I used to be indecisive…

…but now I'm not so sure

Australian sheep farming in the 1960s


In response to Northern Narratives’  and The Eternal Traveller’s comments after my post about my long lost school geography book, here are a few excerpts from the chapter on sheep farming.

On a Sheep Farm in Australia – the Land of the Kangaroo (with illustrations from the book)

(This chapter starts with quite a long section about how Australia is on the other side of the world, and about the natives [rather ugly with dark skin], boomerangs [the strangest weapon] and kangaroos [which could easily kill you with their tail], before we get on to the bit about sheep farming!)

… Today there are more white people in Australia than there are black people.

… Some of these white men live on the wide grasslands, where very few trees can grow.  Their work is looking after sheep.  On these grasslands today, thousands and thousands of sheep roam, while feeding on the short grass.  Perhaps at some time you have had, for your dinner, a piece of mutton from one of these sheep.  Also, I expect that your coat was made from the wool of some of them.

On a sheep farm the busiest time of the year is shearing time.  Then many bleats and baas are heard as the sheep lose their thick, woolly coats, and shiver in the Spring air.  Poor little baa-lambs!  How cold they must feel!  But another nice woolly coat soon grows.

… On some of these large sheep-farms the wool is cut off with hand shears.  But on most farms they men use electric shears, which do the work much more quickly. 

” … Most of the sheep farmers live in a very comfortable house made of wood. There is plenty of work for the women and the elder girls.  As the boys grow older, they work with father, and are often out all day with the sheep, just as he is.  Sometimes the men and older boys are away from home many days.  This always happens when they go to market, for they have to travel many miles on horseback before they get there.

… The life on these large sheep farms is a very lonely one for the grown ups, as the next house is often fifty miles away.  But the boys and girls enjoy themselves very much.  They live a healthy, open air life, and do not often go to school as the nearest one is such a long way away.  Their parents teach them to read and write when the day’s work is done.  But when they can go to school, they always go on their young ponies, which are placed in the school stables until the end of the day.”

So, there you are – you are all experts on sheep farming now!  I wonder if it has changed much in the last 50 years?  🙂


6 thoughts on “Australian sheep farming in the 1960s

  1. How times change! I’d like to go to school on a pony.

  2. Wow, thank you very much. I never thought of the bommerang as a weapon! I always thought it was a toy 🙂

  3. Well, I’m actually lost for words! Northern Narratives, the boomerang is a very effective hunting weapon when used properly, but it takes a lot of skill to make it return to the thrower. As for the story, how amazing to read this. In today’s context this is so very politically incorrect. but I guess it was the norm when this was written. As far as schooling goes, farm children often rode their horses to school. If they weren’t able to attend a school because of distance they used a program called “School of the Air” which was delivered by two way radio and through the mail. These days it’s called “The School of Distance Education” and is accessed online. The children attend a virtual classroom and can see and speak with their teachers. Remember that we’re talking about distances here of hundreds of kilometres between towns in the outback. Ha! I wasn’t as lost for words as I thought!

  4. Pingback: A Shearing Machine? | bentexindlmanufacturers

  5. Pingback: That was the blogging year that was | I used to be indecisive...

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