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Dog-lovers' delight: the Kelpie Muster

09:00 AEST Thu Nov 11 2010
Ben Dark went to the relatively small Victorian rural centre of Casterton on the banks of the Glenelg River. It's in a valley, surrounded by rolling hills and is a centre of mixed farming, timber producing and dairying.

Recognised as the birthplace of the kelpie breed of Australian working dog, Casterton hosts the Australian Kelpie Muster, Working Dog Auction and Festival every June long weekend. It's been running since 1997 and enjoys enormous success, attracting those who are in the market for a working dog and those who just want to admire the animals' skills.

For people on sheep farms the dogs are a most important part of their working lives.

Ben and his new friend Angus decided to take their farm dogs to town for the kelpie muster. The association is quite small and relies on the assistance of around 200 volunteers. All proceeds are put back into the community.

The weekend begins on Saturday at 8am with Poets Breakfast followed by a street parade. At 11am the novelty events begin and at 12.30pm the Stockman's Challenge, kelpie high jand Kelpie hill climb are held.

At 9.30am on Sunday everyone moves to Island Park where dogs are given four minutes to demonstrate their abilities. The auction begins at 3pm.

This year's muster made a record of $1 million in working dog sales. Sam, a black and tan male bred in Broken Hill, fetched a new record price of $8600. Another record price of $1400 was achieved for a kelpie pup, Iona Ari.

Sale dogs are shown working sheep individually in a paddock, which gives potential purchasers an idea of the dogs' capabilities.

There are lots of events and even though some seem light-hearted, they still show the capabilities of the clever kelpies.

A favourite is the kelpie triathlon comprising the kelpie dash, kelpie high jump and kelpie hill climb. In the kelpie dash dogs race over a 50m distance at the call of their owner. Kelpie high jump always draws a big crowd. The record jump of 2.91m has stood since 2007. The hill climb is at the end of the main street. Dogs are called individually from the top by their owners and they sprint up the hill, hopefully going through designated gates to gain extra points.

Of course there have to be some novelty events. They include sack races, egg and spoon events and kelpie pinball.

There's Mutton Mayhem, Stockman's Challenge and Kelpie Idol which are great fun.

For such a small town, Casterton loves to entertain. Each March the town celebrates a vintage car rally and polocrosse championships, horseracing in May, woodturning exhibitions in August and street car drag racing in November.


Casterton in Victoria's Western District, 42km from the South Australian border. The June long weekend will fall on June 11-13, 2011.

For further information

Casterton Kelpie Association
PO Box 236
Casterton 3311

User comments
Spot on hey you. 2 days of footage taken. 23 seconds shown. the auction was hardly even mentioned.
Very disappointed with the story on the kelpie muster on getaway tonight not enough information what the footage was about and nothing at all on the sunday demonstrations and auction at all?!?!?!?!?!? also needed more interviews with locals and competitors and spectators! seen better articles on community television, seen people put together better on youtube! was really looking forward to seeing it and was let down getaway!!! the justin timberlake stupid interview was longer??? ????????????? who really cares about him anyway??????????

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