'Iris' author, Kassandra Papuga, on how the inspiration for her book sparked a special passion

April 27th, 2021

By Kassandra Papuga

In my previous post, I introduced you to Browny the beautiful brown alpaca who inspired by story, 'Iris'.  Browny was also the catalyst for our daughter’s love of alpacas to develop.

Our afternoon roadside Browny encounters had become almost weekly. Out of curiosity one day, I Googled “Alpaca farms” in the hopes of finding somewhere devoted to these gorgeous creatures that our daughter could feed and observe up close. What are the chances that I would discover an entire farm devoted to alpacas only ten minutes from our house?!

I investigated further and I learned that this local alpaca farm ran “Open Days” every month. The next scheduled one was in two weeks’ time. My husband and I decided we would surprise our daughter with a visit there. 

The look on our daughter’s face upon arriving at the alpaca farm was something I will never forget; excitement, astonishment, shock and pure joy. Dozens and dozens of “Brownys" roaming the paddocks  – of course, they weren’t just brown. They were also white, black, grey, fawn and speckled colours. Imagine being three years old and you are seeing over one hundred of your favourite things in one place, and you might be able to imagine how ecstatic our daughter was to be there at the alpaca farm. 

That day, and for many alpaca farm “Open Days” afterwards, our daughter fed, patted and interacted with the alpacas. She gave them nicknames and walked amongst them in their paddocks. She was in her element. We started calling her “The Alpaca Whisperer”, as it seemed the huge herd of alpacas remembered her each time she visited. 

When we asked our daughter where she wanted her fourth birthday to be held, there was only one place she wanted: 'The alpaca farm!' So, we made it happen. Alpaca feeding, alpaca cookie decorating, pin the tail on the alpaca game and an alpaca cake – definitely a one of a kind birthday party!

Even now, at 6 years old, her love of alpacas continues. At one “Open Day” we were introduced to a beautiful grey cria (a baby alpaca) born the previous day. The owners of the farm (who have now become friends of ours, due to our regular visits!) were running a “Name the Baby Alpaca” competition for farm visitors. Our daughter suggested “Barney” – and the name Barney was chosen, since it was our daughter – “The Alpaca Whisperer” who had suggested it!

So, that is how our daughter became the first child I’ve known to claim their favourite animal as the alpaca! 

*The alpaca farm I refer to in this article is Omaru Alpacas. They are located at 190 Hildebrand Road, Cottles Bridge, 3088, Victoria. Their Facebook page gives dates of upcoming “Open Days”. 

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