In 2004, my parents drove through Torquay on the way back from Lorne and fell in love with the place. So, they gave up on their dream of owning a caravan and bought a block of land overlooking Jan Juc beach. Eventually, that block of land became a house, and we’ve been driving up and down like yo-yos ever since.
We always have a puppy in tow, so I thought I’d share some of our favourite dog-friendly things to do along the coast. While beach restrictions were a nightmare at first, we’ve finally got our pup’s itinerary down pat (pun intended). So here are some of the best beaches, cafes and markets for you and your four-legged friend to enjoy this summer.
There’s nothing better than taking your pup off the leash and letting it run free. But the council has some pretty strict rules in place which means all dogs need to be harnessed unless they’re in a designated off leash area. Luckily, Torquay is home to some mighty fine dog beaches where your pet can frolic in the sand and sniff fellow dogs all year round. The most popular is White’s Beach, just a kilometre or two down the esplanade. But our favourite is definitely Jan Juc, near the golf course, half way between Moon Bay and Rocky Point. There are no life-savers around, so dogs are on paw patrol as you hit the surf. And don’t worry if they let one rip, because there are plenty of pooper-scopper bags you can pick up from the ‘pooch post’ as you walk in.
One of the regular bazaars in Torquay is the Cowrie Market which takes place on the third Sunday of every month. There are over 100 stalls, selling local art, craft and jewellery, with a heap of food trucks, live music and shady spots for your dog to rest. From English Staffies to Siberian Huskies, there is a huge selection of dogs to meet as they gaze across Zeally Bay and munch on their kangaroo liver treats.
Another great dog-friendly outing is the Torquay Farmer’s market which takes place every Saturday morning from 8:30am to 1:00pm, in the Surf Coast Shire’s carpark. With a range of fresh local produce and artisan bread, you’ll find everything you need to make an Instagram worthy breakfast. But don’t forget a reusable tote because the Torquay Farmer’s Market is plastic bag free!
Despite being an hour and a half away from Melbourne, coffee is still a huge part of the surf coast lifestyle. But a smashed avo and soy latte isn’t the same without your best mate sitting by your side. So, if you’ve gone for a morning jog, don’t forget to stop at The Salty Dog Café and fuel up on their delicious cold press juices and bagels. There are always plenty of dogs around and each one has its own water dish, so you’ll feel right at home, overlooking Fisherman’s Bay.
The Nightjar festival is a local icon. For the first eight weeks of every year, Torquay and Geelong transform into live music destinations complete with roaming performers, craft markets and food trucks. From Barvarian burgers to Dutch pancakes, there is a huge selection of food items to choose from, along with some of the region’s best boutique craft beer and wine. At the heart of the festival is an impressive line-up of musicians including The Kite Machine and Libby Steel, so kick back and enjoy the sounds of summer with your best mate.