The Wonder Down Under

Australia loves its wildlife and loves its purebred dogs.

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An old vaudeville joke goes: What was the largest island in the world before Australia was discovered? The answer is Australia.

The land Down Under is a landscape of stunning contrasts, from desert to bush, from beaches to snowy mountains, and it contains some of the most diverse and peculiar wildlife imaginable. Consider kangaroos and koalas, and the most spectacular birdlife found anywhere. Think of the odd duck-billed platypus (the scientists in 1797 who discovered this tiny frenetic riverside mammal were accused of generating a hoax, because it had a duck's bill, webbed feet, sleek fur, yet laid eggs). Australia is the land of strange and wonderful creatures. The night sky reveals different stars and the water in the sink circles down the drain in the opposite direction.

The dog show scene in the 1976 film Oz is also different to the rest of the world. There is a greater sense of community, a more welcoming relaxing atmosphere. Many clubs have their own show grounds and facilities. The Townsville Kennel Assocation, in northern Queensland, for example, has a beautiful park-like area, with excellent night lighting, a swimming pool, a playground for the kiddies, the ever-present barbie (barbecue) and a well-stocked and well-tended bar. The Western Australia Kennel Club, in Perth, has manicured lawns, indoor air-conditioned show rings for the 100-plus-degree temperatures, and a two-story building that not only houses the Kennel Club's offices but contains showers, meeting roms and the requisite pub for exhibitors. The municipal government in Perth designated a specific area of town for dog owners and breeders, and the club is situated in the middle of the doggy district.

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