Thousands of farmers, traders and members of the public will converge on the Prince of Wales Showgrounds in Bendigo from July 19 to 21 for the 2019 Australian Sheep and Wool Show.
There are three jam-packed days of exhibitions, education and entertainment across all sectors of the industry, to help celebrate the best quality sheep genetics, the latest innovations and to showcase the industry's important and diverse contribution to everyday life.
Australian Sheep Breeders Association chief executive officer Margot Falconer said the Show had attracted strong interest from exhibitors across the nation.
"For the farmers, it is definitely all about the sheep, but for the public, it's about the entertainment and the total package."- Australian Sheep Breeders Association CEO Margot Falconer
"Despite widespread drought across Australia, we anticipate sheep and fleece entries to be on a par with previous years - around 3000 live sheep from 30 different breeds," she said.
"This year, we have more merinos displaying than in any of the past five years. We also have almost 450 individual trade sites."
The feature breed is the Polwarth - developed in Victoria during the late 1800s from Lincoln and Saxon merino bloodlines - coinciding with the centenary of the Polwarth Sheep Breeders Association of Australia.
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Ms Falconer said the Show had evolved into an event offering a colourful carnival atmosphere.
"For the farmers, it is definitely all about the sheep, but for the public, it's about the entertainment and the total package."
The Australian Fleece Competition and judging will determine champions for the Supreme Prime Lamb, Supreme Long Wool, and Merino National Pairs in the showring schedule.
Don't miss Woolcraft, shearing and wool handling competitions, fashion parades, the Festival of Lamb culinary experience, Women of Wool lunch and Lambition dinner.
AUSTRALIA'S dusty dog trial rings are a long way from the lush green pastures of his native Ireland, but there's nowhere in the world Aoidh Doyle would rather be.
The 26-year-old feels at home mustering sheep for a living and showing judges and crowds the special bond he has developed with his working dogs in the competition arena.
His skills will be on display during the O'Sullivans Transport Central Victorian Yard Dog Championships during the Australian Sheep and Wool Show in Bendigo.
It's a career path he never imagined when he left his family's dairy farm in Wexford for a holiday 'down under' after finishing high school in 2011.
"I was only meant to be here six weeks, then go back to study teaching at university," Mr Doyle said, "but I loved it here so much I ended up staying."
He took up shearing and worked his way around the country for the next six years, before Stuart and Maree Fox, from Fox Pastural, offered him a full-time farming job on their 12,500-acre mixed cattle and sheep property in the north-east Victorian town of Merton.
There he met Tim Cavill, whose family is heavily involved in working dog trials and who shared knowledge of the craft and encouraged him to join the circuit.
"I used to shear competitively but now I am addicted to the dog trials," said Mr Doyle.
"I only started in September, but I've been lucky enough to win a couple of novice competitions, finish second a few times and had some placings in the open and improver classes. You put so much time into the dogs and when you do well, you can see the rewards for all your effort."
Mr Doyle looks forward to bringing two kelpies to Bendigo for the trials - two-year-old male novice Cash and 18-month-old maiden Tilly.
"The great dogs have natural working ability and listen better than most. They may come with some annoying traits, but our favourite companion happily puts up with ours as well - which is only fair!"
Two competition rings will operate on the main arena, with commentary to educate the audience about the pivotal contribution working dogs make to livestock farms.
Highlights of the three-day program include the open, improver, novice and maiden sections, the Championship final, and round two of the 2019 Rural Bank-CopRice Series.
A new addition this year is the Feed Central Interstate Challenge, featuring two handlers from each represented state, with the final to be held under lights on the Saturday night.
Competition co-convenor Brian Leahy said the best dogs for working livestock shared traits such as flexibility, faithfulness and the ability to listen attentively.
"They adapt easily to our personality," Mr Leahy said. "Dog breeders often say the moment a person comes to look at a dog, they can pick whether they have compatible personalities. For example, loud people often like loud dogs with lots of bark, while quieter people may prefer calmer animals.
Mr Doyle, who will marry his Australian fiancée next May, agreed:
"You know you've got a good one when you can go full pelt all week at work, then take it to trial and it can switch off and be calm enough to compete."
The main arena will become a hub of activity, featuring yard dog trials, an animal nursery, the Careers and Technology centre and various stallholders in The Oval shopping pavilion.
The Country Living and Lifestyle, Osborne, Noble pavilions and the Woolcraft sheds sites form Australia's largest fibre market.
Visitors to the Show can plan their itinerary with the help of a new Sheep and Wool Show app, while those off site can watch the ram sale and some sheep judging via livestreaming.
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