Australian Sheep and Wool Show 2015

July 17, 2015

It is Wool Show time again. The Australian Sheep and Wool Show is a big shebang in these parts and runs over three days. It has been run annually since 1877!

The Wool Show is a place were you can see all kinds of sheep including Merino, Polwarth, Corridale, Poll Dorset, Dorper, White Suffolk, Dorset Downs, Romney, Drysdale, Dorset Horn, Hampshire Downs, Ryeland, Perendale, East Friesian, Shropshire, Border Leicester, English Leicester, Cheviot and Finnsheep.  You can watch the judging of these sheep and actually talk to the farmers who raised them.

You can mostly tell the farmers by their pale moleskins, navy polarfleeces and polished tan elastic-sided boots. Men and women turned out handsomely for this special weekend. There is a Sunday best vibe at the Show. The felters wear their most flamboyant creations and the knitters, their best shawls, hats and jumpers. The fibrecrafters all look at each other’s garments and walk up to complete strangers to compliment them. There is a kind and joyful frisson in the air.

IMG_3564There are carving and cooking demonstrations where you may partake of the meaty things. You can see gun shearers effortlessly reclining enormous sheep and clipping their fleece in a couple of minutes with nary a nick or a twitch. This is not just for show either, this is for the Sports Shearing and Wool Handling Competition. The shearing shed is always packed and tense, the air is heavy with the smell of fleece and warm tomato sauce.

IMG_3542The Australian Fleece Competition also takes place during the show. I love seeing the open bags of crimpy locks topped with a ribbon. Rams with woolly testicles the size of melons are gathered together for the Ram Sale and bright eyed, hard staring dogs lean quivering into the Sheep Dog trials, ears rotating like radars.

There are vast sheds filled with everything from dried lemon myrtle to hand shaped metal alpaca biscuit cutters to olive oil soap. Then of course there are the Woolcraft sheds housing various spinning guilds, felting and weaving demonstrations, the Woolcraft Competition and yarn and fibre sellers.

IMG_3557The Wool Show is the place to buy yarn or fibre from a person who actually raised the sheep, perhaps helped to birth it and certainly dealt with its health and feeding.  They see the fleece shorn, sent off for scouring and spinning and they have probably done the skeining.  These farmers persevere against the odds to bring low-processed, breed-specific yarns and fibres into the marketplace. So do support them with your patronage.

Although I did manage to get some entries in for the Woolcraft competition, I am not able to attend the actual show days this year. So tell me about your visit, if you managed to get there. I would also be keen to hear about Wool Shows in other countries. Are they similar or different to this one?

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  1. went today, a rather cool day, as is the won’t. after all, this is bendigo in mid-winter.
    as always, plenty of sheep, especially merino so, though white sussex are the featured breed this year.
    i didn’t realise until too late that jenny kee would be featured at the women in wool luncheon. i’ve followed her career since her 70’s flamingo park days. ????
    managed not to get too carried away by retail therapy and was especially pleased some new-to-me dyeing strategies – mr cfh will have new socks soon.
    as expected, a great day, and well organised

  2. I am so sorry you won’t be able to attend. I was hoping you would meet Nan Bray from White Gum Wools. NEXT year 🙂 Gun shearers and pale moleskins…looked them up I did! More expanding of my AU vocabulary !!

  3. Your description of the Wool & Sheep Show makes me want to jump ship and fly there immediately! The excitement of breed specific yarn available to see and touch may well be too much for me to handle…. I would love to read other people’s comments on this year’s show…. What a pity that you cannot attend this year???

  4. I’m so intrigued that the Australian major sheep show is in the winter! In the UK, we are also in show time – last week was the Great Yorkshire show, and I am heading to the Border Union Show next weekend. The BUS in the beautiful Scottish Borders is a tiny little show compared to these other great shows, but it still has all the attributes you describe so well above, Rebecca – basically a feeling of wellness and get-together from the farming community. (No famous folk like Jenny Kee, alas :-(( )
    I vaguely think showtime in the UK extends from late spring (the Devon County show is in late May, our early spring) to the autumn shows – there’s a sheep show hereabouts (but I can’t remember exactly where) that takes place in October. All this is timed to enjoy the season of fruition – and shearing. So, I’m very intrigued – and worried – that your poor sheep are shorn midwinter! Please help me out!

  5. Sounds like a great time. In the US we have several sheep and wool events like you mentioned, and your descriptions sounds pretty darn close to a description from one of ours!

  6. This sounds like a glorious event, one that I would have enjoyed immensely. In the US there are many excellent wool shows. Up here in the Pacific Northwest there are several to choose from. I attended Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon, last month. In September I will go to Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby, Oregon.

  7. Thank you for taking us to the show through your wonderful descriptions! I can smell that wooly fleece and warm tomato sauce smell. I know we’re in for a treat when you share your entries.

  8. Every year i am going and every year i am sick for this weekend. I love your description and everyone else’s. One year i will get there……………..

  9. Dear Rebecca, reading your posts is like reading a good classic book… You are a magician of words! I always leave your posts for the quiet moments when I can get a cup of tea, put some music on and dive into your blog! Thank you! As for the wool shows – this is my dream to attend one some day!

  10. i didn’t make it this year either, but have followed along with others from Instagram – it looked like great weather and a good time had by all!

  11. We have county shows here, some large some small, local shows and then there are the wool shows, but your show sounds like a mix of them all and from a knitter’s point of view altogether better.

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