Issue 17, December 2021 | Article by Laura McKillop | Photos by Camilla Duffy Photography
Emelia Walton was born and bred in the Hawkesbury region of New South Wales, growing up along-side her brother and sisters with her two parents. Whilst in the Hawkesbury, Emelia completed a Diploma in Agriculture, worked on horse studs and at the local Horseland store. Growing up, she always had property around her and this is what helped to initiate her interest in working dogs and the livestock industry.
Emelia has always had a love of dogs and they have been in her life from a young age. Around nine years ago, Emelia purchased her first Kelpie Tilly, from Londonderry NSW. She spent time travelling to trials with her and successfully competing to an Improver Yard Dog Trial level. During her trialling travels, she found her second dog, Pinky from Bethungra, a small town north-east of Wagga Wagga in NSW.
Despite being young and growing up in Western-Sydney, Emelia has always wanted to work on the land. Her parents were supportive and encouraged her to “just go do it”. With her family’s blessing, she started applying for jobs. Soon after, with the help of a friendly introduction from a fellow competitor and friend Nathan Cayfe, she landed an interview then began work at Boorowa on a 1200-acre sheep property as a farm hand.
She remained in Boorowa around a year, until the owners decided to retire. In this time, she met her now fiancé Hamish, who was then working in a local gun shop.
Emelia then moved on to ‘Suffolkvale’ where she worked with dogs, horses and sheep along-side Nathan Cayfe. However, she soon found that she didn’t enjoy the horses as much as she used to and applied for the Livestock Overseer role at Bobbara, a mixed farming operation in the Riverina, NSW. She has now been on this property for close to 5 years and her fiancé, Hamish now works there too.
Her third and main dog, Eveready Roy II had a massive impact on the traits that she discovered she did and didn't want in a working dog. Originally, she liked a push button type of dog that she could throw commands at, however, Roy has shown her how to let the dog just do its job and solve problems without constant direction. This is very much how Emelia likes to operate these days.
Emelia recognises that she prefers her dogs to ‘have a brain’, with the ability to work things out for themselves. It is also important for her dogs to have a strong drive and a lot of heart. As Emelia is reluctant to be constantly buying and selling dogs, she finds herself looking for a pup that is happy, joyful, with a friendly nature and in her words, “something that looks half good” too.
Finding it is a rather difficult process, Emelia doesn’t like buying a pup that she hasn’t seen, based purely off its bloodlines. She prefers to find something that suits her personality, something she thinks she can bond with. Currently, she is not running many dogs but recognises that she does put a lot of pressure on them to work long days as she needs them to perform consistently in her work life.
These days it has come down to a lot of on the job training due to the workload and nature of her role at Bobbara. She doesn’t have too many commands on young dogs, not willing to override their natural ability and thinking. Emelia has noticed that she is able to identify a dogs’ natural work and ability very quickly, which is what she likes to see and is what she is breeding for. She is passionate about watching her young dogs grow and develop. She also takes her pups wherever she goes until they are ready to start work as she finds that they have a bit more respect for her and just want to be around people as a result of doing this.
There is no particular trainer that Emelia has moulded her training around, but rather, she watches and takes little bits and pieces from everyone, then goes home and tries it for herself. She admits that she isn’t one to “go and talk to people and pick their brains”, however, one of the biggest things she has taken away from watching others is the importance of patience.
Eveready Roy II and Emelia have become an extremely strong, successful team together both at work and in trials. Together they have won countless Open Yard Dog trials and most recently the 2020 NSW State Yard Dog Championship at Wagga Wagga. Emelia believes that Roy really deserved the win and that, “it was nice for him to be recognised to win an event like that. He has done a lot of work for me and is really reliable”. Emelia believes that she is, “just the eyes of the operation, (but) Roy does all the work”.
Many people may already know the name Emelia Walton after her great result with Eveready Spud at the 2021 Wagga Wagga Auction. Spud was the highest sold dog on offer, selling for a whopping $34,000 and being the second highest Kelpie sold at auction in Australia.
Emelia is aspiring to breed and train dogs that she can take to work with her every day who are reliable, with that big heart and drive she likes. Currently, she doesn’t want to be a big-time breeder but rather just breed quality dogs for herself that suit her and the type of work that she does.
Her message for young people coming through or into the working dog and agricultural industry sounds very much like her parent’s advice to her many years ago, “just give it a go, you’ve got nothing to lose”.