Comment: Annual Woolorama defines Wagin

Peter RundleCountryman
The Wagin community knew they had to work together to start an event which would change with the times, writes Peter Rundle.
Camera IconThe Wagin community knew they had to work together to start an event which would change with the times, writes Peter Rundle. Credit: Astrid Volzke/Countryman

There is something unique about Wagin.

With a population of just 1800 people, it is a town that has maintained an agricultural show for 117 years, morphing into the Wagin Woolorama — which is now in its 48th year.

The Wagin community knew they had to work together to start an event which would change with the times and stay relevant to different demographics.

While agricultural shows on similar scales were on the way out, Wagin saw the opportunities available and worked to make a new and vibrant event happen.

I doubt anyone would have foreseen 48 years ago the significance of what the Woolorama represents to our agricultural sector and the impact it has had on our farmers, manufacturers and industry partners.

The Woolorama is considered to be the premier sheep show in WA.

Through those 48 years, producers of sheep and wool have spent many a sleepless night wondering about their flocks, including whether they should keep them or go 100 per cent cropping.

The years of negative returns on wool were devastating, and it was no surprise that farmers turned away from this commodity.

Peter Rundle.
Camera IconPeter Rundle.

The Woolorama team have kept sheep production in clear focus throughout those hard times, and never wavered in its faith in the product which our farmers produce with years of experience in breeding and marketing.

To see how the sheep industry has turned around is exciting.

The mood is lighter for sheep producers who steadfastly maintained their flocks and are now reaping the rewards.

The new generation of farmers are being encouraged by this positive outlook and are now looking at agriculture as an option with massive leaps in technology playing a huge part in their decision making.

It is this new generation that will take farming to another level and I am looking forward to seeing the improvements they will make to this wonderful industry.

During my time as a sheep producer and following the work done by my parents, I learnt from experience.

It takes time to adopt new practices and know what the outcomes will be.

Having an event like the Woolorama is essential for anyone who is serious about improving their enterprises. Meeting up with other producers is critical.

Asking questions, getting advice and learning from experts is all part of the discovery process.

Adding to the attraction of sheep production is the demand for sheep in the east.

Watching the devastation they have had to endure from long-term drought and fires has been heartbreaking, because we know what it feels like.

With recent rains and massive growth in dormant pasture, they are now in the position to take advantage of the green feed and can start to restock.

This gives the WA producers another reason to build their flocks and provide stock for the Eastern States.

It is essential that the WA flock retains a critical mass and is self-replacing, and it is through the Woolorama that we get this message as well as educating the consumers of our product.

As The Nationals WA spokesperson for education and training, it is great to see students from the agricultural colleges showing and judging sheep, cattle and other livestock at the Woolorama.

These events give students the opportunity to showcase the skills and knowledge they have gained at the regional agricultural colleges.

It is also pleasing to see that more than 50 per cent of all students at the WA College of Agriculture — Denmark are female, showing that agriculture is an industry open to everyone.

I would like to see more opportunities for these students to expand their agricultural training after high school and encourage a return of tertiary agricultural studies to our regional areas.

The Woolorama wouldn’t exist without the army of volunteers who each year give so generously of their time and expertise for the event.

It is a well-oiled machine encouraging everyone to be involved in some capacity to help bring it all together.

To build an event like the Woolorama takes generations of people to join committees and give their free time.

It is this generosity of spirit which keeps the event going and I look forward to seeing today’s children become tomorrow’s leaders in this community.

As a child, my parents brought me along to the Woolorama and it is great to see so many families still bringing their kids and grandkids with them, passing on their love of farming and showing them what the future in farming looks like.

It’s a great time to be farming and the Woolorama reflects this.

I would sincerely like to thank the president and the committee for bestowing the patronage for the Woolorama on me.

I am hugely honoured by this and am especially proud to promote the Woolorama wherever I go.

I thank this year’s Wagin Woolorama president Howie Ward and his committee for another fabulous event.

Peter Rundle is a Katanning farmer, Member for Roe and the 2020 Wagin Woolorama event patron.

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