The young people of western Queensland have demonstrated their desire to be part of a wool revival; now the ball is in the court of local shearing contractors.
That’s the challenge put out by Blackall’s Alison Krieg, who instigated a completely booked-out shearing school at Tambo recently.
Together with AWI’s shearing industry development coordinator, Jim Murray, and with enthusiastic input from Tambo property owners, Andrew and Louise Martin, and Longreach shearing identity, Tanya King, 17 novices from around western Queensland were initiated into the intricacies of buzzing bogeye handpieces and feisty wethers.
They were put through their paces at Macfarlane, west of Tambo, by two of the industry’s best, world record holder, Dwayne Black, and Surat shearing identity, Boogie Ferguson.
The pair epitomised the work ethic needed to succeed in the job, along with the camaraderie, and created a perfect atmosphere for learning, according to Alison.
“Just to go into the shed and see everyone enjoying it, was a good feeling,” she said.
They had six stands going to provide one-on-one coaching that showed each person how to shear competently and cleanly, and now Alison says it’s up to the contractors to give them a go.
“There’s no lack of work if they’re prepared to travel, but it’s a big ask for a young kid these days, without that support base around them.
“Someone needs to take them under their wing.”
Alison said the Martins had pledged to employ locals for future shearings if they were available, which was something that needed to be extended throughout the district to provide a base for them.
“Travis Campbell came and helped me roll my wool out – he was such a keen young bloke, I thought people like him should have the opportunities that you get from shearing," she said.
Some of the participants stayed on and cut out the shed, 1000 wethers, with Barcaldine’s Andrew Ross, while Blackall’s Kelvin Blacker came out of retirement to provide some of his legendary tucker for the shearing school for the week.
Making wool work real again
“If we ever get rain, I can see trucks going north filled with sheep.”
They’re the words of Tambo grazier, Louise Martin, but they’re echoed in the minds of hundreds of people across western Queensland aching to assist a revival of the wool industry, both for the economic boost it will bring and for the jobs it will give young people in the region.
Louise and husband, Andrew Martin, provided the venue and sheep for the AWI-sponsored shearing school, which she described as fantastic.
“If we don’t get the young ones in the industry, it will die out,” she said. “This was a good opportunity for young people to have a go. We’ve been talking about rebuilding the industry – this showed the interest is there.”
Longreach’s Tanya King was just as enthusiastic, saying a lot of people had left to find more consistency in their work schedule.
“Up here you have to travel anywhere from Eromanga to Winton.”