Dogs can enhance any outdoor experience. Dogs have a natural, unyielding desire to explore; so, it's not surprising that we want to take our dogs everywhere with us. Next time you go outdoors, bring your dog along to one of these dog-friendly places.

Where can I take my dog around Townsville?

Many state forests, as well as Townsville City Council land, allow domesticated pets. You can not however, take domesticated pets into any national park. This includes, but is not limited to, Paluma Range National Park, Bowling Green Bay National Park, Magnetic Island National Park, and Hinchinbrook Island National Park. Before you set out, please check which parks and forests permit dogs on leash.

Mount Stuart dog walking
Mount Stuart - Photo credit Scott Harte

Why can't you take your dogs into National Parks?

It is prohibited because it is destructive. There are countless cases documenting cats and dogs that have killed native animals, even causing them to flee their homes. But, even the most well-behaved, domesticated animals can cause harm. The sight and smell of even the most placid, domesticated animal can be enough to cause native animals stress, in some cases, enough stress to cause them to abandon their young. Moreover, native animals can easily catch diseases and viruses that pets may carry; so, it's important to avoid exposing native wildlife to domesticated animals as much as possible.

Dog at Ross River, Townsville
Ross River - Photo credit Neil Olsen

Responsible Pet Parent Guidelines

Unfortunately, irresponsible pet owners are probably one of the major reasons we are no longer able to take our four-legged buddies out unleashed to magical places. So, when we do find places where it is permitted to take our pets, here are some guidelines to consider:

  • Have your pet on a leash at all times, unless you are in an allocated off-leash area, there are no native animals around, and/or you are very unlikely to encounter another person while on your trip.
  • Pick up after your dog. Most of us are happy to clean up after our best friends; unfortunately, some are not. No one likes the smell of dog faeces, let alone standing in it. Take a bag along with you, and use it! Dispose of the waste appropriately.
  • Pack food and water for your pet, and avoid going out during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Ensure that your pet does not wander away, as they could damage the local flora or fauna.
Adventure dog
Adventure dog - Photo credit Scott Harte

What are some adventures we can do?

These outdoor locations are great for both you and your furry friend to get outdoors, breath fresh air, and exercise together.

AFTER WORK WALKS

Mount Louisa
There are a few walking tracks up Mount Louisa only a few kilometres in distance. Mount Louisa is probably the most popular place to walk with your dog before or after work. Allow around one to two hours to explore.

Dog walking track at Mount Louisa, Townsville
Mount Louisa - Photo credit Katherine Galligan

Roseneath and Wulguru Hills
Slightly overgrown, these dirt tracks make for a nice escape for you and your buddy.

Douglas MTB Reserve
Dogs will have to remain on leashes on these trails, and please give way to riders.

Castle Hill
The popular, yet beautiful trails of Castle Hill are a great place to exercise with your dog. Sticking to the less frequented trails means that you get to spend more relaxed time with your buddy and less time controlling them around other people.

Mount Stuart
Mount Stuart offers some spectacular views over Townsville, but there are some large cliffs; so, be sure your dog stays away from the edge.

Dog walking at Mount Stuart
Mount Stuart - Photo credit Scott Harte

Hervey Range
Havery's Marbles and the old highway (Page's Road) are some more ideas for mini-adventures with your pet.

Bouldering with dogs at Harvey's Marbles
Bouldering with dogs - Photo credit Scott Harte

Ross River pathway
Ross River pathway is a perfect place to let your dog have a swim.

Dog walking on the grassy Ross River, Townsville
Ross River - Photo credit Neil Olsen

Rowes Bay, Palleraranda, Shelly Beach
Run up and down the sandy beaches of Rowes Bay, or walk along the concrete footpath. Explore some of the track around the forts, grave site, and Shelly Beach.

Beach dog walking Townsville
'Stella' on the beach at Rowes Bay - Photo credit Csilla Peto

Crystal Creek
Downstream of Crystal Creek, outside the bounds of the Paluma Range National Park, are several areas to explore with your dog.

Playing fetch on the beach
Playing fetch on the beach - Photo credit Caitlin Thomas

WEEKEND ADVENTURES

Beaches
Many of the beaches along the coast, including Bushland, Toomulla, Insulator, and Balgal Beaches, are great places to walk with your best friend.

Walking dog at Shelly Beach
Shelly Beach - Photo credit Neil Olsen

Magnetic Island excursion
Maggie has plenty of pathways to walk, but be sure to stay out of Magnetic Island National Park, which encompasses 54% of the island.

Magnetic Island's dog-friendly beaches include West Point, Picnic Bay, Geoffrey Bay, Nelly Bay, and Horseshoe Bay Beaches. As long as your dog remains on a leash, they are allowed on any Townsville City Council managed beach, unless a sign suggests otherwise.

Dogs are permitted on the SeaLink ferries between Townsville and Magnetic Island as foot passengers but they must remain muzzled. Dogs are also permitted in cars on the barge that is operated through Magnetic Island Ferries (Fantasea).

Magnetic Island dog adventure
Magnetic Island - Photo credit Hue Plumtree

Keelbottom Creek
Just past Hervey Range is Keelbottom Creek, which is a great spot to setup camp for the weekend and relax.

Big Bend and Flat Rock (Charters Towers)
Both Big Bend and Flat Rock offer perfects place to camp, fish, and drive. You could also take a stroll along the river's edge, but be aware of crocodiles.

Hidden Valley area
There is a spot along Running River where you can take a break from driving on your long road trips. It's just off Laroona Ewan Road, and it's a perfect place to stretch yours and your dog's legs to break up your journey.

Hidden Valley dog adventure
Hidden Valley area - Photo credit Scott Harte

TRAVELLERS

Crystal Creek Camping
Crystal Creek beach camping is shady, dispersed bush camping north of Crystal Creek set between wetland area and the ocean beach. There's a boat ramp at Crystal Creek for the anglers. However, there are no facilities. So, campers will need to arrive fully self-sufficient. The site is free with room for caravans, trailers, and tent-based camping.

Balgal Beach North
Balgal Beach rest area, which is north of Townsville, is a beachside campground next to an estuary with good, basic facilities. Shaded by casuarina trees, the free site is great for the traveling public and is suitable for trailers, caravans, and tent-based camping. However, there is a 48 hour stay limit. There is a kiosk (Fisherman's Landing) that sells just about everything, and the boat ramp makes this a very popular spot for the traveling public and keen anglers.

Toolakea beach dog walk
Toolakea - Photo credit Katherine Galligan

Toomulla Beach
Toomulla Beach rest area is a large shady, creek front rest area close to town and the beach. It has basic facilities including toilets, non-potable water, bins, BBQ's, boat ramp, and a playground. It is suitable for caravans, trailers, vans, and tent-based camping. Perfect for large and small groups. Close to Townsville, this free camping area is popular with fisherman and the traveling public.

Rollingstone Creek Bushy Park
The Rollingstone Creek rest area is a shady grassed area at the end of the small town, Rollingstone. It has a day use area as well as a 48 hour camp area. The site provides, playground, picnic areas, toilets, cold showers, non-potable water, rubbish bins, and a dump point. The free camping site is good for caravan's, trailers, and tent-based camping close to the highway. Rollingstone Creek borders the rest area if you're inclined to fish.

Bluewater Park Rest Area
Just north of Townsville is a shady 24 hour rest area. The site has facilities such as toilets, dump point, picnic areas, playground, and rubbish bins. It's a great free site for caravans, trailers, vans, and tent-based camping.

Other dog-friendly camping areas include Justin Park, Saunders Beach, Cromarty Boat Ramp, Giri Grass Area, Barratta Boat Ramp, and Ocean Creek Boat Ramp.

Mt Start dog with a view
Mount Stuart - Photo credit Neil Olsen

See Townsville's off-leash areas for some more subtle places to take your dog.

Tips

  • Like humans, dogs must also train for long-distance walking and running. Start slow, and follow a plan that progressively increases distance and/or elevation gain by no more than 10% each week.
  • Before making a long-distance trip, be sure that your pet can walk the distance. Otherwise, you may end up carrying them.
  • When heading out in the bush, be sure your dog has the right vaccinations and you've brought appropriate gear, a first aid kit, and sufficient food and water for both of you.
  • Keep your dog safe in the swift water by using a life jacket.
  • Snakes are present in most of these areas, so be aware, and keep your dog on a leash.
  • Check your dog for ticks during and after the adventure. Paralysis ticks (Ixodes holocyclus) is one of about 75 species of Australian tick fauna and is considered the most medically important. It causes paralysis by injecting neurotoxins into its host.
  • Crocodiles are in and around estuaries and beaches and can swim large distances up creek and rivers. Be aware when around the water's edge.
  • Start out slow on an easy, low-traffic trail to get your dog accustomed to the terrain.
  • Avoid the midday heat. Go to the beaches and open bushland in the early mornings or late afternoons, since these environments provide little shade.