Monday, 20 June 2016

Casterton Kelpie Muster

We didn't know about the Casterton Kelpie Muster until we became the owners of a Kelpie working dog, but once we heard about it we knew we definitely had to check it out this year.
Held annually,  during the Queen's Birthday long weekend in June, the 2016 event marked the 20th anniversary of this popular weekend festival in Casterton, Western Victoria.
We started planning our week long getaway many months ago, as is the way when living on a farm with multiple live creature's needs to be catered for daily. 
You can read here about planning to get away together in my last blog post.

Casterton, Vic, is situated 63kms across the Victorian border from the pretty little town of Penola or 70kms from Mt Gambier in the south east of South Australia.

Meg is at home on her bed in the caravan.
We took our trusty old caravan and had made our booking three months prior, to stay four nights at Coleraine  caravan park which is 28km east of Casterton on the Hamilton Highway. This proved to be a really wise decision as every man (woman) and their dog were at Casterton.  All accommodation was booked out and caravans took over the Casterton caravan park, as well as  numerous allocated paddocks surrounding the town.
I love my peaceful sleep, so we were happy to drive the twenty minutes from Coleraine to Casterton each day. (Keep this to yourself though, we hope to enjoy the same quiet caravan park next year.)

Casterton takes pride in being the birthplace of the Kelpie Australian working dog

The Kelpie Muster is held over two days.
On the first day (Saturday) we joined in the opening street parade with hundreds of other Kelpie owners and our dogs. All of us positive that our Kelpie was the most wonderful, ;) but really, there is no ugly Kelpie.
Events were held over the day at various sites, all within easy walking distance of the Casterton main street.
The Bushman's Challenge is a showcse of the many talents of  rider, stock horse and working dog.  I could have watched this all day, but other events were happening at the same time, so we tried to spread ourselves across everything, but I'm sure I missed some things.

The high jump grows in height incrementally until only one dog is left in the running.

The winner was Bailey jumping an incredible 2.915 metres and breaking the record.

The Hill Climb.  
One dog at a time is released from this small area at the bottom and runs to its handler who is calling the dog from the top of this hill.
The hill is steep, impossible to walk up or down, so the handlers at the top are driven up to the lookout via the road in the official ute. It's hard to spot the dog running in this picture.
The dog with the best time wins, and any dog that runs through the two white squares at the beginning of the climb are awarded an extra five seconds, but very few did.
Some dogs lost sight and sound of their handler as they were less than half way up the hill, and returned to their handler at the bottom, so we figured there must have been a blind spot there somewhere.
(The two white blobs in the foreground are small pieces of sheep's wool stuck on the fence.)
We took a drive up to the lookout to get a view from where the handler calls the dog at the top. From here we could see there was definitely a blind spot.
Our strategy for entering Meg next year will take this into account. ;)

I'm sorry, but I just had to put this photo in.
Well, by way of explanation, there was a display of Australian animals in a small marquee, to show the City folks maybe. I felt sorry for the poor possum, who should have been asleep in a dark hollow, but was displayed in an open cage with no shelter. The snakes and lizards should have been in hibernation, and I guess this bloke thought he was keeping his snake warm. But enough about that.

Sunday was auction day, and all of the dogs on offer were put through their paces, by their handlers, to show what they were capable of.
This is my idea of blissful entertainment. I happily sat on the hay bales for hours watching these amazing dogs.

The culmination of the weekend was the auction, and was well attended. The young woman sitting next to me made a bid on a few dogs and finally secured an eighteen month old male for $4000. I sat stone still with my hands on my lap!!
The top dog sold for $10,000, with the average prices being around $6-$7k.

 Our Meg has been learning to work with sheep since she was six months old, and now at twenty months she is a capable little worker, but we wanted to learn more about how to get the best from her.
As it was Brian's birthday earlier this month, I purchased a day of training for him and Meg at the Ewe, Me & the Dog  clinic on the holiday Monday following the Kelpie Muster.
I was allowed to attend with him, and it was an educational and fun day spent on a beautiful sheep property a few kilometres from Casterton. Eight other Kelpie owners from as far away as Queensland and of course, us from South Australia, gained much knowledge from working dog guru Joe Spicer
It was music to my ears when Joe told us that we should be spending as much time with our working dogs as possible and that it's OK to let them inside and be a part of the family if we want to.
It has always been my belief that a working dog can be a companion friend as well. The more time we spend with them, the more they will want to do things that please us like bringing those sheep back to "the Boss".
We do need to be clear and consistent in our training, but that doesn't mean we have to rule with an iron fist.
On Tuesday we packed up the caravan and drove across to the Colac area to spend a night with my sister Annie on the acreage she runs with her husband Darren.
I have heaps of photos of her magnificent garden to show you... in the next blog post.
On the way home we spent a night at Kaniva caravan park. It was so cold, we needed power to run our little fan heater, otherwise we would have freedom camped somewhere out in the bush and had a fire. Brrrr....


  1. Thank yo so much for sharing your photos of the kelpie muster and of your lovely girl Meg. We had a kelpie/collie cross who died earlier this year due to epilepsy. She was a beautiful girl, without a mean bone in her body and won the heart of everybody who came in contact with her. I am looking forward to seeing the photos of Annie's garden.

  2. Goodness it did look cold there, Sally. Kelpies are such lovely dogs. You would have learned a lot over the weekend. I can well imagine you had your heater on if it was as cold there as it has been here :-)

  3. I laughed at you sitting stone still during the auction. I swear my eyes itch during any auction and sheer fear prevents me from rubbing or touching them! What a great time you have been having.

  4. Sounds like a great time was had by all. I cant believe the prices of the dogs, Wow amazing. I suppose all dogs are worth a mint (in my eyes anyway), so for a good working dog it makes sense. Thanks for sharing, Guida.

  5. We were so happy to meet the beautiful Meg. Sweet and smart. Excited about the fact that she will be competing next year!


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