Although it seems Winter has officially moved on, Kate and I am not quite ready to let go here at Dog Adventures, before we get to tell you about our stay up at Dinner Plain in Victoria’s High Country this year!
One weekend a year, Dinner Plain plays host to sled dog racing and teams travel from all over Australia to come and compete. This year Kate, Simon and I were lucky enough to hang out with our friends Kerry and Keiko (the team behind Akemi Photography) and experience the sled dog races ourselves!
But first things first.. where is Dinner Plain?
Dinner Plain is in north-east Victoria about 10km from Mt Hotham off the Great Alpine Road. The village consists of over 300 chalets and what’s more, some of them are dog friendly! The town has multiple bushwalking and cross country ski tracks snaking off through the snowgums making it an ideal destination for a snow adventure with your dog.
Dogs in Dinner Plain
To bring your dog to Dinner Plain, you are required to ensure that you have your dog registered at with your local Council and you have to have had acquired a permit for your dog from the Alpine Shire prior to arrival. While in Dinner Plain, dogs must be kept on a leash and as always – leave no trace – pick up after your dog!
Now that the official where and what we need to do is covered to have a dog adventure in Dinner Plain, read all about our own adventure below!
Collectors Cirque Walk
Our weekend dawned bright with sunshine, and even though we had a long drive the night before, arriving past midnight, Kate and I were raring to get out there in the snow! After we fed and watered ourselves, it was gear on and heading out to the trail that loops around the back of the village right on the forest borders.
If you are looking for a great way to introduce snow walks to your dog, then this trail is ideal for you. It hugs the town and takes you right around the edge of the chalets in a scenic tour of the village. Check out the map of the village walks and surrounds here.
Sled Dog Races
After our morning walk, it was time to head down to the sled dog racing. We reconvened at the chalet and Kerry and I said goodbye to Kate and Keiko (who unfortunately we had to leave behind as pet dogs can prove distracting for the racing dogs) and off we went cameras in hand to the start line!
What immediately hit me even before we got close was the noise! It was a dog lovers paradise with huskies, malamutes, border collies, sheperds and a multitude of other breeds each trying to outdo each other’s bark with their own! The excitement was contagious and soon Kerry and I were hopping about at the start line, ready and waiting for the teams to get racing.
And they’re off! The day started out with the smaller teams heading off first. A small two person sled pulled by two dogs was first up off the rank. The start sound buzzed and the dogs leapt off careening into each other in their excitement to get going. After a few paces they hit their stride though and it was game time.
Team after team lined up and took off. It was just great to see these dogs doing what they loved! While waiting to race they literally were being held back by handlers to stop them from jumping the gun early and taking off. It was clear how much they were looking forward to their run!
After the smaller teams had all passed through, it was onto the larger teams of 6 – 8 dogs. Teams of fiercely proud dogs lined up after each other and as each one passed us, I couldn’t stop taking photos. They all looked so majestic in the snow, although with tongues hanging out the side flapping around in the wind – maybe majestic isn’t quite the word I’m looking for!
It was fantastic to see the difference in the dogs from taking off at the start compared to the finish line. Dogs who nearly leapt out of their skins in their haste to get going, were arriving back at a sedate trot most of the time with no promise of ‘Nearly home! We’re nearly there!’ calls making any difference to their pace! The dogs clearly worked as hard as they could around the track and by the time they were on the home stretch, a few of them even preferred to stop for some spectator pats much to the amusement of the crowd!
After watching the last of the racers make their way home, it was home time for us too for some much needed lunch and pats with our own dogs.
Once fed and watered, Kerry, Keiko, Kate and I (Jen – the odd one out in the ‘K’ gang it seems!) headed off for some trail action over the other side of town. Just past the ski run was a lovely cross country ski track winding through the snowgums.
In the late afternoon sun, the sun filtered in between the trees making it a stunning vista to walk around! Here is where the real fun for Kate and Keiko started! They had a great time bounding about in the snow, and Kate especially loved the abundance of ‘sticks’ (and I use that term loosely as you can see in the photo) about!
After an hour or so of wandering about the drifts, we turned back and walked the easier way via the access trail back to the village. It was nearly sunset by this time, so we took the opportunity to run quickly up the summit of the ski slope to try and grab some sunset sky shots. Unfortunately it had clouded over a bit by then, so we didn’t get the pink sky we wanted, but the view from the top was stunning regardless.
After walking about 20km all up, it was time to head home back to the warmth of the chalet! I have never seen Kate so tired in my life, with her taking herself off to bed immediately after dinner and refusing to come back upstairs!
Handy Tip: Ways to tire out a kelpie – snow play!
Sunday arrived and with it the world had been transformed again! It had snowed throughout the night and continued to fall through the morning! After breakfast we all headed out to walk the Collectors Cirque trail around the village. We took a few detours along the way and headed off to explore the new snow drifts off in the forest surrounds more than once!
There was one section of bush which was too great a photograph location to pass, so Keiko and Kate made the most of their off lead time bouncing around the scrub and snowdrifts that had built up around them, as we snapped away on our cameras trying to capture the magic.
Let me tell you, when heading away with a pet photographer, don’t even try and copy what they do – there is a reason they are so talented and know what works! Kerry being just that – an amazing pet photographer – was kind enough to lend us some of her skill and snap a few family photos of Kate, Simon and I. What a keepsake of the holiday!
Our aim in walking around the village was to head off and explore some more trails, but by the time we got to the end, we had been out for hours without even realising. Time flies when having snow fun!
Unfortunately for us, it meant it was nearing home time as we had a fair drive ahead of us. We reluctantly headed back, but making sure we made time to stop and build a snowman before heading home.
Dinner Plain is a fantastic place to have a dog adventure, and we will be back next year for an extended stay to explore more of the surrounding trails. Thanks to Kerry and Keiko for having us, it was a fantastic weekend!