Pawsome Working Dogs
Regional Victoria might be a pawfect destination for a short break, however it’s anything but a dog-cation for some hard-working pooches.
From the culinary scene to big screen, Victoria’s working dogs are not only great for a pat but these good boys are keeping busy.
In a world-first, Maremma dogs are trained and placed on Middle Island in Warrnambool to protect the penguins from foxes during the breeding season. The story goes that local chicken farmer Swampy Marsh made the suggestion to protect the Little Penguin colony after he successfully used the dogs to protect his free-range chickens. The tale inspired the Australian hit family-friendly movie Oddball and the Penguins, released in 2015. Middle Island has been closed to the public since 2006 to protect the burrows from trampling which can harm penguins, penguin chicks and eggs. Each summer, visitors to the Great Ocean Road can book a Meet the Maremma Experience. From December to April, the fun, educational and interactive Maremma experience will teach visitors about little penguins, the importance of protecting them, learn about the project and be given the opportunity to pat and have a photo with a Maremma guardian dog.
All funds from the tours go towards the care of the Middle Island Maremma dogs. Warrnambool Civic Centre 25 Liebig Street, Warrnambool VIC T 1800 637 725.
Teddy & the Fox
Teddy is not only the resident pooch at the Bellarine Distillery’s new cellar door at The Whiskery but the family dog has been immortalised on the label of the small batch hand craft gin bottles. The name was born from a chance encounter with Teddy and the property’s fox. The fox stuck his head out of the old wood shed at just the wrong time and the chase was on. Teddy never did manage to catch the fox but the fox did seem to enjoy the chase. Teddy and the fox now live in harmony together, where the fox never leaves the den when Teddy is around.
Visitors to the Bellarine can visit Teddy at The Whiskery. Corner Scotchmans Road and Port Arlington Road, Drysdale VIC T 0468 926 282.
The town of Casterton, four hours west of Melbourne in Victoria’s southwest corner, is recognised as the ‘Birthplace of the Kelpie’ breed. The township celebrates the amazingly intelligent Kelpie breed of working Australian cattle and sheep dog with the annual ‘Australian Kelpie Muster’ held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in June. The original ‘Kelpie’ was born in 1871 north of Casterton at Warrock Homestead; her parents being a pair of black & tan Collies imported from Scotland.
Visitors to Casterton can enjoy the Kelpie Walking Trail which links five unique sculptures revealing the fascinating life and times of the Kelpie. In 2018, the Australian Kelpie Centre opened. Believed to be the world’s only dog museum, the centre includes a Visitor Information Centre, meeting spaces, amenities and an interpretive display showcasing the history of the Kelpie Working Dog. 139 Henty Street, Casterton VIC T 03 5554 2440.
Victoria’s spectacular Alpine National Park region is home to the beautiful husky. Visitors can live the excitement, get close to nature and discover the special bond between human and husky with an unforgettable sled dog experience with tours available at Dinner Plain, Hotham, Mount Baw Baw and Mount Buller. Visitors can witness two sled dog races over two consecutive weekends in Victoria’s High Country. Unique to Victoria, visitors can watch more than 70 Mushers (dog team drivers), and in excess of 350 sled dogs racing through the Falls Creek Village under lights during the Falls Creek Sled Dog Classic in early August. Followed by the Sled Dog Challenge, Australia’s oldest sled dog race, take over the tree lined trails around Dinner Plain.
Victoria’s truffieres are among the best in the world with visitors welcomed to pull on their gumboots and get out and about from late May to early August for the Victorian truffling season. Ella and Harry are Black Cat Cottage’s truffle dogs who love to walk around the stunning property, set on 20 peaceful acres in the Central Highlands. Thomas the dog at Red Hill Truffles sniffs out the black truffles under the oak and hazelnut trees, growing deep in Red Hill’s rich volcanic soil. Abbie and Holly are the resident truffle dogs at Truffle Treasures in Victoria’s Central Highlands region.
Hard working dogs aren’t limited to regional Victoria with Mr Walker an important member of the Park Hyatt’s concierge team at the Melbourne hotel. The scarf-wearing Labrador, an official ambassador of Guide Dogs Victoria, plays a very important role at our hotel, with duties including greeting guests at the lobby, attending important client meetings and taking walks through the local Fitzroy Gardens. Between pats and meetings, the busy employee has just released his first book named The Tales of Mr Walker - a hotel dog with a nose for adventure. 1 Parliament Square, off Parliament Place, Melbourne VIC T 03 9224 1234.
This article was featured in the latest edition of the Sharp Traveller inflight magazine. Click here to read more.
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