The first shearing on our property took place in 1894, when the merino’s that had been overlanded from another of our properties near Inverell, in northern NSW were shorn. This photograph shows that first blade shearing.





Originally a small black and white picture, it was enlarged and tinted with colour many years ago, while more recently another copy was made, enlarged and printed onto canvas.

The small boy sitting on the wool bale is my grandfather, Frederick John. Beside him stands my great-grandfather, also Frederick John. Next to him are two of my great-grandfather’s brothers, while a close friend joins them in the shearing with another man.

The picture intrigues me. Not least for the early blade shearing technique it shows.

Blade shears consist of two blades arranged similarly to scissor except that the hinge is at the end farthest from the point (not in the middle). The cutting edges pass each other as the shearer squeezes them together and shear the wool close to the animal’s skin.




The bark hut, the clothes, pipes and beards really take me back to another world, another time and place. And then of course there is that wonderful dog in the foreground.

Shearing the rams (below), a painting by Australian painter Tom Roberts is considered to be iconic of the livestock-growing culture or “life on the land” in Australia. As someone very kindly said to me recently, this is my family’s Tom Roberts.