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:: Tuesday, May 20, 2008 ::

Goat racers of the outback ride again

What is it about John de Groot and goats? Why should a probate lawyer in Brisbane want to open the world's first goat museum?

"I think very few people realise the incredible contribution that goats made to the life of outback Australia," he says. "They were relied on as a source of milk and meat. They pulled wagons and carted loads. They were wonderful pets, and a great source of entertainment, through the racing, which reached its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s."

In that era, most people kept a goat in their yard. In the morning, they would open the back gate and the goats would troop off to the town common to feed. At nightfall the animals would return in packs of up to 50, with each goat turning off at the house where it lived.


[Dr de Groot] is writing a book, Goat Racing in Australia: The Definitive Guide. The book features "Top Tips for Successful Goat Racing", including "tail trembling" (shaking the goat's tail), "tail rotation" (either clockwise or anti-clockwise), "under-tail tickling" (with a cane), "pebble powering" (placing a sun-warmed pebble under the animal's tail) and "hairy leg syndrome" (pulling the hairs on the goat's leg). All are designed to foster acceleration.


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