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So you have packed the car, organised the friends and family and are all ready for the long awaited getaway escape to the water wonderland of Port Stephens.

And yes, not to be forgotten, the fur-kids are also ready to go!

Port Stephens is renowned for being a natural area of beauty with its many diverse and pristine waterways, bays and beaches and has an extensive range of activities to suit all: swimming, fishing, hiking, cruising, parasailing, dolphin and whale watching to name just a few, or it is simply a wonderful location to just get away from it all, to unwind, relax and rejuvenate.

But what about our four-legged loved ones? From the daily stresses of their all-important jobs of ensuring everyone is awake, checking that kids get off to school, getting in a rushed walk before you head off to work, welcoming home everyone at the end of the day, watching over dinner preparation, being there to listen to end of day hassles and providing unconditional love and affection, even your pooch needs a much deserved, relaxing holiday away.

And luckily, there are lots of fun things to do in Port Stephens for our fur-friends (and also for you as well!). Port Stephens has a number of beautiful beaches that are completely pet-friendly and some time spent at the beach is a must.

Sammi at Bagnalls (with thanks to Rose)

One of the most popular and most loved locations for fur-kids is Bagnalls Beach. The beach has its own reserve area that straddles the white beach and calm waters of the bay. Bagnalls Beach is the epitome of ‘dog heaven’ with the beach being complete dog friendly, off-leash and accessible all day. Bagnalls Beach is located in Nelson Bay and is easily reached by car but there are also some great walks to and from Bagnalls, as well as a cycle path. Being a bayside beach, it is also perfect for families and young children or those who prefer carm waters rather than the surf locations.

Bagnalls Beach is very popular with locals as well (don’t be surprised to have a chat and for your pooch to make a local fur-friend – everyone is so friendly!) and Bagnalls Beach even has its own Facebook Group Page for those who love to meet and share time with their pooches and friends.

Courtesy Port Stephens Council

Bagnalls Beach extends along Government Road, Nelson Bay to Corlette, and there are a number of entry points and rest areas along the Bagnalls Beach Reserve area. The most popular section is the main park area (Reserve East) that includes a picnic area, playground barbecue toilets as well as easy beach access. In fact, all of Bagnalls Beach is easy to access!

Two other areas are also available for picnics and access to the beach: Reserve Middle which has a picnic area and on the western end of the beach (towards Corlette) there is Reserve West which has a playground, picnic area, public amenities including disabled toilets

Charlie at Bagnalls Beach (with thanks to Annique J Photography)

When is the best time to visit Bagnalls Beach

Bagnalls Beach faces north and so it benefits from beautiful sunrises and sunset vistas – enjoy an early morning walk or swim or an evening picnic or barbecue with the glorious sunset water views. In the cooler months, the winter sun is also so enjoyable with the benefit of the north-facing location.

Bagnalls Beach is tidal so you may wish to think about the best time for you and your fur-family to visit the beach. At low tide, the unique sea grass beds and rocky areas are more exposed with tidal beach pools and sand islands normally visible. This is ‘doggy exploration heaven’ with so many things to explore, investigate and enjoy, in the safety of the low tides. Swimming is also available all year round but you may need to wade out further if you wish to get fully immersed when it is low tide.

At high tide, Bagnalls Beach is great for swimming and if you wish to explore a little further, it is also perfect for kayaking.

Courtesy of Nude Kayaks

One of the highlights as well is the amazing sight of the black swans that can be seen along the beach – a truly beautiful and graceful sight to see!

Fur-friend ‘Musts’ to remember at Bagnalls Beach

There are a number of things to remember when visiting a dog-friendly, off-leash beach. First of these is to ensure your dog is well behaved and socialised, especially around other dogs. If you are not sure, keep your dog on a lead until they are comfortable with the surroundings – it will be all new to them if they have not been to Bagnalls Beach before and ‘new faces’ including new dogs, may require a little patience until they feel settled. Even the most well behaved dog may need a little time to get used to a new place to visit and explore.

Also, the waterways of Port Stephens are renowned for being so pristine – it is what attracts us all to this beautiful area! Please do remember to pick up after your fur-babies and deposit any waste in the well sign posted doggy bins. Dog waste bags are normally available as well but just in case, it is highly recommended that you bring your own doggy bags. We all wish to keep this beautiful beach, idyllic for all visitors including fur-friends.

Odin enjoying an early morning walk (with thanks to Jessica Burnett)

If your dog has not experienced the beach before, Bagnalls is a perfect start as it is located on the bayside area so there is no risk of waves or surf to make them feel anxious or nervous. (We have more information on ‘Teaching your Dog to Swim’ in our next article). In fact, we have had many dogs stay at our villas and cottages, who have learnt to swim in the safe waters at Bagnalls Beach. It also makes it a great family location especially for young children or those with little water experience, plus it has the added advantages of barbecue areas and children’s playgrounds.

How to get to Bagnalls Beach – cycle, walk, drive

Bagnalls Beach is easily accessible by car and there is also a lovely walking and cycle pathway that is situated along the Nelson Bay foreshore that has sweeping views of the bay.

The Cycle and Walkway to Bagnalls Beach

From Nelson Bay, travel west along Government Road and just before Bagnalls Beach roundabout, the eastern reserve area is accessible on the left hand side. This is easily visible from the roadway. Alternatively, travel on further past the Bagnalls Beach roundabout along Sandy Point Road, to the western end of the beach. Another car park is available on the left hand side, opposite the turnoff for Pantowora Street.

The cycle or pathway passes through Bagnalls Beach Reserve and so it is a very enjoyable walk or cycle from Nelson Bay. Start in Ajex Park (near the Visitors Information Centre) and head west alongside Laman Street and then continue along the bay walk behind Thurlow Avenue. This area is known as West Point. The walkway continues through Dutchies Beach and then on to Bagnalls Beach. There are many vantage points along the walkway to stop and admire the breathtaking views and spots as well to stop and take a rest. The combined cycle/walkway also goes even further west to Corlette, Sandy Point and beyond for the more energetic among us!

In summary…

So whatever your plans entail for your holiday in Port Stephens and enjoying the many wonders of the bay areas, make sure that Bagnalls Beach is on the list as it will be a favourite for your fur-kids and something they can happily dream about, when they go home.