Huskies a hit at Harcourt

Members of the Siberian Husky Club of Victoria with their dogs were an added source of interest at Harcourt Applefest on Saturday.

Members of the Siberian Husky Club of Victoria with their dogs were an added source of interest at Harcourt Applefest on Saturday.

Molly Hodgson with siberian husky Kenai at Harcourt Applefest on Saturday.

Molly Hodgson with siberian husky Kenai at Harcourt Applefest on Saturday.

Siberian huskies and their owners were a source of extra interest at last Saturday's Harcourt Applefest.

Siberian Husky Club of Victoria members from across the state attended with their dogs and set up a temporary base in the shade. Huskies don't like the heat.

Club members took their handsome dogs for a demonstration walk through the festival at 11am, before the mercury climbed too high.

Keen to establish sled dog racing as a regular fixture at Harcourt, club members like Bendigo's Jon Marcollo were at Applefest to introduce the dogs and the concept of sled racing to the wider community.

And with about 25 of the dogs on show, club members fielded plenty of interest and inquiries throughout the day.

Jon says the club is now preparing to hold a sled dog workshop at Henry of Harcourt cidery on April 28.

Henry of Harcourt have been very gracious and they're letting us camp in their paddock and run in their orchard," Jon said.

"What we're doing is setting up a workshop to teach anyone that's interested to come and see what we do.

"So we're basically setting up a miniature racetrack through the orchard, in and out of the apple trees. It'll just be one-dog teams. Fundamentally it's to teach anybody who's interested what's involved in racing and how to work with their dogs properly."

Meanwhile the club is continuing to investigate opportunities to establish sled dog racing as a regular new attraction for Harcourt.

"It's about getting the land area that we need to run a race," Jon says.

"They don't like running in the middle of a paddock. You need something to follow so we need a track or a forest, something that gives them a direction.

"That's basically what we're trying to work through now is where is the area that we can do that at.

"It's just a wonderful family atmosphere but it can go to a national quality of racing too, so there's really competitive teams and then there's teams just out having a bit of fun."

Little River resident Molly Hodgson and her beautiful young dog Kenai were among the members of the sled dog racing fraternity at Applefest

Molly and Kenai have competed at some superb locations including Mount Baw Baw, Dinner Plain and Falls Creek and Molly says sled dog racing is exhilarating.

"I get to marvel at their power and intelligence," said Molly who has four Huskies.

"They can get up to some pretty exciting speeds. My largest team that I've raced is four dogs but they can race up to eight dogs.

"We can only race when it's under 15 degrees so we're often racing in the dark."

Jon says Harcourt's leafy Oak Forest is a potentially ideal location for the sport that has the potential to become a significant additional tourist drawcard.