Paws for thought

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Australia - GRA­HAM ER­BACHER

WE are driv­ing into Wagga Wagga in the NSW Rive­rina re­gion. Driv­ing and search­ing, through the city cen­tre and out the other side. Driv­ing, driv­ing, scour­ing street num­bers. Our des­ti­na­tion is a pre-booked, dog-friendly mo­tel.

Driver and Nav­i­ga­tor have a clash of opin­ion. Time to turn back, surely; we must be half­way to Gunda­gai. Pas­sen­ger, a golden cocker spaniel, fills the back seat, un­con­cerned. It’s near teatime, true, and he’s peck­ish, but he’s in his el­e­ment when the Pack is mo­tor­ing and would be happy if we made a snap de­ci­sion to drive on to Dar­win.

Then through the sub­urb of Gumly Gumly, there it is: the Al­lonville Mo­tel. At check-in, meal ad­vice is the truck-stop diner next door (should’ve taken the tip; a bistro steak in town is very or­di­nary) and, head­ing for the clean ’n’ com­fort­able room, a sign ad­vises us what to do with our horses. Now that’s pet friendly. I’m amused by the thought of rac­ing Mr Ed to the break­fast hatch in the morn­ing.

Once it was that all pet-friendly mo­tels were the very last ones on the road out of town, with a view of the bone­yards and the lo­cal ra­dio sta­tion trans­mit­ter. To­day, the dog dollar talks. It’s an age of pup­pu­ci­nos (cof­fee and clothes for ca­nines — just say no) and the smart money is on ac­com­mo­da­tion a star or two up and closer to town.

It pays off. Take a town like Al­bury, a now-by­passed city on the Hume High­way. In mo­tels that once would have done a crack­ing trade come night­fall, the No Va­cancy signs flicker to life less of­ten. The Allawa Mo­tor Inn, dog friendly, in the city cen­tre, al­ways seems an ex­cep­tion.

A few tips for high­way hounds. Book ahead for overnight stays. Web­sites such as Stayz, Dog­zon­line and Dog­son­hol­i­day have made it easy for des­ti­na­tion bookings of sev­eral nights. But, en route, don’t count on even large towns hav­ing mo­tels with a wel­come mat for the mutt. Tip two: Al­ways get a clear def­i­ni­tion of pet friendly. At one place, af­ter check-in, we are told, “The an­i­mal is wel­come to stay in the car.” Rewind: check out. An­other place has a cage out­side the front door “so the dog can see in”.

Mon­trose of Bal­larat in Vic­to­ria gets what it’s all about. A her­itage cottage and a gold­fields blue­stone orig­i­nal, it is ide­ally lo­cated and has had a makeover with more than a dol­lop of luxe. In its gar­den un­der the branches of a rare El­lis Or­ange ap­ple tree more than a cen­tury old, sits a plas­tic moulded ken­nel. Bal­larat is cold, wet and windy. Spaniel Os­car cir­cles the ken­nel and looks up with his beau­ti­ful Mar­ion Cotil­lard eyes: As if. The Pack re­pairs to the fire­side in­doors. The fur­nish­ings and linen are luxury white. I turn a whiter shade of pale and lead by ex­am­ple by sit­ting on the floor.

In By­ron Bay in north­ern NSW, we stay in a beau­ti­ful beach house that is dog friendly but here it’s the hu­mans who are on the leash. Ev­ery ap­pli­ance set­ting, ev­ery switch, in­deed ev­ery ob­ject has a warn­ing la­bel. So, ba­si­cally, “don’t touch”. Even the tea­spoons are reg­i­mented: “There are six of th­ese, they are placed here, fac­ing north.” We spend one day of four clean­ing, and count­ing and cor­rectly align­ing crock­ery and cut­lery, to en­sure the re­turn of a bond. Os­car pon­ders the physics of a dog­gie-door, the use of which is a life skill that has eluded him.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.