Friday, 3 January 2014

Greenhills Dog Beach

Greenhills beach is by far the best dog beach in Sydney. It is not a dedicated dog beach and access for dogs is limited to before 10am and after 4pm, but it is much, much bigger than Bayview in Sydney's north. There is a lot of sand to run on, surf for the more adventurous dogs, and it is far from other hazards like traffic.

Greenhills beach, Cronulla, late afternoon on a still day.


The dog section of Greenhills beach starts at Gate 5 and extends to the 4WD area, which is just over 2km of beach. Enough beach to allow even the most energetic of dogs to stretch their legs and go for a good gallop. It is easy to spend an hour or more walking the length of the dog section and back if you play or train with your dog on the way. 


The beach car park ends some distance from where the dog off leash area starts. Behind the beach are extensive sand dunes (which dogs are not allowed in), but no roads in the vicinity. The 4WD section of the beach starts where the dog section ends, so there is very little risk of dogs coming into contact with cars. 

Small numbers of fishermen are common on the beach, but they are generally very considerate and responsible. Stray fish hooks or lures or even fishing line are not a problem. It is polite to put your dog on leash or keep them close as you pass fishermen so that your dog doesn't go looking for bait or getting in the way. 

Occasionally, dead pufferfish can be found on the beach. These are spiny and avoided by most dogs, but they are HIGHLY TOXIC. If your dog eats one, you need to get them to the vet immediately. Even a fish a couple of weeks dead can be toxic enough to kill a dog in less than an hour. If you find one, dig a deep hole (to your elbow at least) and bury it so other dogs will be safe as well. 

Pufferfish are deadly if eaten by dogs. Image source
The beach is not patrolled and it is open, so currents and rips may be present. It drops off gently, so if the dogs can withstand the waves, they can have a swim without a very strong undertow. Some days it can be very calm and some days very rough.

Other Dogs and Owners

Greenhills beach was briefly trialled with 24 hour access for dogs in 2013. This lasted only a few days before the trial was aborted due to some dangerous behaviour from dogs on the beach. It is a great pity, as usually the other dogs encountered on the beach are no trouble. As with any off leash dog area, some dogs do not wish to be approached by other dogs, and you may meet the odd dog that is overly friendly or retaliates when approached. If you see a dog on leash, keep your dogs clear of it, as it may just be trying to enjoy the beach without interacting with other dogs. The beach is usually large enough that you can steer clear of other dogs if you wish, but when the tides are very high, there are sections of the beach that can be quite narrow. Think carefully before visiting on public holidays or warm weekend days in the summer, as the beach can be very busy with lots of dogs that don't normally go to the beach. During the winter months it can be hard to fit a walk in before sunset, but if it's cold or windy or a little wet, you will have the place to yourself. 

Drinking water is available for dogs at Gate 5 on the grass, and on the hill immediately north of the car park. There is a dish that owners rinse and refill regularly. If another dog is drinking, allow them to finish before you let your dog approach the water. 

Further Notes

The beach is quite lovely to walk along, and at sunset you can get some beautiful lighting for photos. Sometimes dolphins can be seen riding waves just off the beach. The beach is usually clean, but sometimes there are dead seabirds, like at many beaches. Usually they are not very stinky. If your dog gets into the dunes, there are foxes, and a dog that has eaten or rolled in fox scat stinks to high heaven. Cronulla CBD is a short drive or a moderate walk away where there are many options for food and drink. Cronulla mall is moderately dog friendly. 

Nice afternoon lighting makes for great photos.

Getting There

Greenhills beach is at the northern end of Cronulla. Access to the car park is off Mitchell Rd/Murdock St. Drive past the playground and exercise equipment to park at the northern end of the car park. Walk diagonally (E) down the hill across the grass to Gate 5, which is the last access point to the beach before the scrub on the edge of the sand dunes. The dog section extends north from this gate. 
Park where blue dot is, walk dogs on leash along blue path, and red section is off leash. 
For more information, see the Sutherland Shire Council website.

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