One of the animals for sale, ‘Kirkcaldy Dream’, in action … Peter says the red and tan bitch displays exceptional natural working ability, a calm temperament, medium eye, good cover and classy footwork (Photo: Supplied)

May 31, 2024

Blackbutt farmer Peter Austin and his wife Kate are selling the results of a lifetime of breeding prized working dogs to turn their hands to avocados.

Peter, 72, began breeding kelpies in Victoria in 1976 when he found well-bred working dogs were vital for his work on a large Victorian sheep and cattle station.

The couple moved to a property just south of Blackbutt in 2012, where they continued to breed kelpies and – unusually for the South Burnett – raise sheep (Australian White ewes).

His stud, “Working Kelpies of Kirkcaldy”, has sold working dogs throughout Australia as well as to Japan, the US, Canada and Mexico.

Peter has been in the game long before “Muster Dogs” became a TV hit.

“I have been running dog-training schools and holding exhibitions long before any of that happened,” he told

Over the years, Peter and Kate have given working dog demonstrations at sheep shows, field days and ag colleges, and helped co-ordinate the National Kelpie Trial at Mortlake in Victoria.

Seven years ago, the couple planted avocados on their Blackbutt property and Peter says it’s now time to turn their attention to them.

He said the dispersal of the stud provided a rare opportunity to buy young dogs with proven bloodlines which have been trained on sheep, cattle and goats.

The couple are selling 22 animals – 17 bitches and five dogs, aged from 14 months to four years – as well as the business and domain name.

“There are few, if any, kelpie studs today that can claim almost 50 years of breeding with the same genetic pool,” Peter said.

“This pool has developed over the years allowing many dominant traits to continue.”

Peter said that all but two of the kelpies offered for sale will work with cattle.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for anyone looking for a quality brood bitch or sire, not just a superior young working dog,” he said.

The dispersal will be a timed sale on the AuctionsPlus website, in conjunction with Hartwig & Bliss Livestock, on June 26-30.

Peter Austin with ‘Kirkcaldy Gabby’ and ‘Kirkcaldy Doc’ … the dam and grandsire of many of the dogs offered for sale
(Photo: Supplied)


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