Having missed last year’s event, as I was away at the time, I was glad to be able to cover it once again and this year the weather was also much better than what I remember it being last year. I can’t quite remember where I was last year, but I suspect that it was on another High Country Cruise. I was also under the impression, earlier in the year, that the event had been cancelled for some reason, but that rumour turned out to be untrue. I’m not sure where that rumour came from, but when I did some checking it was clearly just a rumour. And just so that I didn’t forget, I made sure that it was entered in my calendar as a reminder. It’s not the first time that I’ve forgotten something, only to remember at the last moment, or not.
Finding new ways to photograph existing subjects is always a challenge and when you revisit regular events several years in a row, it becomes increasingly difficult to find a new ‘angle‘ for a story. So with the Berryden Sheep Dog Trials on once again this year, I was really pondering what I could do that was different from last year and the year before. Ironically, several weekends prior prior to the trials, we were asked to baby sit a neighbour’s 13 week old Border Collie pup, which we of course were quite happy to do. After a weekend of experiencing a small, four-legged, hurricane around the house and two completely worn out Labradors, there was a surreal stillness that followed when she went home. Though she did pop up at our front gate later that day (not unexpected) and had to be escorted back home.
Following on from last year’s Berryden Sheep Dog Trials I thought I’d do something similar to what I did with this year’s Blessing of the Bikes story, that is, give greater coverage to the people that attend these events, where they come from, what attracts them to these events and anything else that will shine some light on those who make these events so typically Australian and so enduring. Yes, I know that sheep dog trials are held around the world, but Australia is unique and that makes such things equally unique; call me parochial. I’m not going to go into excruciating detail on each person that I spoke to, but just provide a simple brief on their background. As I mentioned last time, people come from far and wide to attend these events and this year was no exception, with some from as far away as Queensland, dogs included.
The Australian working dog comes in many breeds, shapes and sizes, with the Border Collie and Kelpie being two of the most well-known and considered synonymous with sheep farming. These dogs are clever, loyal and just love doing what they do and, for them, life is ruff. And nowhere is that more evident than when working dog trials are held, as they were this month at the 10th Annual Berryden Sheep Dog Trials on Jean Moir’s property just south of Mirboo North. The event draws in competitors (including 120 or so dogs) from all over Victoria, as well as interstate, with attendees this year travelling from as far afield as South Australia, Tasmania and New South Wales. The event is run by the South Gippsland Working Dog Group in affiliation with the Victorian Sheep Dog Association.