Within the VER region, there are three sub-groups that operate to help cover a geographically diverse area by providing support in that locality.
Dandenong Ranges Alpaca Group (DRAG) was established in 2005 and has been meeting monthly every since.
Our informal get togethers are held on the first Tuesday of each month. We rotate going to each others farms and occasionally holding our meetings in local cafes etc. Going to different farms gives us all the opportunity to see other farm set ups and meet the alpacas and occasionally a goat, sheep, donkey or camel or two!! The meetings provide an excellent opportunity to catch up on all things alpaca in our region. One of the most important features of our group is the support given so freely, the friendship and the chance to chat openly about issues and problems we might have encountered on our properties. With some of the founding members still attending there is so much experience which is eagerly shared by all.
Meetings 10.30 am, 1st Tuesday of each month.
Group Convenor: Robyn von Strokirch
Mobile: 0447 683 966
New members always welcome.
Located within the geographic boundaries of the Mornington Peninsula Shire, the MPAB was established in 1998 and in the following year registered as an Incorporated Association.
Supported by a committed and active membership, the Group very quickly gained a presence in the community and tourist life of the Peninsula. Members were rostered to run promotions at local Craft Markets, Wine Weekends and other Community events. Within the ﬁrst twelve months, the Group had held a highly successful Alpaca Expo at the Red Hill Showgrounds and won a prestigious Mornington Business Council award for “excellence in Enterprise and Innovation”.
Many years on, although no longer registered as an Incorporated. Association, MPAB is still going strong – has its own website and continues its involvement in the promotion of alpacas at a number of community events – working alongside other Peninsula businesses.
While many of our original members have retired or moved on to larger properties, we have been fortunate to grow and maintain a stable and enthusiastic membership over the years. We continue to welcome new alpaca owners, young and old – anyone with an interest in alpacas.
MPAB members comprise the “Hospitality Team” that assists the Alpaca Section at the Red Hill Show each year. We also conduct an annual ﬂeece collection, inviting anyone with alpacas to bring their ﬂeeces for sorting, baling and subsequent delivery to the pre-selected buyer which to date, has been Australian Alpaca Fleece Ltd (AAFL). Our Annual Christmas gettogether has always been a must. Invariably held at a local restaurant, we go somewhere different each year, and take turns to organise the event.
Our members are diverse. There are some who run their alpacas as a full time business, including on-farm shops, others who are hobby farmers, and some who have a few wethers as pets. We even have one member who is still at school, while busily establishing his herd of Suri and Huacaya and ﬁnding time to value add his own alpaca ﬂeece in support of his on-line alpaca product shop!
Meetings are held on our farms every two months, usually in the evening of the third Tuesday – sometimes incorporating a farm walk, other times a guest speaker or a demonstration. Our meetings are informal and always ﬁnish with everyone gathered around the supper table, enjoying a chat over a coffee. One of the most important features of our group is the support given so freely, the friendship and the chance to openly discuss issues and problems we might have encountered on our properties.
2020, however, has been a little different. Although we have been unable to hold our face-to-face meetings during Covid restrictions, we have continued to stay in touch through our MPAB eChatroom through which alpacas have been sold, others rescued and re-homed, and many ideas shared and problems solved.
If you are interested in ﬁnding out more, we would love to hear from you!
The Nillumbik Alpaca Group, or NAGS, was founded in 2001 by two alpaca farmers who were very quickly joined by two others. They were Liz Cecil and Meredith Atkinson followed by Liz Parsons and Heather Gardner. All of these members were in the Victorian Eastern Region of the Australian Alpaca Association. More recently, breeders from the Victorian Central Region have joined. NAGS is based in the Victorian Local Government Area of Nillumbik, which as it is on the border of the Central Region and in the extreme west of the Eastern Region it is conveniently located to have membership from both.
While membership has fluctuated, there has always been a core of passionate alpaca people. They are passionate about sharing their knowledge and discussing the range of issues which affect every alpaca breeder, from buying and selling, genetics, breeding, and birthing through nutrition, vitamins, vaccines and other additives, to shearing and caring for and treating sick animals. An important part of caring for alpacas is to monitor their teeth and we are lucky to have in Victoria an excellent alpaca dentist.
We are in other words a support group which meets for breakfast in a local café every third Wednesday throughout the year with a break over the Christmas holiday and an annual NAGS celebration with partners. However, we are much more than that. At first, we met in each other’s houses for lunch, which had the advantage of seeing each other’s animals but this became difficult for people to fit in and extra work in preparation when other aspects of lives demanded attention.
We also assist each other between meetings when help is needed, whether it is with shearing, or with moving animals, helping to take animals to the vet, or arranging workshops for practical fleece preparation, marketing of animals, business design, veterinary advice, and processing of the fibre.
The beauty as well as practicality of alpaca fleece and how those who are expert in the various crafts and design can make beautiful art from this fibre is a huge interest. Some members have their fibre processed and then sell the resulting product online or in their own very popular outlets. This can be combined with farm tours and alpaca feeding and walking, and even yoga with the calming presence of alpacas. Weddings on farm are also very popular.
Some enthusiastic members have even arranged for large truckloads of hay to be brought in to be shared and sold to alpaca and horse owners in the shire.
One member has published a series of books on alpaca genetics and husbandry with illustrations and examples from some of our own experiences.
Above all, we share a love of these wonderful, beautiful animals, which have given us opportunities to travel interstate and even to Peru to its flamboyant Alpaca Fiesta in Araquipa. Our local shows for fleece and animals, including the two breeds of alpaca, huacaya and suri, are also popular. Most of all, the pleasure they provide every day is why we have them.
As a final comment, alpacas are friendship, new and established.
Group Convenor: Heather Gardner
Mobile: 0417 580 507
NAGS Facebook page