Shearing a family bond

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman

Wool shearing folklore will be the centrepiece of the Wegner family's historical records for some time to come.

Four out of six of the Nungarin pack, which includes a son living in New South Wales, are fully fledged and bona fide shearers.

Todd and Jilly Wegner, who met at a shearing competition at the 1998 Wagin Woolorama, would not have it any other way.

"Our youngest - Joe, eight months, and Henry, at six years of age - will most likely learn to shear before they consider the alternatives," Jilly said. "If anything, shearing has taught our older boys, Beau and Rocky, both from Todd's first marriage, important work ethics we should all strive to achieve."

Todd said he believed many of today's younger people were frightened of hard work.

"Jilly knows more than most about taking on the challenges of a career in the wool shed," he said.

Born on a cattle farm in Clarence Town, NSW, Jilly was introduced to wool handling at 18 when she attended agricultural college in Queensland.

"Straight away I liked the atmosphere of the shearing shed but it was a male dominated industry," she said.

"The physical and mental challenges appealed to me, so I stuck with it and began competing."

All the Wegners are regulars on the competition circuit and all four attended the 2011 IGA Perth Royal Show's National Shearing Championships.

Beau finished in top form winning the under 21 final.

"After doing well at shows, we take more pride in our regular jobs," he said.

The farm worker said he expected to return to full-time shearing after recovering from a recent injury.

After a 32-year shearing career, Todd, 48, retired in February to take up a position with Heiniger.

Son Rocky also works for the shearing supply company in NSW.

Come time for a family reunion around the dinner table, most of the talk is about shearing.

"We have sheep and shearing on the brain," Jilly said.

She said there was strong support from each family member.

"We work as a team and I know the next competition will recharge our enthusiasm."

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