Kelpies come out in force
Published: 15 June 2017
Annual muster held at the home of the legendary Aussie dog
Kelpies and their humans parade through Casterton
Image © 2017 The Project
The Kelpie is the quintessential hard-working Aussie dog, known for their intelligence, loyalty, courage and tenacity. All across the country, tens of thousands of Kelpies help farmers herd sheep and cattle.
And the birthplace of the Kelpie is Casterton. Around 1870, a bitch known as “Gleeson’s Kelpie” was bred on George Robertson’s Warrock Station property north of the Western Victorian town.
She was bred from Scottish smooth-haired collies and, it's argued, dingoes might have also played a role. Either way, with those distinctive ears that spring to attention while working, Kelpies have become the farmers’ best friends ever since.
For the past 21 years, Kelpies and their owners come flocking back to Casterton for the Australian Kelpie Muster, where they can compete in events like the Dash, High Jump and Hill Climb – not to mention Kelpie Pinball, where the dogs have to rustle Indian Runner Ducks.
“You’ve got to be very precise with your direction commands for working ducks,” says Daniel Ball from working dog school Ewe, Me and the Dog. “They’re not quite as forgiving as sheep if your dog gets in the wrong spot.”
And there’s also the chance to buy one of the dogs at auction. Tassie farmer Paul Weeding paid a record $12,000 for his Kelpie Tom.
“I’m a bloke, I don’t like being beaten,” Paul says. “I just kept going til I got him.”
But the farmer has no regrets – Tom is so smart and useful, 75-year-old Paul reckons he’s worth every cent.
“It’s like everything in life, you only get what you pay for.”
And when it comes to working, Paul says that there’s nothing like a Kelpie.
“It’d take a football team to do what one dog does, then they probably wouldn’t be able to do it properly.”