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Beyond the Bale : March 2015
30 ON FARM If anyone ever needed reminding of the relevance of industry investment in shearer training, one has only to look as far as living legend Ian Elkins. The 51 year old, who was born and bred in the Boorowa district of NSW, began his career at the age of 16 by attending a school for novice shearers run by the Australian Wool Corporation. Ian has gone on to spend his entire working life in the shearing industry and will next month be inducted into the Australian Shearers’ Hall of Fame to join a select group of 32 other legends, from Jackie Howe to Shannon Warnest. “I grew up on a small sheep farm next to the Merryville stud, and ever since primary school I wanted to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and become a shearer,” Ian said. “When I left school at 16, I attended a course for novice shearers at Parkes followed a few months later by an improvers’ course at Waterloo Station near Narromine. These courses really set me up in the industry, and for the next six years I worked for the large shearing contractors Grazcos. I travelled all over NSW, shearing at many large sheds including ‘Cleveland’ at Mungindi which was a 16-stand shed with 32,000 sheep.” In 1986 Ian based his work back in Boorowa. Not long after, he began his outstanding shearing competition career for which he has become well known. He won his first Open competition in 1987 and over the following 15 years until his retirement from competition in 2002 he won more than 120 Open competitions and competed in all states of Australia except the Northern Territory. He won four Australian Merino Championships, Australian Shearer of the Year on eight occasions and the International Professional Shearing Contest Denver USA in 1994. Very successful at shearing all types of sheep and in all conditions, he also represented Australia at several international events including in the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand and the USA. “I’ve loved all the travelling – internationally as well as across Australia – that my work and competitions have enabled,” Ian said. “Shearing is a great opportunity for youngsters who want to travel – especially as Australian shearers have a good reputation internationally for their skills and work ethic.” Ian’s success at the elite level of show shearing competitions has significantly contributed to his reputation and credibility as a coach and trainer for young shearers, something which he has been doing since 2004 through TAFE Western and more recently with AWI to young shearers throughout NSW. SHEARING LEGEND IAN ELKINS Ian Elkins will next month be inducted into the Australian Shearers’ Hall of Fame: “Ever since primary school I wanted to follow in my grandfather’s footsteps and become a shearer.” Living legend Ian Elkins will next month be inducted into the Australian Shearers’ Hall of Fame. Ian is well known in the shearing industry for his success in shearing competitions, training and promotional work. He began his career by attending a school for novice shearers run by the Australian Wool Corporation, which in an example of the value of industry investment in shearer training.