AUSTRALIA'S dusty dog trial rings are a long way from the lush green pastures of native Ireland, but there's nowhere in the world Aoidh Doyle would rather be.
The 26-year-old feels at home mustering sheep for a living and showing judges and crowds the special bond he has developed with his working dogs in the competition arena.
His skills will be on display during the O'Sullivans Transport Central Victorian Yard Dog Championships during the Australian Sheep & Wool Show.
It's a career path he never imagined when he left his family's dairy farm in Wexford for a holiday to Australia after finishing high school in 2011.
"I was only meant to be here six weeks, then go back to study teaching, but I loved it here so much I ended up staying," Mr Doyle said.
He took up shearing and worked his way around the country for six years, before Stuart and Maree Fox, from Fox Pastoral, offered him a full-time farming job on their 5000-hectare mixed cattle and sheep property at Merton.
There he met Tim Cavill, whose family is heavily involved in working dog trials and who shared knowledge of the craft and encouraged him to join the circuit.
"I used to shear competitively but now I am addicted to the dog trials," he said.
"I only started in September, but I've been lucky enough to win a couple of novice competitions, finish second a few times and had some placings in the open and improver classes.
"You put so much time into the dogs and when you do well, you can see the rewards for all your effort."
Mr Doyle looks forward to bringing two Kelpies to Bendigo for the trials - 2-year-old male novice Cash and 18-month-old maiden Tilly.
Two competition rings will operate on the main arena, with commentary to educate the audience about the pivotal contribution working dogs make to livestock farms.
Highlights of the three-day program include the open, improver, novice and maiden sections, the championship final, and round two of the 2019 Rural Bank-CopRice Series.
A new addition this year is the Feed Central Interstate Challenge, featuring two handlers from each represented state, with the final to be held under lights on the Saturday night.
Competition co-convenor Brian Leahy said the best dogs for working livestock shared traits such as flexibility, faithfulness and the ability to listen attentively.
"They adapt easily to our personality," Mr Leahy said.
"The great dogs have natural working ability and listen better than most, they may come with some annoying traits, but [they] happily puts up with ours as well!"