Every Man and His Dog

Original article by: Lisa Herbertson, Manly Daily

At Christmas Eve each year, every man and his dog turns out for the The Scotland Island Dog Race. The race is run between Bells Wharf, on Scotland Island and Church Point on the mainland.

The story goes that the dog race has been held every Christmas Eve since 1974, when the dogs of two ferry captains swam for line honours...

Captain Dave Baume, over a few drinks, declared that his ferry was faster than captain Lawrie Duff’s ferry. In turn, Lawrie claimed that his dog 'Diesel' could swim faster than Dave’s dog 'Connie.' To put the matter to rest and find out who really had the fastest dog, the two men decided to have a dog swimming race. 

And so a tradition was born.

Lawrie and Dave agreed that the entry would be a bottle of beer and a can of dog food with the winner taking the lot. (The same entry fee exists today - A longneck beer and a can of Pal. Today however there are several categories, so needless to say there is plenty of Pal and VB handed out.

The dogs would swim between Bells Wharf on Scotland Island and Church Point on the Mainland — a 600-meter stretch of water.

Word of the upcoming dog race spread quickly and when Christmas Eve arrived, a large crowd, including a news crew gathered to watch several dogs and their owners paddle to Church Point.

As it turned out, neither of the captains’ dogs were first across the line. Instead, Scotland Island resident Chris Cowper and his Labrador, Mandy won the race.

Now, 40 years on, locals and “out-of-towners” still bring their dogs to Church Point on Christmas Eve, and this year Bob was top dog. The field paddles the 500m to 600m stretch of water between Scotland Island and Church Point in Pittwater and crowds gathered on both sides of Pittwater to take in all the action.


The first race in 1974
This video was provided by a news crew that recorded the first race, and it includes clips from the cutting room floor. Note that there is no audio.

Jack Thompsons profile of the Event in 1988

Scotland lsland Dog Race 2015 - Rachel Hooper

Photo Gallery

Dali, the tiniest entrant in the 2014 raceA community eventCompetitors in the 40th annual Scotland Island Dog Race,
Carlton, the second-place in the 40th annual Scotland Island Dog RaceEveryone loves watching the Scotland Island Dog Race. Photo: Lisa HerbertsonCrowds gathered at Church Point for the Scotland Island Dog Race
Beer and dog food on the menu for winners. Photo: L. HerbertsonSassy was the first local dog to finish in 2014. Photo: Alec KinghamCoco, the last dog in the 40th annual Scotland Island Dog Race, is held by his proud owner, Jasper Mueller. Photo: A KinghamThe race, featuring over 40 dogs from the Pittwater vicinity
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Original article by: Lisa Herbertson, Manly Daily

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