Ian O'Connell has been surrounded by and had a passion for working dogs since his earliest memories. Growing up on a beef and sheep farm, all stock work was done on horseback with a heavy reliance on a team of kelpies as most of the mustering and droving took place in rough, inaccessible terrain on a heavily timbered landscape. Working dogs and stock work has remained a significant factor in his life for over half a century. In 1996 Ian was instrumental in the creation and development of the Australian Kelpie Muster in Casterton. He has sold dogs at the Casterton Auction on 14 occasions having topped the sale on 9 of those years and making 2nd highest price on the remaining 5 years. He has had considerable success at trialling, both with sheep and cattle including winning 7 State Championships. Ian has also been called upon to judge 5 state championships and 2 Australian Yard Dog Championships. As well as running his own property at the foothills of the Grampians, for many years Ian has also conducted dog handling schools including all R.I.S.T working dog related courses and also holds private clinics all around South East Australia. Ian believes that working dogs have made an enormous contribution to our nation and as such deserve to be treated with the utmost respect and fairness.
Celeste was raised on a farming property just east of picturesque Dunkeld in Victoria's Western District. Despite moving to Perth with her family at a young age, Celeste's love of the land, livestock and working dogs never wained which becomes obvious when you hear the lyrics and melodies that are entrenched in her music as one half of the renowned Sunny Cowgirls. For the last 10 years whenever Celeste is not touring the country with sister Sophie, she can be found working with Ian in everyday farm duties but in particular anything to do with the kelpies, whether thats training pups, helping run dog schools or assisting in demonstrating the amazing skills of our little work mates at places such as the Melbourne Show, Australia Day celebrations in the city or to the tourists from both home and abroad that drop into the Hamilton property. Celeste's calmness and pleasant demeanor make her a natural for working stock and bringing out the best in our working dogs.