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Beyond the Bale : December 2016
Fleeces on display at the Yilgarn Show in WA. The winning fleece of R & J Panizza Partnership from Marvel Loch. WOOL A STAR WITHIN SOUTHERN CROSS When AWI was invited to attend the 60th Yilgarn show at Southern Cross recently, they found in the heart of the Central wheatbelt of WA a wool competition that rivals that of any wool-growing district. The Western Australian wheatbelt has had its fair share of ups and downs in recent years given the region’s reliance on grain, but for many, wool has been a stable feature of their business. This was the common story heard by AWI director David Webster and wool trade consultant Scott Carmody when they visited Southern Cross to judge the Yilgarn Show fleece competition earlier this year. Scott and David judged the 85 fleeces on display at the show, entered in 16 classes by local woolgrowers and the passion for growing wool in a region so dominated by grain production was evident not only in the quality of entries but in the many conversations they had on the day. “It was wonderful to be invited to judge the show. A lot of the local farmers mentioned how if they didn’t have sheep, they would have had to walk off the farm years ago. Many of the farmers who were sadly no longer in the district didn’t have an annual wool cheque as a safety net. Unfortunately, putting all their eggs in the one cropping basket was their downfall,” Scott said. wheat, canola, barley and oats and goldmines. Southern Cross is the major town centre of the Shire of Yilgarn and is 370km east of Perth along the Great Eastern Highway. The seed for lifting the profile of the wool section of the Yilgarn show came about with a chance meeting head organiser and Southern Cross local George Irving had with AWI director Mr David Webster at the Wagin Woolarama earlier in the year. The local Southern Cross area wool-growing community expressed concerns over the lack of knowledge of their local farming community about the benefits of running a few wool sheep as an additional source of income, especially in times of crop failure. This year could not be more applicable as George reports of widespread frost damage and very low grain prices impacting heavily on the WA harvest and hence the land holders’ income and viability. Mr Irving said, "David Webster seemed really keen to get involved, so later on I rang AWI head office in Sydney and talked to them and they agreed to supply wool judges David Webster and Scott Carmody. I was really pleased to have AWI support us like that.” Overall winners with most points across all fleece classes were: • 1st prize went to R & J Panizza Partnership of father Bob and son James, from Marvel Loch. • 2nd on overall points was Sanman Nominees of Robert and Tony Dal Busco, from Southern Cross. • A first time entry from the Birtles family, from Bodallin, won Champion Ewe Fleece. The heart of the Central Wheatbelt of WA is hardly the place you would expect to find a wool competition to rival that of any dedicated wool-growing district. The Shire of Yilgarn is 30,720 square km in area and has a population of approximately 1,600. Yilgarn is known by many as the Gateway to the Wheatbelt and the Goldfields and more readily identified with vast areas of crops of 38 ON FARM
In the Shops - March 2017