South Australia's real-life unicorn - bought for two slabs of beer

Local Burra icon Joey the Sheep and his owner Michael Foster have become quite the celebrities over the past 12 months.
Local Burra icon Joey the Sheep and his owner Michael Foster have become quite the celebrities over the past 12 months.

Joey the Ewe-nicorn is making his point.

Atop his Merino head is a tall bony growth that gives him the appearance of the mythical unicorn or horned horse.

At Burra in South Australia's Mid North, he is a local hero, but has made a stab at becoming known in thousands of loungerooms around the country.

His strange birth feature - and the fact that he was bought for two cartons of beer - captured attention Australia-wide.

Even his owner, Elders Burra stock agent Michael Foster, says the ram - a local icon - thinks he is special.

Now almost two years old, the ram developed quite the buzz last year and was quickly thrown into the limelight.

He made headlines around the country with television appearances on Channel 7 and Channel 10's The Living Room alongside celebrity vet, Dr Chris Brown.

Joey even went international with mentions in Singapore, France and England.

Not bad for a sheep who was saved from the slaughter for a couple of beer cartons.

I rang back the owner and asked how much he wanted for him and he said, 'just a beer'. I said, 'you need more than that', so we bought him for two cartons."

Michael Foster

He was hard to miss when Mr Foster spotted him among his original mob near Hallett, given his striking appearance - one horn growing from the top of his head like a real-life unicorn.

"I thought it was pretty unique," Mr Foster said.

"We had a barbecue with a few mates later that night and I showed them some photos and we thought. 'why don't we all chip in and buy him?'

"I rang back the owner and asked how much he wanted for him and he said, 'just a beer'.

"I said, 'you need more than that', so we bought him for two cartons."

Mr Foster said he had not expected Joey to gain so much attention.

It started with a television debut on Channel 7 Adelaide's news and snowballed.

Calls from international and interstate media outlets flooded Mr Foster's phone after the bulletin.

Media personality Andrew "Cosi" Costello produced a piece on Joey after a guest appearance at the Burra Show while comedian Mick Molloy flagged his interest in buying Joey, but he remained part of the Foster flock.

Sometimes visitors pull up outside Mr Foster's house hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous creature.

Mr Foster said he was being recognised as the "unicorn man".

"You go down the sale yards and everyone in that circle knows who you are now," he said.

"It has all become a bit of a joke now, I suppose.

"But outside of that, it is not as though you walk down the street and people go 'oh you are the unicorn man', but locally it is certainly interesting."

As his reputation grew, so did Joey's public appearances.

He featured in the Burra Show and the Quorn Christmas Pageant where he was named Most Original Thing.

At Easter, he will travel north to Yunta for the town's Easter Tennis Tournament.

Mr Foster said Joey had certainly become used to the extra attention.

"When we got him he was just another sheep, but it did not take long to lead him around the house a couple of times," he said.

"He just takes it all in stride now, I think he knows he is something special."

This story A real-life ewe-nicorn - bought for two slabs of beer first appeared on The Recorder.