last days of summer + pet-friendly holidays in WA


Summer died on Saturday. Well, in a metaphorical sense, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere like I do. This Sunday marked the first day of autumn; generally characterized by falling leaves (hence ‘fall’ in North America), cooler temperatures and truckloads of pumpkin spice markedly shorter days.

At the moment, though, we’re still in the transitional stage. This morning dawned with both sunshine and heat. I’m still sipping ice water from my favourite glass as the kettle gathers dust on the kitchen counter. Unless, of course, my mum comes over. She would drink tea during summer in Death Valley*.

*since I was a wee bairn, she’s been telling me that drinking hot drinks on a hot day can cool you down. Well mum, apparently the Smithsonian agrees!


Aaron and I were determined to make the most of summer this year. We had grand plans for many a beach volleyball night alongside road trips, seaside picnics and barbecues by the pool. Although we failed on the volleyball front, we did manage to squeeze in a few blissful picnics (evidence found here and here).

We also took two summer road trips down to the south of Western Australia, initially in Cowaramup (with an excited Loki) and more recently, with some amazing friends at the seaside village of Gracetown. We laughed, talked, swam, explored the Margaret River heritage trail, ate local cheese and sipped Cabernet Sauvignon from a local vineyard.

You can see pictures from both trips via my much-better-attended Instagram account (@laurasmess). For simplicity’s sake, the majority of images included in this post are from our first summer road trip which sprawled over an idyllic, sunbathed week in January.


Being our first trip ‘down south’ with Loki, we spent a little bit of time planning a dog-friendly itinerary for the week. First up was the job of finding suitable pet-friendly accommodation within reasonable distance of the beach, shops and wineries. After a bit of research, we found a perfect cottage through airbnb owned by a lovely local couple in Cowaramup (12km North of Margaret River). Their own dog, Karri, was both gentle and playful, providing bonus companionship for Loki throughout the week.

Our host, Maria, was more than generous with tips for local dog-friendly dining and activities, even offering to mind Loki if we wanted to visit a venue that didn’t accommodate him. Both Aaron and I wholeheartedly recommend Maria and Dan’s place to general travelers and pet owners alike (though I will stress that we brought Loki after prior negotiation with Maria – if you’re thinking of bringing your pet, please do the same).


Australia’s south west is pretty much heaven in terms of natural beauty. Our little apartment dog had the most incredible week of rambling through the Australian bush, barking at cows and digging in snow white sand. I’ve included a few pictures of his ‘new experiences’ below (alongside a few more on Instagram including this video).

Scroll down to ‘dog friendly options in the south west’ if you’d prefer!

1. Bushwalking 

traillauraazlokiwalkhutwalkway walk

2. Introduction to the Beach

footprint lokicu feet stufflokiprintsazloki

3. Meeting a cow (from the safety of the car!)

lokicow3 lokicow4 lokicow2 lokicow1

Dog Friendly Options in the South West 

There’s a wealth of scatty information on pet-friendly south west facilities on the internet. This list was slightly useful but… well, you can’t really group pets and children into the same category (many facilities allow children but not dogs. Fair enough too).

Aaron and I spent most of our time meandering about the Cowaramup, Gracetown, Dunsborough and Margaret River areas, so naturally the suggestions below reflect that.

Eating Out:

White Elephant Beach Cafe – Gnarabup. This little kiosk serves amazing cafe fare and great coffee right on the beach. Their cafe space consists of concrete and durable plastic, so despite losing a few points on style, it’s fantastically user-friendly. Perfect for sandy feet, wet dogs, enthusiastic children and beach walkers alike.

Sea Gardens – Prevelly. This well-loved local cafe specializes in big breakfasts, wood-fired pizzas and French-inspired evening fare (reflecting the heritage of owner/chef Gilles England-Brassy). We only visited for a Thursday sundowner with beer and pizza (below), but would wholeheartedly recommend the space for both style and dog-friendliness.



Yallingup Coffee Company – Dunsborough. This sprawling coffee shop provides only limited dining options (mainly cakes, muffins and slices) but the coffee alone is worth a visit.

Blue Ginger – Margaret River. An amazing continental delicatessen and cafe housed in what used to be a local cheese factory. Pick up some homewares, bulk goods, house-ground peanut butter and a creamy organic coffee. There’s a reasonable sized outdoor verandah to house both you and your fur-kid (get there early!).

The Bakery – Margaret River. One of my absolute favourite places to visit each time we travel down south. Fantastic baked goods, great coffee and a rambling verandah to explore. We sat with Loki out the front of the cafe, nestled into a pre-loved couch (sorry, someone’s grandma). I recommend the avocado with marinated goats cheese.

Samudra – Dunsborough. A gorgeous, holistic cafe in the heart of Dunsborough town offering both yoga classes and raw, organic, paleo, vegan-friendly and gluten free options for diners. Visit and explore their own biodynamic garden for yourself.

3 Oceans Cafe (formerly Palandri) – Cowaramup. This lovely cafe has a lot of outdoor shade, soccer goals and a green expanse of grass to use as part of your winery experience. The cellar door itself isn’t particularly dog-friendly but you can always buy a cheese platter and enjoy a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in the garden.

Clancy’s Fish Pub – Dunsborough. For delicious local beers, premium fish and chips, the occasional woodfired pizza and local seafood. There’s an awesome outside play area and a meandering bush trail for children and dogs alike.

beers chips

Wineries and Breweries:

Despite the presence of many ‘wine dogs’ in the south west region, not all wineries allow the general public to bring dogs onto their premises. We had a little bit of trouble initially but managed to find some firm favourites.

Stella Bella – Margaret River. Hands-down the friendliest, loveliest cellar door we visited. Loki was treated like an old friend. The wines are absolutely brilliant also, make sure you try the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon and delicious 2010 Suckfizzle Sauvignon Blanc Semillion.

Bush Shack Brewery – Yallingup. The most dog friendly brewery in the region (in my opinion). Awesome chilli pilsener, generous share plates and a well-equipped play area for the children. As long as your dog has a lead, he/she is welcome.

Cowaramup Brewing Company – Cowaramup. Great pilsener and a pretty tasty Hefeweizen. There are some great outdoor benches to sit at and while away the afternoon.

*Don’t bother attempting to take your dog to Eagle Bay Brewing, Colonial Brewing, Bootleg or the Duckstein. You’ll be heading for disappointment (they’re amazing venues though – go local craft beer!).

beach3 beachIf you’re a fellow dog owner who has journeyed in the south west, feel free to add any other suggestions that I’ve missed below. The more information, the better!

Happy autumn, friends.


41 responses

  1. I have to say that I was always taught (from my mum too) that a hot cuppa tea cooled you down in a scorcher of a day. I think I agree! What a sweetchops of a dogger. Those hot chips look great.

  2. My mother would give the same advice about hot drinks on hot days. Then again, she also thinks that sleeping with wet hair causes colds.

    Loki is so adorable. It looks like you had a fantastic summer. I love that you always squeeze the most out of life and this beautiful part of the world.

    • My mum always said the same about sleeping with wet hair!! Maybe it’s a generational thing? We definitely try to make the most of each season that comes, but I have to say that I often pay for it with exhaustion. If only I could quit full-time work to make the most of the rest of life ;) Thanks lovely xx

  3. Although I have never had tea, like your mother, I drink hot cocoa every day of the year no matter how hot it is. I can’t say for sure that it makes me cooler, but it is very comforting!

    Laura, the photos in this post are lovely and I especially like the ones of Loki looking a the cattle! Hope your autumn is long and drawn out. When we lived in New England, it was my favorite season.

    • Hot cocoa is definitely comforting. I like having a cup in the evenings to relax in front of the television, though in summer it usually becomes ‘iced chocolate’! Thanks so much David, we will definitely enjoy our autumn… it’s one of my favourite seasons of the year, too. Hope that you and Mark are doing well :)

  4. I don’t even know where to start about the cuteness of Loki and that first “introduction to the beach” shot. He is spectacular! Our Beso is such a beach hound now, digging and running and, much to our dismay, chasing the occasional desert fox. So lovely to go on holiday with you, Laura!

    • Thanks Stacy!! So glad that you enjoyed the Loki post! He’s such a little darling, heaps of fun to travel with. I do need to keep trying with the beach though, he liked the sand but was pretty intimidated by the waves (being a little dog!). I might try him with a swimming pool and see if he enjoys that better. Oh, and desert foxes….! Wow! I keep forgetting how different our worlds are, the most exciting thing we’d see at the beach is a gull! x

  5. Oh how gorgeous, Loki is totally growing up now! I just adore all of that hair everywhere. Super cute. Holidays are so much better when the fur kids can come along

  6. Wow, Loki the explorer! There’ll be no stopping him now … PLUS he’s Clemmie sized: the perfect size, of course :) What a sweetie he is, I can’t imagine any place not being “dog friendly” when they saw he was with you. *sigh* … so cute.

    I’m so glad you had some lovely travels. I think post Christmas is a good time to get away, banish the new year blues and all that (although I don’t know if January blues is phenomenon in Australia, when you’re in the middle summer? Is just a European thing with all our rain and coldness?). Me and the padres took a week off in France which was nice, picked up some nice French things, you know, cheese, cheese, a bit of crème fraîche, more cheese … actually, we were pretty restrained with the dairy. I got 12 kilos of apples though …

    More pics of Loki please!! I can’t follow your Instagram as I have no internet on the old portable telephone, what what, but I’m still loving the photos :)


    • I know what you mean, he’s so cute that I wanted to push the rules a little bit – haha! The UK is WAY more pet friendly than Australia, we’re not allowed to take dogs into pubs or on public transport unless they’re actually guide dogs. It’s all under Health and Safety legislation I think.

      As for January blues? Nope, it’s definitely not a thing over here! I think we get the blues during winter when there are no public holidays (about July-ish) although we can’t really complain about lack of sun. There does tend to be a portion of winter sun regardless of how cold it is.

      Ah, your European holiday sounds amazing…! Definitely cheese and creme fraiche when in France! I was tempted to just eat all of their beautiful little yoghurts too, they’re packaged so nicely :) You must let me know what you’ve done with all of those apples (haha, your parents must go mad with all the fruit that you squirrel away!).

      All of the recent Loki pictures have been added with you in mind… oh, are you on facebook Trixabelle? If so we should definitely friend it up (even just so you can look at my Loki pictures!) xxx

  7. We are all over the tea even on the hottest of days in our family!
    I love seeing your summer from a ‘Loki-eye perspective’. His curious little face is so gorgeous and it sounds like he is the perfect travel companion :)

  8. Awesome photos as usual! I was just thinking the other day about asking you where you stay with Loki when you head south! Although he is probably a little easier to manage than the crazy dog we own! haha Sad to say I didn’t head south at all this summer :(

    • Ah Matt! Well, I guess you and A did have little Max to take care of over the past couple of months. Maybe you can take him down south during winter, let him roam in the bush and then all three of you can curl up by the fire in the evenings (with some good whisky or red wine!). It’s beautiful at all times of year!

  9. Those chips tho….Gorgeous photos and cutie pie Loki! This is my kind of an outing, love hiking the natural trails and just being outside, I think im ready for some green in my life…. Been an awful lot of white lately…the soft, wet fluffy kind.
    Great, informational post Laura. Hope you’re well xx

    • Thanks lovely, it was pretty fun to write as well! I appreciate you stopping by here, I’ve been awfully neglectful of my blog reading recently (a product of still having no laptop – I am sneaking in these replies on my work PC during lunchbreak!). Hope that you are doing well too, despite the cold and wet! Let’s hope Spring will arrive soon Nazneen xxx

  10. I love especially that first picture of your lovely dog with paw prints in the sand, Laura! Looks like a little adventurer on its path. This has surely been a wonderful trip both for humans and for pets :-). Over here, spring is at the doors instead of autumn, and it’s the same like you descripe it for your place: we’re somewhere in between, meteorologocially. Love that time, it is so full of happy anticipation of things who are not yet there, but won’t be long until they finally arrive. Asparagus over here for example – only one month away now, yippee! – and pumpkins (and many more) in Australia, I guess . Have a wonderful autumn time!

    • Aw thanks Claudia, it was so much fun to explore the outdoors for a few days! I am glad that you and Arne are now at the verge of Springtime, how wonderful!!! Then it’ll be summer in Berlin and almost one year since we met – how time flies by (we have been home for almost six months now!!). I will look forward to the beautiful Spring produce on your blog over the next few weeks, whilst you’ll see me using pumpkins and winter veg ;) So funny to be on opposite sides of the world. Take care my dear friend, miss you! xxx

  11. Wow- great photos. When I first saw WA I immediately thought WA state (where I live) and thought WHAATTT? Know you have a place to visit if you venture north of Seattle to the San Juan Islands in WA state.
    It looks like a great trip you and your not so new guy had. Dog parenting is awesome:)

    • Oh yes, I definitely know what you mean Wendy! I didn’t even think of the state of WA over the other side of the world… I think I often forget that it’s not just Aussies reading this! And yep, Loki is so much fun. SO lucky to be his parents! :)

  12. Gorgeous post. I need a vaycay after seeing this. The cute doggie/cow photos; pizza/bear photos; hiking photos – love them. Reminds me very much of the beautiful, carefree vacations with my husband and little dog (before the three kids – now vacations are a bit different, still special). I know so little about Australia, other than the fact my sister-in-law married an Australian, watching every episode of Offspring – and your blog. I think I wouldn’t mind a stay in your country one bit – beautiful people, land and food! Thanks for sharing!

    • Aw thanks Shanna, I know what you mean about changes… my husband and I are considering trying for kids in the next year or so but I am daunted at the idea of our lives drastically changing! I know it’s all worth it, but very different. Haha… believe it or not, I have never watched Offspring! I didn’t know it was popular overseas, that’s pretty cool (my girlfriends love it). I do love my homeland though. I hope you’ll have a chance to visit one day. Probably one of the most relaxed, friendly places in the world ;) x

      • I discovered Offspring by accident – not many people know about it – love it and Homeland. There is a new show, DIG, by the producer of Homeland #GideonRaff. It’s amazing, amazing, amazing. You can probably stream it on Amazon. Kids… worth it! :-)

      • Haha, thanks lovely. I love hearing from parents who have a balanced perspective on parenting. I definitely understand that it’s worth any sacrifice that comes about. Watch this space! x

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