The Canberra Sled Dog Club
The Canberra Sled Dog Club was formed in mid 1996 with a total membership of six. Now, less than 18 months later, the club boasts a membership of over 80 families (that is in excess of 150 members) - making it the largest sled dog club in Australia!
The Club caters for both recreational mushers and serious racers and is non-breed specific.
Training days are held on the Saturday and Sunday of every weekend from the beginning of March through to the end of October - in the pine forest plantations less then 15 minutes drive from the city centre.
Sled dog racing in Australia primarily involves two main breeds - the Alaskan Malamute and the Siberian Husky. However, as the sport grows more and more breeds are being utilised. The Canberra Sled Dog Club boasts the only Newfoundland and English Pointer teams running in Australia. In addition the club runs a number of cross breeds including a Sheppamute (German Shepherd/Malamute cross) and Siberian Ridgeback (Siberian Husky/Rhodesian Ridgeback cross) among others.
There are about a dozen major races across Australia from South Australia to Queensland. Because of Australia's climate, only one race is actually held in the snow, the rest being run on dirt tracks with mushers racing wheeled scooters or rigs. This year Canberra Sled Dog Club members participated in races as far afield as Victoria, NSW and Queensland.
Our best results for the season were:
Class Name Place Race State 1-dog Damon Devir 2nd Canberra Sled Dog Classic ACT 2-dog Peter Komidar 5th SHCNSW Sled Dog Shield NSW 4-dog Damon Devir 5th SHCNSW Sled Dog Shield NSW Junior Tracy Carter 1st Northern Exposure Gig Race Qld Novice Nicole Manwaring 4th Northern Exposure Gig Race Qld
This year also saw the inaugural Canberra Sled Dog Classic with just under 100 mushers from around Australia participating. The race is held at the end of August making it the last major race of the season.
The race was a great success with an estimated 3,000 spectators, local TV and radio coverage, front page of the Canberra Times and even an article in a Saudi Arabian newspaper (seriously!). All that and it snowed as well!
Although the racing season is over for '97, the club is already planning for a bigger and brighter event in 1998.
The phenomenal growth of the Canberra Club is a testament to how mushing can really grip the imagination of the general public. Who knows just how big this sport will eventually get. Maybe one day we will get to race against each other!