For the love of llamas

Viv Rogers reveals why these friendly and easy-going animals have become part of her family… and the local community.

When Viv Rogers takes Hamish for a walk down the street, she attracts far more attention than the average pet owner. Of course, Hamish is nothing like your average pet – he’s a llama, and a very social one at that. From popping into pubs to say a quick hello to the patrons, to meandering down to the mall making friends with the shoppers, Hamish is in his element when he is out meeting people. But he’s not the only one. Hamish is part of a herd of around 25 llamas and four alpacas, many of whom travel around the country taking part in everything from wedding and newborn baby photo shoots, to charity events, kissing booths, nursing home visits, music festivals and vineyard walks.

Known as The Llama Collective, the gregarious gang of camelids have gained a strong following thanks to their extremely friendly and unflappable natures, with their fanbase growing exponentially following an appearance with Dr Harry on the popular Channel 7 lifestyle show Better Homes and Gardens earlier this year.

Viv Rogers says, “Initially I was just looking at having them as pets, and then I came across a little one called Hamish, who was only a very young fellow and had a few issues, so I decided to bring him home.” “He was a real character and a friend of mine said, ‘We should take them out for a walk’ and for some reason I decided to take him to central Maitland. It used to take us two hours to walk from one end of the mall to the other and everywhere you went people were smiling. It was simply wonderful.

“People were fascinated by them and Hamish was such a character. He’d march into shops and stride up to people … he’s definitely the PR llama. “We started taking Hamish out more and more and then people started asking us to do things. We started advertising a bit and getting local gigs and the first big one was the Maitland Bitter and Twisted Beer Festival in 2016, but we also started doing parties and things like that because people adored him.”

Read more in issue 94 of Hunter&Coastal Lifestyle Magazine

Story by Michelle Meehan, Images courtesy of the Llama Collective and La Bella Vita Photography