Under the hammer: Working dogs sell for $15,000 at annual muster

Record crowds at Casterton's 23rd annual Australian Kelpie Muster


Sales
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A total of $280,000-worth of kelpies were auctioned at the Australian Kelpie Muster.

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Top dog: Kelpie Whiskey, two years eight months, was sold for a top $15,000. Picture: Tash Franko

Top dog: Kelpie Whiskey, two years eight months, was sold for a top $15,000. Picture: Tash Franko

THE country's finest working dogs showed off their skills at Casterton's 23rd annual Australian Kelpie Muster during the weekend.

Attendees travelled from across Australia and the world to see the best Kelpies on display.

Karen Stephens, president of the Casterton Kelpie Association, said that while no records were broken by the dogs themselves, the 8000-plus crowd turnout was the best the town has seen.

"There were no records broken, but we had record crowds, it was an absolute cracker of a day weather-wise on Saturday and the rain held off on Sunday," Ms Stephens said.

"We had people from all parts of the universe, Australia and Victoria here celebrating the birthplace of the Kelpie.

"We think we were around 25 per cent up on last year and our international turnout has also increased tremendously."

The talent of the Kelpie breed was on display on the Saturday, with canines showing their agility and speed in the Kelpie Dash, Kelpie Hill Climb and the prized Kelpie High Jump, where Casterton holds the world record of 2.951 metres.

The annual street parade saw hundreds walk Casterton main street with their Kelpies as hundreds more onlookers waved from the sidelines, topped off by a plane flyover.

"Forget drones, we've got farmers here who have their own planes," Ms Stephens said.

"While this was our 23rd year, for the 25th we're looking to break the world record by having more Kelpies in the Casterton street parade than ever before."

Sunday stepped up a notch, with serious buyers vying for the best working dogs.

The top bidder was Trent Bettsie from Keith, South Australia, who paid $15,000 for prized Kelpie Whiskey from handler Jack Leonard.

"I'm really happy with how she went, she deserved every dollar," Mr Leonard said.

"She's two and a half-years-old and a very smart, switched on dog who has done a lot of work for her age.

"She was very bonded to me and a great help to me, I'm going to miss her that's for sure."

Whiskey is the third dog that Trent Bettsie has purchased from Mr Leonard.

"I was very happy when I saw his face and he gave me a thumbs up, it's the third one he's bought from me in 10 years at Casterton," he said.

"It makes me happy to know where she's going."

An overall $280,000-worth of kelpies were auctioned off on Sunday, up from last year's $264,000.

From far and wide: Secret, owned by Jim Harradine from Bunbury WA was just one of many dogs up for auction. Picture: Tash Franko

From far and wide: Secret, owned by Jim Harradine from Bunbury WA was just one of many dogs up for auction. Picture: Tash Franko

"This year we introduced online bidding and we had nine dogs sell online," Ms Stephens said.

"We had a really good cross-section of dogs and really exciting results.

"It can be really hard to separate the vendors from their prize dogs, we had quite a few tears this afternoon.

"That's the dedication they put into training their dogs and how much they adore them."

Visitors also took a keen interest in the True Blue art show, which ran alongside the Muster, with 1000 people passing through the gallery.

14 paintings were purchased and over 800 people voted for the most popular painting, which was won by Meagan Lonsdale for 'New Recruits', a painting of kelpie pups.

Over 250 volunteers ensured the event was a seamless one.

"We've worked really hard over the last 23 years, Casterton is such an awesome community," Ms Stephens said.

"We had over 250 volunteers out there over the last two days supporting us, we are so very thankful and grateful.

"What's important is that people come along and have a great time and have fun."

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