Lucy, owned by Fraser Ramsey of Casino, in the Open Trial draw at the NSW Working Stock Dog Trials at Alstonville.
Lucy, owned by Fraser Ramsey of Casino, in the Open Trial draw at the NSW Working Stock Dog Trials at Alstonville. supplied

Call to raise funds to remember Bonalbo’s working dog

BONALBO was the birthplace of the cattle dog, but a crowdfunding campaign to build a bronze statue of a working dog there to honour the fact has yet to get off the ground.

The campaign on crowdfunding website Gofundme aims to raise $10,000 to erect the monument in Bonalbo Park - but in 21 days it's only raised $410 via 13 people.

Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland posted an appeal on Facebook yesterday to raise money for the project.

"OK, this seems to be a difficult project to get off the ground," she wrote.

"I am sending a call out to ALL my friends - local, national and international - to donate a small amount of money so we can subsidise this statue.

"Bonalbo is a little village, west of the [Richmond] Range, which was the birth place of the working dog.

"Please help me out and share around. Cheers."

According to project coordinator Sharon Tucker from the Bonalbo Show Society, offline donations flowing in from raffles and local businesses have contributed another $400, to the project, leaving $9200 to go.

"The feedback's been great, just not the money," Ms Tucker said.

Bonalbo's claim on the history of the working cattle dog goes back to 1950, when the Bonalbo Show was the first ever agricultural show to run a cattle dog trial.

It was won by Old Bonalbo man Bob Taylor and his dog Ginger, who was a three year old male brown kelpie estimated to be worth about 100 pounds in 1950 - or $5000 in today's money.

Show committee member Fraser Ramsey was in his 20s at the time and thought a "cattle dog trial" would be a good addition given the importance of cattle dogs on the North Coast.

"At that time all cattle were transported by drovers, and the tick regulations in Bonalbo were very strict," he explained.

"All the cattle had to be checked nine times. That created a lot of work for dogs and their owners."

 

Fred Hancock and Fraser Ramsey discuss tactics in prepartion for the Ian Ensby Memorial Dog Trails to be held on the 19th and 20th of March at 45 Kings Ln Tatham. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star
Fred Hancock and Fraser Ramsey discuss tactics in prepartion for the Ian Ensby Memorial Dog Trails to be held on the 19th and 20th of March at 45 Kings Ln Tatham. Photo Jay Cronan / The Northern Star Jay Cronan

Cattle dog trials eventually spread to every other show in Australia, and is now huge - with one of the biggest dog trials at Glen Innes last month drawing 483 first-round entrants.

After 56 years, Mr Ramsey is still competing today, still entering about 10 trials a year from Glenn Innes to the Queensland border - including Bonalbo which he has never missed.

Now close to 90, he put competing in dog trials as one of his secrets of staying healthy.

"I get these dogs to keep me fit, and it's a challenge to get them fit, so it keeps you going," he said.

 

Fraser Ramsey of Bonalbo with his dog at Bonalbo Dog trials, 2016.
Fraser Ramsey of Bonalbo with his dog at Bonalbo Dog trials, 2016. Susanna Freymark

The planned sculpture to be built in Bonalbo Park is a bronze rendition of Ginger.

"We've approached various sculptors, and the $10,000 was the most affordable for us," Ms Tucker said.

"It's hard to get a life-size sculpture because you have to have access to a foundry that can cast a bronze sculpture that big."

She said she hoped that people from outside Bonalbo would recognise its legacy and pitch in too.



'Consider your fire plan': residents told to be prepared

'Consider your fire plan': residents told to be prepared

A total of 79 bush and grass fires burn across the state

Local Partners