A ‘cool’ dog beach

DOG owners have asked Fremantle council to let them use the full length of Leighton Beach during winter because climate change has made their strip of sand too small and dangerous.

A petition of 533 signatures was presented to Fremantle council on Wednesday night asking for a change to the local dog law to allow the winter access, as well as early mornings and late evenings during summer.

The pooch lovers say a combination of rising sea levels and drifting sand means that during winter the beach becomes split by a rocky headland they can’t pass without risking a sprained ankle or knee.

• Kate Johnstone and Nick McInerney have a run along Leighton with Frank. Photo by Steve Grant

• Kate Johnstone and Nick McInerney have a run along Leighton with Frank. Photo by
Steve Grant


Technically only about 30 metres is under Freo council jurisdiction, but further south the dog owners see a ball-throwing nirvana virtually empty apart from a few wind surfers.

Kate Johnstone and Nick McInerney are originally from New South Wales and already feel they’re in doggy heaven, as Sydney’s got virtually no off-leash dog beaches and they’ve got a seven-month old Labrador pup Frank.

“We think it’d be a good idea, as long as we’re not impinging on anyone else’s space,” Mr McInerney says, acknowledging there’ll be some anti-dog sentiment.

Maree Griffiths brings her best friend down from Shenton Park.

“On a busy weekend it can be six dogs deep all along the beach with no one on the other side,” Mr Griffiths says.

Chip from Kardinya comes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Can’t help what nature does. Been coming here 60 years; every winter it’s washed out,” Chip says.

“Used to be a sewage dump.”

Chip also wants Mosman Park council to fix the access stairs that lead people from the car park on Curtin Avenue down to a large concrete platform that now kind of hovers over the beach because waves have washed away the sand underneath.

Lee Jeffress says last winter she saw an elderly man fall headfirst into the rocks at the bottom of the stairs, badly gashing his head.

“It’s perilous,” she says.



One response to “A ‘cool’ dog beach

  1. Re A “Cool”Dog Beach

    The story about the dog owners request to Fremantle Council seemed very biased towards the interest of a minority of who own dogs and visit the beach. The area of beach available for dogs during the winter period accessible from the Leighton is nearly 800m in length. In the summer months the entire stretch of beach north to the South Cottesloe groin is over 1.7km. This can be verified on Google maps.

    The dog beach is also quite wide in parts and therefore has plenty of room for dogs and people to run and play. It’s only that most people want to be close to the water that it may get a bit crowded at busier times like early summer mornings or warm evenings. Certainly no more crowded than the non-dog beach in similar circumstances.

    The current portion of Leighton beach where dogs are not permitted is approximately 1 km in length.

    The claims of beach use in the winter months are inaccurate as Leighton beach is used extensively during winter months as a popular surf beach in the winter swells. Including use by a number of surf schools. Conversely there is a considerable reduction of dogs and owners using the dog beach in the winter months.

    During my almost daily beach walks, year round, I regularly advise dog owners who are using the non-dog portion of Leighton beach that dogs are nor permitted. Most are very gracious and welcome being advised. I also observed there are paws prints on the beach nearly everyday, indicating that dogs have been walked on the restricted portion of the beach further signifying either a lack of awareness or an unwillingness to comply with council regulations.

    This leads me to believe that opening the entire length of Leighton beach for use by dogs during the winter will inevitably lead to claims for use all year round.

    I’m very fond of dogs and animals in general but I make the point that dog owners are in a minority of the population. I find it objectionable when demand is made for greater consideration and facility be given over to a minority to the potential disadvantage of majority. Allowing dog owners to have access to the now restricted beach area allows no choice for non-dog owners who like myself wish to be able enjoy the amenity of a portion of Leighton beach without the accompanying intrusion of dogs and their excrement.

    I ask that fair and appropriate consideration be given to the vast majority who quite rightly should continue to have the option of being able to use a portion of Leighton beach without the intrusion of dogs.

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