World champion shearer, Dwayne Black, has described the 18-strong shearing school held at Tambo as the start of big things for Queensland.
The Western Australian identity has held a training role for Australian Wool Innovation for a number of years and has travelled the country in that role, and said the number of young people signing on for the event organised by Blackall’s Alison Krieg was the best turnout at a school ever.
It was made even more remarkable by the remoteness of the location, he said.
“There’s probably been a bit of a lack in training here,” he said.
“A lot of (participants) are from a farming background and want to upskill.
“Others hadn’t done a lot and they just wanted to give it a go.”
Fellow trainer, Surat’s Boogie Ferguson, was also surprised to see 18 people putting their hand up, saying shearers such as himself were usually bred into the job.
He put some of the interest down to the way the wool industry in general was looking up.
“Drought knocked it round but with the price of wool, people are looking to get into sheep,” he said. “The cluster fences also mean there’ll be more people in sheep once it rains.”
Boogie emphasised both the financial benefits and the competitive sporting aspects of modern-day shearing, saying he’d won $15,000 in 12 months at sports shear shows at Orange, Cunnamulla, Dubbo and Garah.
“There’s money to be made and you can travel the world,” he said. “There’s a lifestyle behind it, like rodeo – shearing is a real profession these days, it’s something people train for.”
Dwayne said it had been great to be given the opportunity to influence habits for the good, before the participants developed any bad ones that would be hard to break.
“The tendency has been for the old dude shearing the most up the end, that everyone tends to believe,” he said.
Dwayne’s top shearing tips
- Attitude/temperament – you’ve got to have a cool, calm head in often hot and dry conditions.
- Work ethic – it’s part and parcel of the shearing industry. It appeals to prospective employers, who want someone they can see is trying hard.
- Technique – if you’ve got comfortable sheep, it’s comfortable for the shearer. If you can control the animal, you’ve got a chance.
- Gear – poor maintenance and sharpening contributes to 80pc of the problems in shearing. Caring for tools and sharpening properly is vital. People worry they’ll wear their gear out too quickly, so they don’t do it enough.
Dwayne said he’d be happy to return to western Queensland if more schools were planned.
Longreach co-organiser, Tanya King, said she’d had more enquiry than the initial 18 that had taken part, but only so many could be fitted in at one time.