outer circuit of cut through the middle on a few different paths. It always seems to have plenty of enthusiastic walkers out and the views across to the Dandenongs are super. Get Directions
  • Lilydale Lake is another good walking area. Dog walkers can follow the path around the lake, on-lead, and then let the dogs run off the leash at the far end where there is a small creek they can swim in and even an agility type course. Get Directions to the dog off-lead area.

The best off-lead dog walk near Melbourne is in the Dandenong Ranges – Old Olinda Golf Course

The Olinda golf course ceased being used to play golf some years ago and is currently being used by many people for walking, with and without dogs. It is an expansive area with stunning views, pack a picnic maybe and enjoy this special spot. From the golf course, it is easy to connect with Rock Track and the Hamer Arboretum (on-lead).

Another great spot for off-lead walking is in Emerald at ‘Pepis Land’ Find the location on our map.

Image of views from Olinda Golf Course Dog Park
Spectacular views and acres of off-lead dog walking on the old Olinda golf course.

Dog-Friendly Parks and Gardens in the Dandenong Ranges

Some of our parks and gardens do allow dogs-onlead, which is wonderful. Rules can change though, so please always read regulations at the entry points before taking your dog in.
Currently, the Alfred Nicholas Gardens, George Tindale and Pirianda Gardens allow well-behaved pooches in, always on lead. These two gardens are stunning in the Autumn and wonderful all year round. The Mt Dandenong Arboretum is another lovely spot too.

Dog-Friendly Accommodation – Dandenong Ranges

Dog-friendly accommodation is available staying with some of the best bed and breakfast hosts in the hills.

Please pay attention to any rules that accommodation hosts ask when taking your dog on holiday, this will be polite and also mean that these accommodation options should remain dog-friendly.

Dog Beach Melbourne

Who’d have thought we had 14 dog-friendly beaches around the bay and Mornington Peninsula? We even have a couple of horse/pony friendly beaches, one in Mordialloc!

Dog-Friendly Beaches – The Great Ocean Road

Down along the Great Ocean Road we have some great all year round off-leash beaches for dogs.


Dogs / Animals on Public Transport from PTV Website

Animals can travel subject to the following conditions:

Metropolitan services

Dogs must be muzzled and on leads to be permitted on metropolitan trains.

Other small animals are permitted on the metropolitan train, tram and bus, provided that they are carried in an approved animal container. For approved animal containers, please see V/Line guidelines below.

Animals other than dogs and assistance animals are not allowed to travel on public transport unless they are carried in an approved container as stated above.

It is strongly advised that customers with dogs do not travel on weekdays between 7 am and 9 am and between 4 pm and 6 pm.

Read more from the Public Transport Victoria  Website

Dog-friendly walks. Dog Walking Rules Dandenong Ranges
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31 thoughts on “Dog Walking Near Melbourne”

    • Hi Alberto, Yes, I certainly can and had been meaning to since walking around there a few weeks ago. Thanks for the reminder.

  1. Hi Jane,have you checked with local council if the Olinda golf course is actually a registered “off lead” park? I can’t see it mentioned on their website.Ive heard there’s been a lot of dog attacks there,with dogs attacking other dogs who are on lead..Very expensive and upsetting situation if it’s not an off lead park.Would just like to know if you knew it was for sure.

    • Hi Mark, It is definitely allowed to walk dogs off-lead on the old golf course currently, even if not officially stated. I walk there almost every day and have never seen or heard of any dogs attacking other dogs in a way that caused concerns. I have certainly never heard of anyone incurring expenses from a dog attack. Most dogs revel in the freedom and play time with other dogs and the social interaction of dogs and walkers is great. Plans to develop the area and install a sports field, cafe, and a playground will change the way areas can be used before too long, though an off lead area is apparently being designated further down the course.

    • Hi

      I have looked on the parks Victoria website and it says you only can walk your dogs on the tan track and in the Dandenongs Arboretum. Is that right? Can you walk them anywhere else? Just want some clarification.


      • The places listed on our dog-friendly walks page do allow dogs on leads, including a few of the gardens. The old golf course is an unofficial area that Parks Vic definitely approves of currently, though development plans will mean the area will be defined further at some stage. It is important that they are kept on a lead on tracks.

    • I noticed they have started a road near the Rhodie Gardens side. It will certainly be changing.

      • Hi there, we are planning to take our pooch for the first time to the dandenongs for a walk. We were hoping to go off lead at Old Olinda golf course. Is it still permitted or has the changes already started? If so, we will go to Mathias track.

        • Hi, Michelle, you can still go to the old golf course! some work has started on a fence that has rather divided the fairway to the left, by the Rhododendron Gardens. Walk from the old clubhouse, straight down as the views are great. Mathias Track meets at the lowest, left side, corner of the golf course, so you can always do a circuit!

    • It will certainly be changing at the old golf course, though, I think the off-lead area will still be open and not fenced off. It’s quite a large area down below, hopefully, it will not be changed too much. My optimistic views… We often talk to people who used to play golf there and they are sad to see it change too.

  2. Hi there I’m just wondering what dog friendly walking tracks you have listed actually allow the dogs off lead..?

    Thx, josh

    • Hi Josh, All the forest walks require dogs on a lead but the Old Olinda golf course allows dogs to romp and really enjoy themselves. It is the best place of all as the views are stunning and quite a few people go there, so there will almost always be some ‘new friends and besties’ for your dog too. It is on the Olinda-Monbulk Road, just past the recreation oval.

  3. I’ve seen no dogs allowed on the fire trail but it doesn’t appear to be a council sign ..
    Any idea if someone has just stuck it there or if there is actual law in force able?

    • I did check with Parks Vic and they said no dogs are allowed on that side of the mountain at all. Such a shame as so many people could access it from the suburbs below.

  4. Hi Jane
    Looking for places to walk /hike moderate to hard level with my pooch but also dog on lead only. not off lead ?

    • You are most welcome, Marigold. I am happy that the article is proving useful. We are so lucky to have wonderful trails that are dog-friendly.

    • Thank you, Miss Jilly. Glad you have found it handy, it’s amazing how many miles of tracks we can take dogs on!

  5. Hello, i am looking to take my two huskies for a weekend to the Dandenong’s. Can anyone suggest a place to stay that is dog friendly and an area where they would enjoy some snow underfoot. Thanks in advance. Caroline

    • Hi Caroline, Perhaps you could look for dog-friendly places to stay on as they have a refine option to search for specific needs? As for snow, we get a little up here but not a lot generally… I think you may be able to take them to the lookout area on Mt Donna Buang when there is snow, need to check, though.

  6. Hi could you please tell me whether we can take our dog along to the Montrose (Glasgow rd) fire trail walk, at Mt Dandenong

    • Hello, I have not seen any signs allowing dog walking on the fire Trail or any of the trails on that side of the mountain. Rather a shame as people living down that side of the mountain would love to have access for walking their dogs.
      You can go on the Track from Mt Evelyn to Silvan though, it is a great walk.

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National Rhododendron Gardens, (Dandenong Ranges Botanic Gardens) Olinda - Gardens near Melbourne