Shearing sheds are a quintessential part of Australian culture. From their immortalisation in classic artwork, poetry and folk music, to the practical role they continue to play in Australia’s wool industry today, farm sheds are a part of our national identity.
Here are just some of the reasons we love shearing sheds – and why you should, too.
1. They’re the heart of our wool industry
Few would argue the fact that Australia produces some of the best wool fibre in the world. Who doesn’t love a soft Merino wool jumper or scarf? Although our sheep may be reared outdoors, it’s in the dusty rural sheds at shearing time that the magic happens. Jokes abound, everyone’s working seamlessly together from the shearers to the rousies to the wool classers, and there’s the distinctive smell of lanolin in the air. It doesn’t get much more Aussie than that.
2. They reflect the local culture
A shed is a shed, you say? Not so. In fact, different regions of Australia boast their own unique shearing shed architecture. You can even see how sheds have changed through the years. Even so, the humble farm shed remains so beloved that some people go so far as to design homes that resemble a classic shearing shed!
3. They’ve inspired art, poetry and music
If you’ve visited a rural pub, you’ve seen a print of the 1890 Tom Roberts painting Shearing the Rams – or if you’ve stopped by the National Gallery of Victoria, you’ve seen it firsthand. An Aussie icon, it’s considered a definitive representation of Australian identity.
Shearing sheds have also given us the classic folk song Click Goes the Shears, which harks back to the late 19th Century. Even if you’ve never set foot in a rural shed, you know this song: it’s virtually in our blood. You might not know that it’s set to the tune of a US Civil War tune – but we think our version’s better! The bush poets also loved to celebrate the shearing shed, from Henry Lawson’s When the Ladies Come to the Shearing Shed to Banjo Paterson’s Shearing at Castlereagh.