As he notched up 180 or so sheep on the boards in 42C heat in a shearing shed at Victor Harbor last Wednesday, Jamestown shearer Beau Growden had his mind firmly set on the job at hand.
But by next week, the 22-year-old’s skills will be on the big stage as he heads off to the National Shearing Championships in Dubbo to compete in the senior class of the Sports Shear Australia event.
Joining him will be his fellow shearing team member Paige Box, also from Jamestown, competing in the novice wool handling division, along with young hometown shearers, 16-year-old Jamestown Community School students Joseph Jacka and Ben Clark, in the novice class, and Jamestown-based shearers Sam Bacon and Chris Lang.
Beau said he was thrilled to see a large contingent from Jamestown competing in the championships alongside him, in what will be his first national competition having won his way through by notching up three local show wins.
“It’s fantastic to see them all involved,” he said.
“And to see these young shearers like Joseph and Ben coming through is awesome. I’ve grown up with Joe and he’s a machine in the shearing shed.
“It’s really good to see them having a go, there’s definitely less shearers in the industry now but with the shearing schools through TAFE now running, and the big new shearing and wool education shed in Jamestown (Regional Shearing, Wool Pavilion and Sheep Industry Education Centre) it’s definitely gaining a bit more momentum.
“We’re beginning to see a lot of young shearers and new faces into the industry.”
For young Joe Jacka, at just 16-years-old, his sights are already firmly set on a career combining shearing and farming on his family’s Jamestown property.
“I’ve worked with sheep all my life and I went to sheds with dad shearing at a young age, I always wanted to get involved in shearing,” he said.
“When it’s shearing time at home, we would go over at night time when the shearers would leave and shear a few and the same in the morning.
“As yet I haven’t done a full day of shearing, but have done a few three-quarter days helping out Daryl Growden one of our shearers, I have also shorn a few of part days of our own sheep. My goal eventually is to shear at least 400 in a day”.
Beau Growden too has shearing in his blood.
Alongside him as he travels to shearing sheds throughout South Australia and New South Wales, is dad, Daryl who has been showing Beau the ropes since he was only a lad.
For Beau, it is an industry offering opportunities, and come January he will pack his hand piece and head to New Zealand for a two-month shearing stint.
It is hard work, and for 10 months of the year Beau’s shearing team travels the sheds, often in basic conditions, but he would not change his career for the world.
“It’s challenging, there’s nothing easy about shearing, so when you see some success through competitions like Sports Shear it is rewarding,” he said.
“Shearing is backbreaking work, often in the middle of nowhere, but the places we go, the people we meet all make for an awesome lifestyle.”