Bizarre Festivals

Published on September 4th, 2012 | by Christopher Moriarty


Pigs do fly: Pig diving in Australia

Babe the Sheep-Pig may have earned fame in the movies for his ability to herd sheep, but those achievements look really quite dull in comparison to the real-life celebrity porkers that earn the adulation of the crowds at shows across Australia by proving that pigs do actually fly. That's right, It's Pig Diving.

Sport and pork must be two of the most popular things amongst Aussies, what with their penchant for having a flutter on the races while enjoying some ‘snags on the barbie’, so it’s little wonder that they’ve found a unique way to combine the two ingredients. The result is the crowd favourite that is pig diving, whereby the popular pinkies dive into pools of water in front of the adoring crowds. Never a nation to miss out on a competitive element, the hustling hogs are put to work on the race track too, doing laps in front of the audience in their dapper racing vests. 

A Warm Up

Pigs race around the specially constructed track at an agricultural show in Australia. Picture courtesy of

But these little piggies are more than just fast food, they are specially trained and expertly reared animals and over the past 20 years have been staple ingredients of many state fairs and agricultural shows across Australia. They’re not sluggish either, putting to bed the ‘lazy pig’ preconceptions, with the team of 10 often covering the 36 metre track at squealing speed, completing it in a really rather rapid five seconds. They even have jumps and ramps to contend with along the route, so there’s no room for slouches among the swines. 

But while the racing may satisfy the need for speed, it is the sight of a pig willingly diving into water from a specially designed diving board that makes for the grand finale. While the grace and style may not quite have Tom Daly quaking in his Speedos, for sheer entertainment value it’s surely worthy of a medal. 

The 10 metre Board

One of the diving pigs makes the leap from the purpose-built platform. Picture courtesy of

Brave Miss Piggy is the queen of the high dive, repeatedly making the hair-raising 4-metre leap from the platform to the pool and has even made her way into the Guinness Book of World Records. 

The purpose-built race track and diving platform for Michael Vandeleur's team of pigs. Picture courtesy of

Michael Vandeleur is the man behind the bizarre entertainment and claims to be Australia’s only Professional Pig Racing Trainer, with he and his father’s teams of pigs proudly racing and diving since 1993 during which time they have become star attractions at pretty much every major Royal Show from Perth to Sydney and from Darwin to Melbourne. 

A diving pig prepares to hit the water at the Royal Melbourne Show. Image courtesy of Sports Illustrated/Getty.

You’ll be relieved to know, the pigs live a pretty pampered life too, so there’s not much chance they’ll be ending up on the butcher’s block, instead enjoying celebrity status as they tour Australia in their air-conditioned trailers. 

About the Author

Christopher Moriarty

Chris Moriarty is a journalist and editor of Birmingham lifestyle monthly Brum Notes Magazine. He enjoys sneering at other people's poor tastes in music, pretending to snowboard and the ritual disappointment that comes with supporting Aston Villa.

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