My beautiful Groodle Bonnie at Seymour Dog Park in Moss Vale

It struck me recently just how lucky we are to live in the Southern Highlands – it is just so dog friendly!

As well as the wonderful cafes that happily welcome our hounds (I’m looking at you, Grand Bistro, Raw & Wild, Harry’s on Green Lane), there are some truly beautiful off-leash dog parks for both humans and their furry best friends to enjoy.

Firstly, in Mittagong, there’s an off-leash dog park located on Edward Street, not far from the stunning Alexandra Reserve. Best for smaller to medium sized dogs with calmer natures, this smallish, well fenced area is a great meeting place for those dogs and their owners who are less inclined to work up a sweat on their walk. It’s very pretty, but on the smaller side, so neither you or your dog will get much of a run. It’s more for socialising and sniffing!

Oodles of oodles living it up at Centennial Road Dog Park!

Next, there’s Centennial Road Dog Park in Bowral, which is quite a bit larger and suits dogs of most sizes and exuberance, although it tends to be a meeting place for smaller to mid-side breeds. If your dog really likes to run and tackle, I’d suggest Moss Vale Park, where it has ample opportunity to stretch its legs and work off all of its excitement.

Border Collie Mickey loving the freedom of Seymour Park in Moss Vale

Moss Vale Dog Park (also known as Seymour Park) is like the canine version of Luna Park! It’s enormous, and your dog can run to its heart’s content as it socialises with all manner of pooch. While all dogs are welcome and made to feel that way, if your dog is very little or timid, it might be best to test the water there carefully, as quite a lot of working dogs and larger breeds go there. Smaller furry friends could easily be overwhelmed

There are also some great on-leash designated walks too. One of my favourites is the beautiful Cherry Tree Walk in Bowral, which is about to come alive with beautiful Spring blossoms. There are a couple of dedicated dog poop bins on this walk, but no bags provided, so be sure to bring your own.

It begins near Bowral Swimming Pool and takes you right through to East Bowral and to Mansfield Reserve, if you have a spare couple of hours to walk there and back. At almost any opportunity on the first third of the walk, you can quickly duck off and head into Bowral and grab a coffee or a snack.

Chief and Bonnie walking around Mansfield Reserve

Mansfield Reserve is another favourite. I think it is one of the most beautiful places to trek in the Highlands. The views and energy change daily, depending on the weather and of course the time of day. On early winter mornings, it is frosty and white – like walking through Narnia! If there’s a mist around, you could well imagine you’re in Scotland. Rug up and wear shoes with grip, as it can be icy, too.

Just be mindful that it is strictly on-leash here. The reserve is filled with beautiful wildlife, including breeding koalas! These beautiful animals are protected and might experience trauma if they encounter an off-leash, excited puppy. Heavy fines do apply if the rangers catch you breaking the rules.

There are a lot of wombat holes around the reserve too. The last thing you want is your dog to disappear down one. That’s no good for either the wombat or your dog. Also remember that snakes are prevalent there in the warmer weather, so be mindful you might encounter one and move quietly with caution if you do, ensuring your dog remains on a close leash.

Mansfield Reserve doesn’t offer a bins or bag service, so it’s important to bring your own and take your dog’s poop away with you to dispose of it accordingly.

One other thing I like to note … while mostly all of the all parks offer great bins and bags service to pick up poop, it’s important that we remember that it is not always possible for people to keep a check on what their dog is doing 100 percent of the time, no matter how diligent the owner is.

Sometimes, the dog has run too far away and the poop is hard to find (especially when the autumn leaves have fallen). Or perhaps the dog’s owner is elderly or unwell and may not have been able to quite bend down that day to pick it up.

I always practice what I call “a poo in lieu” service. Rather than get cranky at a poo that’s been missed, if I’ve got an extra bag, I just pick it up and place it in the bin. I believe it’s part of the community spirit and we should all support each other in this way. It’s so easy and takes me no time at all!

Anyway, that’s just my little ‘pay it forward’ thing and I’d love it if it caught on. Aside from cleaner parks, it makes for a friendlier community spirit, don’t you think?

I look forward to seeing you at the dog parks. If you recognise me with my babies, pictured here, please come and say hello!

Love, Di. xxx

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