Dogs are people too.
Such is the premise behind this list of pooch-friendly swimming spots in NSW, compiled by Caroline Clements & Dillon Seitchik-Reardon. The writer/photographer couple have travelled the country researching and road-testing every ocean pool and waterfall, and collated their findings into two sublime coffee table books, Places We Swim: Australia, and their new release, Places We Swim: Sydney.
And if there’s one thing Sydneysiders love as much as a dip in the sea, it’s dogs. But the two don’t always go hand in hand. “Sydney’s abundant beaches and national parks are glorious for people, but a tough place for dogs who are either not allowed or only on leash,” the duo explain. “These are some of our favourite places where dogs are allowed.”
North Curl Curl lagoon
Dogs might not be permitted on North Curl Curl beach, a stunning spot on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, but an off-leash dog area awaits behind the dunes at Adam Street Reserve. “Often you’ll see a few more [dogs] down on the sand near the lagoon,” say Clements and Seitchik-Reardon. “It’s not officially condoned but it’s an absolute pleasure to see dogs let loose. Kelpies herd children into tight groups, Labs swim after sticks and Jack Russells quiver with anticipation at the mere suggestion of a ball.”
This charming bay in leafy green Mosman, on Sydney’s lower north shore, is a mecca for canines. Unleashed dogs are permitted in the park, on the beach and in the water all day from Monday to Friday; on the weekend this is restricted to before 9am and after 4pm.
Find this hidden gem near Parsley Bay, Vaucluse, in Sydney’s east. “It took us a few trips to find the entrance,” admits Clements. “Follow Wharf Road until it dead ends at the Vaucluse Amateur Sailing Club. Go right up to the building and look left. There is a very narrow set of stairs leading to the beach. Descend the steps and open the gate at the bottom (it should be unlocked). Follow the narrow path along the wall to the sand. The best bit – it’s dog friendly.”
Set in the Southern Highlands, this huge, otherworldly gorge is dotted with sparkling swimming holes, including the must-visit Mermaid Pools. The area is secluded and perfectly pet-friendly – though you’ll need to bushwalk to reach the water, and some parts aren’t suitable for small children.
While dogs are required to stay on leash on the famed Bondi-to-Bronte walk, they can run free on this glorious pop-up beach in Tamarama. “It’s a dog-friendly, ephemeral beach that only appears every couple of years when the right combination of wind and swell deposit sand on the normally rocky reef,” explain the authors. “They say you aren’t a local until you’ve seen the sand at Mackenzies.”