Photos: Wendy McDougall 

What inspired you to start sheep shearing, and how did you get involved in this activity? 

Growing up on a sheep farm, shearing time was always my favourite time of year as I could work with good people, work dogs and sheep. This inspired me to want to take up shearing. 

Can you walk us through a typical day or routine when you’re shearing sheep? 

A typical day usually means getting up at 5.00–5.30 am to get your gear and dogs ready to be at the shed for a 7.30 start. The first run goes from 7.30 to 9.30 am, then a half hour smoko. The second run goes from 10 am to 12 noon, then an hour’s lunch break. The third run goes from 1 to 3 pm, followed by the fourth run from 3.30 to 5 pm. Depending on the type of sheep, a good shearer will do around 40 to 60 sheep per run. 

Do you have any memorable experiences or stories from your time shearing sheep that you’d like to share? 

At one shed where I was working recently, Snowy Hydro was there doing some tree planting. They were all gathered around their tent doing a safety talk about how they are not allowed to climb fences because of the WHS risks. As the people were getting their safety briefing, the ten-year-old son of one of the managers of the properties drove past them in a bobcat, much to their dismay. This little fella continued to drive around them before going and moving some dirt around for fun. After a while he got sick of that and went home to get the ride-on lawn mower and continued driving past them again before hopping on his motorbike and flying up the paddock. This was a great example of how country kids live their best life despite all the safety and WHS briefings.  

Do you have any plans to continue pursuing sheep shearing in the future, and how do you see it fitting into your broader goals or aspirations? 

Once I am out of school, the plan is to go shearing full time for five to ten years. Shearing for this long will set up my future, as there is good money in it if you are willing to put in the hard yards. My long-term aim is to manage bigger properties and breed more work dogs.  

Do you have any advice for other students who wish to get involved in sheep shearing?  

Going to the AWI (Australian Wool Innovation) shearing schools is what got me into it. The people that run the shearing schools are really welcoming to new people as they are always looking for more young people to get into the industry. The shearing schools teach you the different techniques you need to shear a sheep, how to load a handpiece, how to grind your combs and cutters, as well as picking up, throwing and skirting a fleece and pressing the wool into bales to go to the wool broker.