When a holiday rental’s promotional material features pictures of pups enjoying the property, it’s a safe bet your dog is in for a warm welcome.
Sure enough, on arrival at Secret Garden Cottage in Katoomba we found an indoor dog bed, a jar of treats and even a doggie guest book detailing local walks and activities for four-legged visitors.
Tucked away on a quiet residential street, the cottage is a 10-minute walk from the centre of Katoomba, on the other side of the highway. It’s warm and cosy with an open log fire, comfortable beds and a decadently deep claw foot bath tub.
Secret Garden is well-supplied for a winter break, with board games, books and an extensive DVD and CD collection. There was even a “pet calm” CD with music to relax your animal. We gave it a whirl but it didn’t seem to have much of an effect upon Harry – I think he’s more of a jazz man.
The highlight of our stay was definitely the cottage’s namesake: its stunning garden. Harry loved exploring the pathways, losing himself in the scents of the shrubbery, and I was just as happy sitting in the sun with a cup of tea and watching him. It’s peaceful and private and the perfect antidote to city living.
Out and about we found lots of cafes with outdoor seating where you can dine with your dog. If you want to indulge in some retail therapy, the Leura Doggie Store is dedicated to luxury goods.
As dogs are not permitted in Australian national parks, walking options in the Blue Mountains are limited. We consulted the guide at the cottage and found several dog-friendly bush walks listed, backed up by some recommendations from previous guests in the visitor’s book.
The walk to Minnehaha Falls, a few minutes’ drive north of Katoomba (access at the end of Minni-Ha-Ha Road) is a scenic path through bushland and dogs on leash are allowed. It’s not an easy walk, with some pretty big steps for smaller dogs to negotiate. There were also a few dramatic cliff drops, which made us thankful Harry was safely on-leash. We ventured far enough to glimpse the falls, about a one-hour return trip.
Over in Wentworth Falls, dogs on leash are permitted on the Charles Darwin walk, which follows Jamison Creek – and the footsteps of the famed naturalist.
The path starts from Wilson Park on Falls Road and eventually leads to Wentworth Falls. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it this far as the second half of the track is in national park (signs alert you to the fact). It’s worth noting that the boardwalk sections weren’t ideal for Harry, who kept losing his footing in the wide gaps. Anyone with a larger dog might also struggle with a set of steep metal steps near the beginning of the walk. Harry had to be carried down and I can’t see that working out so well if you have, say, a Great Dane.
The Blue Mountains might not be the best spot if you’re looking for lots of outdoor adventures with your dog. But for older dogs like Harry, who are happiest pottering around the garden or curled up in front of a fire (Him Indoors seemed content with these options too) Secret Garden Cottage makes a perfect getaway.
For more information go to www.secretgarden-cottage.com.au