Tag Archives: Merino Wool

Cockys Drovers Shearers and Hard Yakka

The Cocky or the boss on a sheep station, the shearers and hard work or hard Yakker in the shearing shed. The kelpies the working dogs of the Australian sheep stations, backing dogs that only need a quick command in order to  know exactly where the drover wants the mob to go. Drovers and Cockies will tell you that a dog is worth two men. Australia still rides home on the sheep’s back producing over one third of the world’s wool and the finest micron level from  Merino Sheep. I have had the fortune to spend some time in Condobolin, roughly the  centre of New South Wales (NSW). An Uncle was the Cocky at a sheep station called Rosalind close to Condobolin.

Condobolin believed to have evolved from the aboriginal word Cundabullen (Shallow Crossing). explored in 1817 and established by 1844. Close to Condobolin is the ‘Overflow Station’ the setting of the poem ‘Clancy of the Overflow’. by the creator of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and the Man from Snowy River – Banjo Paterson. ‘Clancy of the Overflow’ part of an Australian’s schooling.

Drovers
The Drover and the Cocky – Image Shane A

Banjo Paterson

Andrew Barton “Banjo’ Paterson (1864-1941). Poet, ballad writer, journalist and horseman.

‘Banjo’ Paterson, known as Barty to his family, was born Andrew Barton Paterson at Narrambla, near Orange on 17 February 1864. His parents, Andrew Bogle and Rose Isabella Paterson were graziers or Cockys on Illalong station in the Yass district. Some say Yass is the finest wool grazing in the world, certainly in Australia for the Merino sheep. 

Paterson’s early education took place at home under a governess and then at the bush school in Binalong, the nearest township. From about the age of ten years he attended the Sydney Grammar School. He lived with his grandmother in Gladesville and spent the school holidays at Illalong station with his family.

After completing school the 16-year-old Paterson was articled to a Sydney firm of solicitors, Spain and Salway. He was admitted as a solicitor in 1886 and formed the legal partnership, Street and Paterson. During these years Paterson began publishing verse in the Bulletin and Sydney Mail under the pseudonyms ‘B’ and ‘The Banjo’.

In 1895, at the age of 31 and still in partnership with Street, Andrew Barton Paterson achieved two milestones in Australian writing. He composed his now famous ballad ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and his first book, The Man from Snowy River, and other verses, was published by Angus & Robertson, marking the beginning of an epoch in Australian publishing. This hallmark publication sold out its first edition within a week and went through four editions in six months, making Paterson second only to Kipling in popularity among living poets writing in English. His poetry continues to sell well today and is available in many editions, some of which are illustrated.

*Biography courtesy of the Reserve Bank of Australia

Shearer-3-BW
More hard yakka – Image Shane A
H-_EXHIBITION-3-12-2015_Sheep-23-1-2016_Smoko
Smoko Image Shane A

Clancy of the Overflow – Banjo Paterson

I had written him a letter which I had, for want of better
Knowledge, sent to where I met him down the Lachlan, years ago,
He was shearing when I knew him, so I sent the letter to him,
Just ‘on spec’, addressed as follows, ‘Clancy, of The Overflow’.

And an answer came directed in a writing unexpected,
(And I think the same was written with a thumb-nail dipped in tar)
‘Twas his shearing mate who wrote it, and verbatim I will quote it:
‘Clancy’s gone to Queensland droving, and we don’t know where he are.’

In my wild erratic fancy visions come to me of Clancy
Gone a-droving ‘down the Cooper’ where the Western drovers go;
As the stock are slowly stringing, Clancy rides behind them singing,
For the drover’s life has pleasures that the townsfolk never know.

And the bush hath friends to meet him, and their kindly voices greet him
In the murmur of the breezes and the river on its bars,
And he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended,
And at night the wond’rous glory of the everlasting stars.

I am sitting in my dingy little office, where a stingy
Ray of sunlight struggles feebly down between the houses tall,
And the foetid air and gritty of the dusty, dirty city
Through the open window floating, spreads its foulness over all.

And in place of lowing cattle, I can hear the fiendish rattle
Of the tramways and the buses making hurry down the street,
And the language uninviting of the gutter children fighting,
Comes fitfully and faintly through the ceaseless tramp of feet.

And the hurrying people daunt me, and their pallid faces haunt me
As they shoulder one another in their rush and nervous haste,
With their eager eyes and greedy, and their stunted forms and weedy,
For townsfolk have no time to grow, they have no time to waste.

And I somehow rather fancy that I’d like to change with Clancy,
Like to take a turn at droving where the seasons come and go,
While he faced the round eternal of the cash-book and the journal —
But I doubt he’d suit the office, Clancy, of ‘The Overflow’.

Banjo Paterson

Droving Shearing, hard yakka

Portrait-of-a-Shearer-P
Portrait of a Shearer – image Shane A
Another-Portrait-of-a-Shearer
Another Portrait of a Shearer – image Shane A
The-Jump-BW
The Jump a Kelpie hard yakka – Image Shane A
Drover
Droving with Backing Dog – Image Shane A
Shearer-1-BW
Hard yakka – image Shane A
Shearer-2-BW
More hard yakka – image Shane A

 

Condobolin
Sheep country Indian Pacific Railway Trans-continent at Condobolin – image Shane A

Images: Photographer Shane Aurousseau

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Australia traveling in the last frontier

Australia,  the 11th wealthiest country in the world with a debt ratio to GDP of 31% far lower than the UK’s is underpopulated and lacks a cohesive tourist marketing plan Australia is a country of global interest that receives only 5 million tourists per year and many of those must be Chinese families visiting the growing Chinese diaspora living in the country .

Australia a vast country that Europe can fit into
Australia a vast country that Europe can fit into
Australian Galah a diversified wildlife image Shane Aurousseau
Australian Galah a diversified wildlife image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Eagles Nest Image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Eagles Nest Image Shane Aurousseau

A country of such vastness that all of Europe can fit into it has so much to offer in the way of wildlife, Art, History especially relating to the 1800s. The aboriginal community  a historic longevity that few countries can offer, a continuous and cohesive society lasting longer than the ancient Egyptians and possibly the Chinese that can be traced back 50,000 years.

Aboriginal Roadside Art Broken Hill NSW - image Shane Aurousseau
Aboriginal Roadside Art Broken Hill NSW – image Shane Aurousseau

A historic social and artistic infrastructure that many races should envy.

Australian Icon Sydney Opera House Image Shane Aurousseau
Australian Icon Sydney Opera House Image Shane Aurousseau

Most marketing of Australia is aimed in a limited way at the English speaking world and tends to promote mainly beaches and the common knowledge icons, Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge Uluru /Ayers Rock warm beaches and the Barrier Reef.

Merino Wool the worlds finest - image Shane Aurousseau
Merino Wool the worlds finest – image Shane Aurousseau

There is however much more to Australia and current promotion does not illustrate the tremendous variations that this great country has to offer, the desert, the commodity industry, a country that supplies one third of the world’s wool,

Merino wool the finest micron - Image Shane Aurousseau
Merino wool the finest micron – Image Shane Aurousseau

Merino the finest micron wool in the world, the real history of the  Aboriginal people.

Contemporary desert art from the Aboriginal community Broken Hill NSW image Shane Aurousseau
Contemporary desert art from the Aboriginal community Broken Hill NSW image Shane Aurousseau

Promotion tends to give a potted history of the Aboriginal never with the depth that illustrates the the evolution of these

Contemporary Aboriginal desert art Broken Hill NSW - Image Shane Aurousseau
Contemporary Aboriginal desert art Broken Hill NSW – Image Shane Aurousseau

accomplished people through the ages, the great literature that they have illuminated through storytelling, art and music.   The cost of getting to Australia as a tourist from Europe can be high and once there travel around this vast country is not made easy for the visitor.Canberra the national capital has a long train trip to Sydney, Canberra to Dubbo (a major central NSW city) can only be accessed by car or bus. The bus only operating on Saturday and travelling to Dubbo via dozens of small towns. Car hire is expensive and usually carries anything up to a $5000 excess, insuring this excess can also be expensive. There seems to be a paranoia within the rental car industry that the car will be damaged or not returned. Also the cost can rise if the car is taken from one state to another. Such costs need to be looked at more closely.

Australia Outback roads many corrugated image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Outback roads many corrugated image Shane Aurousseau

There is of course the problem of many dirt roads a majority corrugated in the Outback not a plus for car suspensions unless . This does present a problem for rental car companies however there still needs to be a more tourist friendly rental structure. Australia has many rail arteries most now closed due to the lack of usage,When I traveled from the shores of my home country the first time there were only 9 to 10 million inhabitants, today that has increased to 24 million.  This vast country could support many more. Controlled population growth brings many benefits, it increases the market size thus giving real reason for manufactures to exist as they have both  export and home market. Australia lacks diversification and is dependent upon the commodities industry and the market fluctuations of pricing within that industry.

Gem Seeker's paradise Lightning Ridge NSW - image Shane Aurousseau
Gem Seeker’s paradise Lightning Ridge NSW – image Shane Aurousseau

The Aussie Dollar is a commodity driven currency.

Opal mining Lightning Ridge NSW Image Shane Aurousseau
Opal mining Lightning Ridge NSW
Image Shane Aurousseau
Australia the last Iconic Holden RIP Image Shane Aurousseau
Australia the last Iconic Holden RIP Image Shane Aurousseau

Car manufacturers have mostly pulled out of Australia even the iconic Holden is now manufactured overseas. Most business people will tell you that diversification is important in any business strategy if helps to flatten out the market controlling fluctuations.

Australia Mack Road Train image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Mack Road Train image Shane Aurousseau

Goods in Australia tend to move around by truck Road Train this is expensive and  lowers the volume of product that can be moved quickly from manufacturer to consumer.

Australia Condobolin NSW Indian Pacific Railway a vast land image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Condobolin NSW Indian Pacific Railway a vast land image Shane Aurousseau
Australia Silverton NSW Broken Hill Tramway Company
Australia Silverton NSW Broken Hill Tramway Company

Many of the railway lines carefully constructed from the  early 1900’s have been closed. The development of the interior has been neglected for  lack of water yet 23% of the country is covered by one of the world’s great sweet water caches the Artesian Basin to this day greatly underutilized and still the 3 to 4 year droughts cause consternation or should I say constipation. Stretching from Cape York in the north, down to Dubbo and across to Coober Pedy, the Great Artesian Basin covers almost a quarter of the Australian continent, and contains enough water to cover the world over. Much remains to be known about this valuable resource that has enabled life in inland Australian to develop over thousands of years.

Australia the Great Artesian Basin covers a third of the country
Australia the Great Artesian Basin covers a third of the country

Look at the irrigated development of Israel and no Artesian Basin. The Darling Murray river system is being plundered without thought. Great rivers that once were busy arteries carrying paddle steamers transporting goods and passengers would be lucky to see a canoe.. Mines are closing even Broken Hill the beginning of Australia’s largest company Broken Hill Pty Ltd a region of more variation in differing  mineral deposits than any other place on earth seems to be scaling back.

By 2050 the population is expected to reach 42 million. The infrastructure to cope with this increase needs to be kick started as soon as possible. I think that I pointed out in a previous blog that if Woolworth and Cole’s had waited until their current 18 million supermarket customers had  been lined up in front of the first plot for the first complex they would never have reached the market saturation levels they have reached today. When reading papers on population growth and how the terrain can support the projected numbers what I find missing is projected figures based on future investment and development most papers only discuss the here and now, Australia needs some serous modeling put into place, such a vast country is a blank sheet of paper and possibly the world’s real last frontier.

Dunny by Howard Steer Silverton NSW good Australian Humour Image Shane Aurousseau
Dunny by Howard Steer Silverton NSW good Australian Humour Image Shane Aurousseau

Images Photographer Shane Aurousseau

The working dogs of Australia

The agile Kelpie
The agile Kelpie

I recently had the privilege of photographing and filming Kelpies working with Merino sheep the invitation came from Peter and Terrie L’Estrange, they are the owners of a station on the outskirts of Condobolin Central NSW called Belswick Merino  Stud. I believe they have around 7000 acres running  mainly Merino sheep including prize animals that are regularly shown at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney .

Australia NSW Condobolin Prize Merino sheep Belswick Merino Stud Peter &Terrie L'Estrange
Australia NSW Condobolin Prize Merino sheep Belswick Merino Stud Peter &Terrie L’Estrange

The Merino is of course the sheep that gave Australia its place in history as the leading wool producing country in the world. Wool production of Australia accounts for approximately 30% of world production.The Merino originally from central Spain (Castille). Its wool was highly valued even in the Middle Ages.

Fine Micron Merino Wool Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW
Fine Micron Merino Wool Belswick Merino Stud Condobolin NSW

The fine micron quality of Merino wool  gives this commodity its reputation as the highest quality of all wools.

Merino sheep introduced into Australia from Spain  in the late 1700s and developed by Captain Macarthur in the early 1800s into the valuable commodity it has now become for Australia. The production of Merino wool adds some Aust $2 billion annually to the Australian GDP. From the 1800s it was generally accepted that Australia rides home on the Merino’s back. The droving and organising of the sheep has always been a hands on exercise however those hands do have assistants – the Kelpies.

Although different breeds of dogs work with sheep it is generally Kelpies that the the Australian stations use. These dogs tend to have great personalities and have an inbred desire to work and to organise.

Working with Kelpies
Working with Kelpies

The Kelpie tends to be a one man dog and is great with children if brought up in an environment with them. A good working dog is prized and can change hands for anything up to $30,000 Australian Dollars and as one station owner pointed out is worth 2 men. Watching the two drovers working with the dogs moving some 100  sheep around was an incredible experience. The handlers shouted orders to the dogs more or less indicating to them where they wanted the sheep to be directed. The dogs quickly respond to  signals even to a glance. To see a sheep cut from the group and the speed of the dogs forcing the sheep to rejoin its mates gives  an insight into how intelligent these animals are.

The agile Australian Kelpie
The agile Australian Kelpie

The-sheep-and-the-Cockees-(50-of-172)

The Australian Kelpie is the most popular of working dogs and their agility gives them the ability to move around tightly packed sheep, see the dog in the photograph clearing the sheep by jumping them. They are workaholics easily trained herding is in their nature.

The agile Australian Kelpie
The agile Australian Kelpie
The reward hosing after hot work
The reward hosing after hot work

The workaholic nature and energy of this breed can be demonstrated by the image of the Station hand hosing the dogs down following an intensive working session.  The dogs actually seek  the cooling hosing when work is finished.

 

Boredom is the Kelpie’s worst enemy they are working  dogs.

When travelling in  Peter  L’Estrange’s  4×4 one of the dogs Lucy sat between us. This particular dog is as pointed out the house dog  and rarely leaves Peter’s side however she still needs to  work and knows when he is preparing to move the sheep and more or less demands participation. She can be seen travelling on the back of Peter’s quad bike waiting for one of the flock to make a false move.

One man dog Lucy on quad bike with Peter L'Estrange
One man dog Lucy on quad bike with Peter L’Estrange
The Kelpie
The Kelpie
Peter L'Estrange
Peter L’Estrange
Terrie L'Estrange
Terrie L’Estrange

Photographer: Shane Aurousseau