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Beyond the Bale : December 2014
38 ON FARM It is vital to the sustainability and profitability of the Australian wool industry that there are adequate numbers of skilled professional shed staff to handle a high quality Australian wool clip. As a consequence, AWI is keen to encourage participation by young people in well conducted wool handling workshops. The workshop held during the Jackie Howe Festival of the Golden Shears at the Jondaryan Woolshed in August is an example of this. The workshop attracted 27 students from Pittsworth and Oakey State High Schools to the 155 year-old historic woolshed 50kms north west of Toowoomba in Queensland. Built in 1859, the Jondaryan Woolshed was the grandest and largest woolshed in the world. It is still the largest most original of any woolshed in Australia. The eastern wing is unrestored and is just as it was in 1859 when it was built. In fact, the students could stand at the door of the woolroom and look out to the west and see the same view as they would have done in 1859! The course covered all aspects of the wool handling industry from picking up the fleece to throwing a fleece correctly. It demonstrated the technique of skirting, the different types of wool on the sheep and the areas of the body it came from. Wool industry trainers Cozette Branfield and Sophie Cameron ably provided expert instruction to the students. The Elders district wool manager for the Toowoomba region, Peter Sealy, stressed to the students the importance of correct clip preparation. The students learnt that the wool handler has a large impact on the quality of the wool fleece’s presentation and thereby the price the grower receives for their clip. Catherine Roberts of Victoria Downs Merino Stud near Morven, and shearing contractor Charlie McKenzie from western Queensland were also in attendance to offer their expert advice. “The students were all very keen and worked hard to help prepare the wool and learn more about the way a real shed would work,” organiser and MC for the event Peter Steele said. “They thoroughly enjoyed the day and the mentoring they received from the various members of the sheep and wool industry who were on hand during the day.” Agricultural Studies teacher from Pittsworth State High School, Stephen Allen, said the students truly appreciated taking part in the workshop and being part of the Jackie Howe event. “The workshop gives the students an opportunity to participate in the wool industry, which they have very limited access too,” he said. “The Jondaryan Woolshed is ideally positioned to service south east Queensland as a training facility as well as a display of Australian heritage. As a former woolgrower and shearer I look forward to AWI’s continued support of the Jackie Howe Festival.” Five students returned to the Jondaryan Woolshed the day after the workshop for the wool handling competition, which was held alongside the shearing competition, to put the skills they had learnt to test. The shearing and wool handling competitions, also supported by AWI, are the major part of the Jackie Howe Festival of the Golden Shears. It is a very prestigious event that has been well received and is a highly sought after invitation. The competition in the shearing event was fierce with Australia representative Daniel McIntyre from NSW, the winner from 2012, regaining his title. The wool handling was a close competition with the previous day’s trainer Sophie Cameron from Victoria taking out the prize which she also won last year. JACKIE HOWE WOOL HANDLING WORKSHOP Students from Pittsworth and Oakey State High Schools at the wool handling workshop. • A wool handling workshop held at the Jondaryan Woolshed in August attracted 27 agriculture students from local high schools. • An important aspect of the course was to stress the vital importance that wool handlers have on clip preparation and thereby returns to woolgrowers. AWI encourages young people to join the ranks of the wool handling industry and promotes excellence within the industry.