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A third-generation shearer, Cameron hails from bronzed, open country.
Reluctant at first to follow in the family footsteps, he went from roustabout to routinely
shearing 180 sheep a day, always keen to top his personal best (which stands at 313).
Life at times feels relentlessly busy. Cameron also works after hours on the family
farm where three generations live happily across the property.

A third-generation shearer, Cameron hails from bronzed, open country. Reluctant at first to follow in the family footsteps, he went from roustabout to routinely shearing 180 sheep a day, always keen to top his personal best (which stands at 313). Life at times feels relentlessly busy. Cameron also works after hours on the family farm where three generations live happily across the property.

Did you always think you’d be a shearer?
My father and uncles were shearers, but I originally didn’t have any interest. My dad died at the start of year 12. Then I deferred uni. In my gap year, I started working as a roustabout, which is the shed-hand side of the job – sweeping, sorting, picking up the wool. I was half on the family farm, half roustabouting. Then one of the guys said: come on, I’ll teach you how to shear. I started fulltime about eight or nine years ago, at 21. It really helps when you’re with good people in a team, and I think I’m in a pretty good one now with the guys and girls I work with.

Did you always think you’d be a shearer?
My father and uncles were shearers, but I originally didn’t have any interest. My dad died at the start of year 12. Then I deferred uni. In my gap year, I started working as a roustabout, which is the shed-hand side of the job – sweeping, sorting, picking up the wool. I was half on the family farm, half roustabouting. Then one of the guys said: come on, I’ll teach you how to shear. I started fulltime about eight or nine years ago, at 21. It really helps when you’re with good people in a team, and I think I’m in a pretty good one now with the guys and girls I work with.

Outside of shearing, you have your own property?
Everyone thought the family farm would get sold up when
Dad died. But Mum’s still there, and with my brother and
sister we’ve kept it going. It’s actually grown over the
past few years, so it went the opposite way. We mainly
produce fat lambs. Mum gives me a fair run on what to
try. I also meet other farmers while shearing. There are
some really smart guys out there managing some of the
bigger properties in the area.

The camaraderie and lifestyle seem to really suit you.
It does. And it’s a job you can take with you nearly
anywhere. Having my own family now and the farm
keeps me at home – but my cousin’s been working in
New Zealand this year, and he’s sheared in Scotland
too. There’s lots of opportunities even moving around
Victoria and NSW. No two sheep are the same. They’ll
shear differently from farm to farm, plus there’s different
breeds. The crossbreds are solid, but quick to shear. The
pure merinos are lighter with softer wool, but wrinklier in
the skin. They take longer but they’re nicer to handle.

It’s fast-paced work, is it tough too?
When you’re learning, it’s hard. It’s that first three
months of pain. And if you get through that, you’re
pretty right. Some sheep are heavier, so you’ll probably
go home a little sorer at the end of the day. The wool
comes off easier in the spring and summer when they’re
warmed up. Traditionally shearing was just the six
months of the year, but now it’s gone out to ten months
or more to fit in with harvests or sowing. It’s good work,
but it’s competitive too – when shearers peak, you don’t
want them bettering your time.

What does a day typically involve?
Most shearers arrive around 7.00 to get organised and
go till 5.15. One of the main things is maintenance:
you’ve got to care for the combs and cutters, keep your
kit washed and shiny, and the gear sharp. I’ve also just
started running teams, which is a bit more responsibility.
They call us gangers. Dealing with any problems and
making sure everything’s smooth and clicking, reporting
back to the boss every other night. Again, you’ve got to
have good people around to go forward.

Family seems a big part of the picture?
My parents had five years on the farm before all of us kids came along. Now I have a daughter who’s four, and another one on the way. I was living in Geelong but moved back to the farm when we bought another block a couple of years ago. My grandparents were also along the road, and my two uncles are on the same stretch too. So, we’re all in each other’s pockets.

Do you have downtime for other passions and pastimes?
Between the farm and shearing, not a lot. But we’re close to the beach, so we’ll go down to Lorne on weekends. And I love the footy in the winter, so I’ll make time for Geelong games with my brother. I’m also just about to head to Noosa with my family, which I’ve been hanging out for – it’s my first holiday in four years. Shearing itself is not a game you can do forever. But when you love what you do, including the farm and all, you’ll work hard at it.

Family seems a big part of the picture?
My parents had five years on the farm before all of us kids came along. Now I have a daughter who’s four, and another one on the way. I was living in Geelong but moved back to the farm when we bought another block a couple of years ago. My grandparents were also along the road, and my two uncles are on the same stretch too. So, we’re all in each other’s pockets.

Do you have downtime for other passions and pastimes?
Between the farm and shearing, not a lot. But we’re close to the beach, so we’ll go down to Lorne on weekends. And I love the footy in the winter, so I’ll
make time for Geelong games with my brother. I’m also just about to head to Noosa with my family, which I’ve been hanging out for – it’s my first holiday in four years. Shearing itself is not a game you can do forever. But when you love what you do, including the farm and all, you’ll work hard at it.

Many thanks to Cameron for allowing us to join him at work
at the Mt Hesse historic shearing shed. His Rossi’s look
the business and are comfortable to boot. Cameron recalls
that the older generation would get a lot of life from their
Shearer boots, and he’s sure that he will too.

Many thanks to Cameron for allowing us to join him at work at the Mt Hesse historic shearing shed. His Rossi’s look the business and are comfortable to boot. Cameron recalls that the older generation would get a lot of life from their Shearer boots, and he’s sure that he will too.

SHOP SHEARER BOOT

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February 9, 2024

Leader of the Pack

Leader of the Pack

Ryan Ackers was inspired to work with animals from the start, but it took a strong connection with man’s best friend to make the switch from the world of business to the fields of Winchelsea, where he is responsible for overseeing the rearing and shepherding of sheep and cattle as a livestock manager. Also an experienced bull handler and passionate dog trainer, today Ryan is happiest doing what he feels he was meant to do all along.

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