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DO you have a four-legged family member holding you back from that relaxing dream campervan holiday? No problem. I’ve discovered the most incredible place in southern Victoria where you can take your furry best friend with you.

Forget expensive boarding kennels and any idea of a last-minute calls to family and friends for doggy-sitting duties. And there will be no more separation anxiety and psychotherapy sessions for your pampered pooch if you dare to read on, so start packing those doggie bags and leads and prepare to hit the highway.

Nestled among gently rolling hills of the enchanting Tarra Valley is one of Victoria's best kept secrets. Less than a three-hour drive in your Melbourne Campervan Rental, and only 3km from the magnificent Tarra-Bulga National Park, Best Friend Holiday Retreat awaits in lush secluded rainforest surrounds, with all-year-round waterfall and natural rock-formed swimming pool.

Beginning with an easy drive from Melbourne along the Monash Freeway and Princess Highway to Traralgon, you will soon be travelling through the heartland of magnificent regenerating bushland so devastated by fires last year. It doesn’t take long before you are gently winding around undulating roads, through picturesque gorges, across sparkling mountain streams and surrounded by lush rainforest.

Upon arrival at the entrance to “Doggie Heaven”, also known as Best Friend Holiday Retreat, caring hosts Coralie and Ralph will be there to meet and greet you with big smiles and pats accordingly.

This lovely venue has as many awards and accolades as there are buried bones around the property. For starters, it’s Australia’s No.1 Premier Dog Friendly Holiday Destination and the world’s very first “Dog Holiday Park”, a winner of multiple national and state awards including the national Five Paw Award (2003-04-05-06-07-08), winner of Victoria's Take-A-Break "Best Places to Stay” and the 2008 winner of the national MDBA Award – “Best dog-friendly tourist destination”. It was also selected as one of the top Caravan Parks in Australia by Australian Traveller Magazine in February 2009.

This boutique dog holiday park is exclusively designed for dog lovers. Offering the perfect atmosphere for laid-back, relaxing days, you can grab a fishing pole and cast for trout in the sparkling clear mountain streams, go netting for freshwater cray, or simply relax with a bottle of local wine and your binoculars to view the spectacular colors and plumage of birds of the rainforest from your campervan door. Then by night, toast marshmallows or roast chestnuts (in season) on your very own crackling campfire while being closely observed by the friendly resident koalas.

To watch my two dogs, Hamish and Muffin (pictured), running free as the wind in all directions across six large off-leash areas, fully secured with double gates, was an absolute joy to behold.

Everything has been done to ensure your peace-of-mind during your campervan stay. Cabins and drive-through caravan sites are securely fenced. They have dog-friendly play equipment including dog agility equipment both for the learner and the more experienced. For your convenience, there are "doggy-doo" stations scattered around the park, many tethering places (in the on-leash areas) and various dog drinking spots. There’s also a dog hydro bath hut to pamper your best friend and luxury kennels for those occasions when you cannot take your dog with you, such as when visiting the National Parks.

For nearby campervanning day trips, it is also less than a 30-minute drive to Yarram at the heart of the most beautiful country in Gippsland. From the magnificent splendor of Ninety Mile Beach to the delicious cool atmosphere of Tarra Valley National Park, from the historic excellence of Port Albert to the natural wonder of Wilsons Promontory, there is somewhere here to please everyone.

Just over an hour away awaits the panoramic splendor of Wilson’s Prom National Park and a visit back in time to the gold-mining days by travelling on the Walhalla Goldfield Railway.

So pack your bags, stow those doggie biscuits in your campervan, and give my regards to Coralie and Ralph!


Scott Podmore

Scott Podmore

Award-winning writer, editor, photographer, videographer and owner of October Grey Media. Specialising in travel and lifestyle content and a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers. Has contributed regular content for the NewsCorp stable of newspapers and magazines, TravelTalk mag, The Departure Lounge and many more publications in Australia and internationally. Follow on Twitter & instragram #scottpodmore

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