Warrnambool's Maremmas have been keeping campers awake at night

New maremma puppy at Flagstaff Hill. Pictured: The new 12-week-old female puppy at Flagstaff Hill, who will be named in an upcoming contest. Picture: Amy Paton

New maremma puppy at Flagstaff Hill. Pictured: The new 12-week-old female puppy at Flagstaff Hill, who will be named in an upcoming contest. Picture: Amy Paton

WARRNAMBOOL’S Maremmas may be a tourist drawcard, but they’ve also been a problem for some visitors this summer.

Incessant barking from the dogs at Flagstaff Hill has been keeping campers awake at night in the nearby Surfside Holiday Park.

Mt Gambier’s Lea Clark, who has been staying at Surfside for 36 years, said the nightly barking “had been going on for three weeks”.

She said the dogs were a great tourist attraction but “enough was enough”.

“Most nights we’d wake with the barking,” Ms Clark said.

“It’s a talking point in the park. Our whole aisle was talking about it, and the people behind us were having a big conversation about ‘those bloody dogs’, that they look good but we’d wish they’d shut up at night.”

On Wednesday night, Surfside Holiday Park campers finally got some sleep after the council responded to complaints.

“It was certainly a good night’s sleep last night,” Ms Clark said.

“It was quite noticeable that the dogs weren’t there.”

The council’s manager of visitor economy David McMahon said the dogs – Amor, Avis, Eudy and Tula – usually stay overnight with a flock of chickens at Flagstaff Hill as part of their training. 

But in response to the complaints measures have been put “in place to try and prevent the dogs from disturbing campers in the future”,” Mr McMahon said.

“With the increased activity at Surfside, the dogs have been barking more than usual as a way to protect the chickens,” he explained.

“While we need to make sure that our Maremmas’ guardian instincts remain sharp so they can continue to guard the penguin colony, we also need to respect everyone’s right to be able to get a good night’s sleep.

“When staying overnight at Flagstaff Hill, the dogs are now being kept in their enclosures rather than remaining in the paddock with the chickens.

“There is a farm where Eudy and Tula have previously stayed when not on the island, and they spent Wednesday night there.

“We have had no further complaints since we have put these measures in place.

“The dogs are trained to protect a flock of chickens at Flagstaff Hill. This is a crucial step which has allowed them to successfully protect the penguin colony on Middle Island.”