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The Great Nundle Dog Race 2017 - May 7

The 2017 Great Nundle Dog Race is on Sunday 7th May and is probably the only race in the country where competitors might stop off for a sniff, a scratch or a toilet break!

This annual event held near Tamworth (NSW) is a great day out in the country attracting families and their dogs from the local region as well as the Hunter, Sydney and North Coast.


The very first dog race at Nundle was held in 1979 after a bet was waged by a couple of farmers arguing over whose dog was fastest. The race began at the Peel River and ended at the local pub, The Peel Inn, a distance of about 150m. Both farmers lost their bets however, as the race was won by a dog called Kelly, owned by the caravan park caretaker!

The farmers took the race idea further and turned it into The Great Nundle Dog Race (GNDR) open to working dogs. The race nowadays involves over twenty races for all types of dogs and is one of Nundle's major annual tourist events.

Nundle Public School is a small school and is relatively isolated being 65km from Tamworth, the nearest major centre. The money raised at the event is used to subsidise excursions for students and purchase educational equipment.


There are many races to enter (and great prizes to be won) such as the House Dog Races, Mongrel Invitation Stakes and Juvenile Canine Mini Stakes. If your dog can jump onto the back of a ute, there is the Doggy High Jump, or if he loves to chase then you might try him in Stumpy’s Circular Dog Derby.

The main event is of course The Great Nundle Dog Race, which is open to bona fide working dogs only. District graziers and station hands pit their pride and joy working dogs against each other to keep the tradition alive of finding the fastest dog. Of course, these days it’s all about keeping the dog on track to run the hundred metre sprint, and those dogs that are both fast and well-trained usually make it to the end!

As a spectator, watching the races is great entertainment. Each dog lines up for the race being held by a “handler” until the starter drops the red flag. Meanwhile, the “catcher” who is usually the owner, has been holding the dog’s attention from the finish line 100 metres away. 

This is a vital component of race success and is usually achieved by walking backwards from the dog to the finish line without losing eye contact. At the call of the starter the handler frees the dog and the catcher starts yelling and whistling to make the dog run to the finish line. 

Absolute mayhem is the result while the freed dogs try to work out where to run. Some dogs run off barking to chase a friend, others turn their heads while running with a gleeful look in their eye as if to say, “Come on, let’s play!” Some don’t care for what’s going on and make a dash for safety on the side line, or look confused and run back towards the start!

Those who do happen to run in the right direction might make it to the end of the race, and the first dog to cross the finish line, “irrespective of the route taken or the fights entered into”, is the winner.

The Steeplechase event is very popular. This involves dogs running over a series of hay bales on a shorter course towards their owners who are yelling and shouting at them to “Come 'ere!”

Canine versions of spiders, Cleopatra, Superman and other amazing costumes appear in the Best Dressed Dog Fashion Parade.

Greyhounds and Whippets are not forgotten with special races for only these breeds. To be fair to the common house dog, they are not allowed to enter any other race, but there are still plenty of other events for them to take part in!


A good race for the kids to enter with their dog is the first race of the day at 10:30am, the Junior Dog on a Leash

Kids hold their dogs on the lead and line up at the start to run as fast as they can to the end with their dog. 

This is followed by the children’s running races and sack races. Other entertainment on the ground and in the school grounds includes a jumping castle, face painting, balloons, show bags and lucky dips to keep them amused all day.


Every event has great prizes for first, second and third which have been donated by local and regional business houses. Most first place prizes include a bag of dog food. A raffle is drawn at the end of the day with great holiday and accommodation prizes.

When: Sunday 7th May 2017, from 10:30am

Where: Nundle Recreation Ground (65km south-east of Tamworth in north-west NSW)

Cost: Free to attend. Gold cost donation to gain entry to the race

For more information, please visit

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