ACT News

Needs of dog owners and beach-goers a 'balancing act' over summer

It's hard to keep everyone happy.

One person's dream beach is a dog-playground; for another it's an animal-free zone.

Balancing the two is an art the south coast council has had to master, with many families refusing to leave furry members of the family at home this summer.

Janette and David Sloan, with Pepper and Flynn, and Belinda Wedgwood, with Delta, enjoy their time at the beach.
Janette and David Sloan, with Pepper and Flynn, and Belinda Wedgwood, with Delta, enjoy their time at the beach. Photo: Jamila Toderas

"Of course, for every 10 passionate dog owners there probably 100 dog haters. That's the way it feels when you're in local government," Eurobodalla Shire's ranger co-ordinator Phil Clark said.

"You're not going to satisfy everybody, it's going to be a balancing act."

Flynn the golden retriever loves playing at the beach in summer.
Flynn the golden retriever loves playing at the beach in summer. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Dog lovers have nearly 50 beaches to choose from on the NSW south coast to exercise their pets.

Some, such as North Broulee, Tomakin and Narooma, allow dogs 24-hour access, while others operate on a time-share basis, with pets allowed during non-peak times.


The strip of coastline and the natural boundaries of the headlands made for ideal dog-exercise areas, Mr Clark said, and the council understands how people want to socialise with friends and dogs on the beach.

But there were sometimes environmental reasons why dogs were banned outright, such as shore bird nesting areas, or some of the more accessible beaches where elderly people and children tended to visit.

He added that in the shire there were on average two companion animals per home, "so there's a big population of voters out there who say 'we want privileges for our pets'.''

"We try to mix and match and give everybody the opportunity to have access to the beach."

For Narrabundah couple David and Janette Sloan, a big factor in their decision to buy a house near Broulee Beach was the fact their dogs Flynn and Pepper were allowed to play off-leash 24-hours a day.

The couple make the trip from Canberra nearly every weekend in summer, and say they wouldn't think of leaving the dogs behind.

"They're part of the family, so they've got to go on holidays, and it's joyful. And they're so loving, and they're happy and healthy," Mrs Sloan said.

"We throw a ball, we throw a a stick into the ocean and Flynn retrieves it because he's a retriever. As many times as he's happy to, as we're happy to do it."

Belinda Wedgwood, who was staying in a caravan at her uncle's property, said there was plenty of dog-friendly accommodation nearby and there were "dogs everywhere" at the pet-friendly beaches.

"We don't go anywhere without [Delta], all holidays are planned around the dog," Ms Wedgwood said. "She's part of the family."

For those who don't have property at the coast, pet-friendly accommodation is more available than ever, although it can book out quickly.

Mr Clark said, like fast drivers and people who litter, there was always going to be some dog owners who "stretched the friendship", for example, by not picking up after their pet.

He urged pet owners to obey the rules and respect other people when enjoying the beach this summer.