UPDATE SUNDAY 5.30pm: CASTERTON’S kelpie auction set a world record on Sunday, with a buyer paying $22,200 for a working dog.
The previous record was $12,000. Another dog sold for $16,500 earlier in the day.
EARLIER: CASTERTON’S Keplie Muster is attracting visitors from all over the world and has even made it to a number of people’s bucket lists.
Karen Stephens, president of the Casterton Kelpie Association and a Glenelg Shire councillor, was blown away by the number of people in attendance on Saturday.
“It’s just awesome – we were thinking about 8000 today, but it could be more,” Cr Stephens said.
She said the number of people attending the festival was increasing each year and the opening of the $1.5 million kelpie festival was an added drawcard.
“We know we’ve got visitors here from Astonia, Germany and Japan and all over the place. I’ve heard people put it on their bucket list to try and get here,” Cr Stephens said.
The high jump proved a crowd pleaser, with hundreds of people entering.
Cr Stephens said this was always a popular event.
”The high jump has become one of our signature events – it’s certainly a crowd pleaser.
“I’ve heard of people training their dogs for months and months before the event.”
Another star attraction on the day were the gorgeous 10-month-old kelpie puppies bought along for the weekend by Maroona’s Chris Coad.
“They’ve got a lot of attention,” Mr Coad said.
He said kelpies were great working dogs and helped out immensely on his farm.
Mr Coad said he was impressed with the kelpie centre and said the muster was a great weekend.
Shirley Lydyard, Jean Brading and Eileen Berry travelled to Casterton on a bus from Adelaide.
They said they were pleasantly surprised by all the town had to offer.
“It’s been great – it was well worth the trip,” she said.
Casterton’s Ethel Stone said it was great to see so many people in the town.
She was delighted to check out the kelpie centre.
“I think it’s great,” she said.
Bendigo’s Penny Brown brought kelpies Zip and Jazz to the weekend.
“I came a couple of years ago and I think it’s a great weekend,” Ms Brown said.
Jazz got a lot of attention from visitors, with his L plate displayed on his lead.
“He’s in training,” Ms Brown laughed.
Member for Dan Tehan officially opened the Australian Kelpie Centre alongside Casterton Olympic gold medallist Kathryn Mitchell.
He said the the centre would further build on Casterton’s unique place in history as the home of the kelpie.
“The centre will include interactive displays on the kelpie and Casterton’s contribution to this famous breed of Australian dog, as well an an information centre for Casterton,” Mr Tehan said.
“This state-of-the-art interactive space is sure to impress and will provide an increase in tourism to the region outside of the Australian Kelpie Muster held each June.”
Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government John McVeigh said the centre would attract international and domestic tourists, bringing economic opportunities to the community.
“The $1.5 million centre is a great addition to the region, with 20,000 people expected to use the facility each year,” Dr McVeigh said.
“This means a major boost for local business, helping to drive more jobs across the region.”
“It will provide visitors with detailed information about the development of the Australian kelpie – a home- grown breed of farm work dog sought after by livestock farmers around the world – and the heritage and attractions of Casterton and its surrounds.”
Glenelg Shire mayor Anita Rank said the new centre would strengthen the region’s profile as a key destination on the Melbourne to Adelaide tourist route and attract visitors to the Great Ocean Road and Grampians regions.
“This is a destination of national significance,” Cr Rank said.
“The modern and accessible facility will ensure this iconic kelpie story continues to be shared for generations to come,” Cr Rank said.
“It is a great win for the Casterton community and the Glenelg Shire as we continue to expand and develop our region’s unique tourism offerings.”
This project was jointly funded with the Coalition Government investing $658,230 and the Glenelg Shire Council $861,770.