Pat a 'Paca at the Pantry

Jade McCarthy-Bache with some of the alpacas on her father Peter’s MiaJai Alpacas stud at Pearces Creek.
Jade McCarthy-Bache with some of the alpacas on her father Peter’s MiaJai Alpacas stud at Pearces Creek. Dominic Feain

ALPACAS will be taking over the Eltham Pantry this Sunday as part of National Alpaca Week.

Local breeders Peter McCarthy and Sali Bache are hoping to attract more people to the fledgling industry that is fast gaining popularity on the Northern Rivers.

“Alpacas are really interesting animals and not many people have had the chance to get up close and interact with them. It’s amazing how many people fall in love with Alpacas once they get to know them,” Mr McCarthy said.

“We’re inviting everyone from the Northern Rivers to come along to “Pat a ‘Paca” and learn all about the animal’s really interesting history and the importance of its fleece.

“The Eltham idea is a test to gauge the response and see if we get other breeders onboard next year, but this year we’ll have a selection of animals for people to have a look at (and) some temporary pens so people can feed and pet them.

“We’ll have rugs and blankets made from alpaca wool and some arts and crafts so people can see where the fleece ends up.”

Often described as a strange cross between a camel and a sheep, Alpacas are prized for their fleece, which is considered by some to be better than fine merino or mohair.

Mr McCarthy said the alpaca is a perfect animal for small North Coast farms, given its low maintenance and high value – but there are other benefits.

Renowned for their gentle temperament, the couple’s three-year-old daughter, Jade McCarthy-Bache, considers the animal her own pets and loves feeding them. She giggles constantly at their “wobbly heads”.

“We have fallen in love with their beauty and wonderful nature – they have added great value to our farm and we consider them to have aviable return if well-managed,” Mr McCarthy said.

“I don’t like to call them lawnmowers, but they really do help us keep the whole place clean and tidy.

“We’ve got 26 acres, mainly macadamias and pecans, and then nine alpacas on about five acres.” The alpacas will be at Eltham Valley Pantry this Sunday from 9am to 4pm.

Topics:  national alpaca week

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