It’s that time of the year again! No, not the holiday season… mustering and shearing time at Gnaraloo! For the past few weeks, everyone around the station has been working hard to muster Gnaraloo’s sheep in readiness for their annual hair cut. Given that Gnaraloo spans an area of about 220,000 acres (approximately 90,000 ha) with remote outer corners and very rough terrain, this is easier said than done. We had the opportunity to become involved with the mustering activities in between our normal turtle duties.
There are a number of trap yards scattered around and throughout Gnaraloo Station with water points and troughs to attract stock and bring the sheep together in centralized locations from where they may be relocated. Once enough sheep have come together in a particular trap yard, the mustering teams funnel them into a narrow passage that lead up a ramp into a large truck. The sheep is then transported to the Holding Yards at the Homestead area where they remain until they are sheared by contractor shearing teams in the large Shearing Shed.
Since we don’t have any experience working with large mobs of sheep (1000+), there has been a steep learning curve to understand how sheep respond to our movements to get them to go where we needed them to go! We soon learned though what to do.
The contractor shearing teams began their work at Gnaraloo on 19 December 2011. For 3 days, we all pitched in to help to group the sheep in the Holding Yards, apply ear tags and dock tails. With the help of the shearers, we even tried to shear some sheep! It was a nice bonus after all our hard work. The shorn wool from the sheep is classed by a wool classer according to quality before being baled into 200kg bales of wool for sale.
It was a unique and exciting experience for all of us, and one we won’t forget soon. Thanks again to all the shearers for letting us help out!
Shout out to Hank, Dennis, Scotty, Skinny, Brooke, Jasmine, Brian, and Mitchell!
More pictures and video to come soon, Bobby