Australian Wool History
Author: Halcyon Dreams Team Date Posted:31 October 2017
What Makes Australian Wool So Good?
Australian wool is famous all over the world for its high quality, and rightly so. On the face of it, Australia would not seem a likely place for producing the world's best wool yet somehow, against the odds, we’ve managed to come out on top when it comes to the production of top quality wool.
At least some of the reason for the success of wool production in Australia can be attributed to another legend, the spirit of the "Aussie battler".
This is the same spirit that helped thousands of young men and boys brave the horrors of the killing fields at Gallipoli and the awful conditions of trench warfare on the Western Front.
It is what helps people when they are facing raging bushfires, catastrophic cyclones, and devastating floods. It is what helps bring communities together to rebuild after these tragic events, and it is what keeps farmers going during the frequent droughts that affect our country.
In short, we Australians persevere in the face of adversity, and are willing to work together for the greater good. It's a concept we call "mateship", and this is what has made Australia strong.
When it came to wool production, that strength of character and spirit was crucial in helping the fledgling industry get on its feet, and then go on to become a major Australian export industry that has stood the test of time for over 200 years.
The Australian wool industry got its start largely due to the ambitions of one man, John Macarthur, the former commandant of Parramatta.
Macarthur established a property called Elizabeth Farm and began experimenting with wool production. While these early experiments were modestly successful, the real change came with Macarthur's importation of merino sheep in 1797.
This was to be such a pivotal event it would eventually earn Macarthur and his merinos a place on the former two-dollar Australian currency bill, and various commemorative stamps.
Wool samples from what could rightfully be regarded as the first flock were taken back to England personally by Macarthur, and these samples created such a strong impression that he had no difficulty in obtaining a royal grant to build a larger sheep station in New South Wales.
The result was Camden Park, established on the most premium pastoral land discovered in Australia up to that time, which would undoubtedly have played a significant role in establishing the Australian merino as a provider of top quality wool.
The impact on Australian culture
Today the wool industry doesn't hold the same economic importance, but the nostalgic bond is still there, because this is an industry that has asserted such a strong influence on Australian culture.
Almost every Australian born before 1990 will have at least some memories of visiting sheep farming areas during their lifetime. The industry had a distinctive character, as did the personalities who were involved in it.
Many early Australian writers were influenced by the sheep farming industry, with its high wealth success stories and equally fascinating tales of harrowing defeats. Poets such as Banjo Patterson were inspired by it, and many colonial and federation era songs also made references to the industry, including Waltzing Matilda, Give Me A Home Among The Gum Trees, and Click Go The Shears.
This heavy influence on popular culture during Australia's formative years has rooted awareness of the importance of sheep farming to Australia's history upon the national psyche, to the extent that most Australians are as aware of it as they are of other elements of Australian history.
Australian wool today
The Australian tradition of producing the world's finest merino wool continues today, and while other industries such as mining, metals, and energy have made greater progress, the Australian wool industry is more productive than ever.
Merino wool from Australia is treasured for its softness and strength. Because the fibres are very strong and yet fine, materials manufactured from Australian merino wool are light in weight, super comfortable and are extremely durable.
The many uses for this versatile material are well known. It is used for everything from making business suits to car seat covers. The warmth and softness also make it ideal for making bedding underlays, duvets, and blankets.
When buying products made from wool, it is important to be sure you're getting genuine Australian wool products, and therefore the best quality and value.
Look for the Australian Made logo, and also the Woolmark logo, as these are your assurances of products that were made in Australia with Australian wool using the highest quality Woolmark certified wool. In both cases you are getting the best products and helping to support our Australian farmers and economy, which is a perfect combo!
Why buy local? Because the wool industry provides thousands of jobs to Australians and it is an important link to our national heritage. When you buy quality Australian made products, you make a huge contribution to keeping our local industry strong.
Look out for these logos below and you’ll be able to sleep well knowing that you’re getting the best of the best whilst supporting our local economy
The Halcyon Dreams Team