On The Sheep's Back

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Author:   Denise Angus
Publisher:   Axiom Publishing
Format:   Softback
ISBN:   9781864766202
Product Id:   5820

It is great to see a book put together with stories directly from the mouths of people who have been in the industry for many years.  A lot of these people I know personally and have great respect for.  Their stories are not the tales of fishermen but of fact, about the characters who for years made up the shearing industry. From shearers to shed hands, cooks to pressers, contractors to cockys [sic], they all have a story to tell…sometimes a different version of the same story. Of course some of the greatest yarns have been buried with the characters themselves.     

There have been many changes over the years in the shearing industry. We’ve seen shearers become fitter, drink less, look after their hard earned money more. These are the more welcome changes. On the other end of the scale we’ve seen a lot of camaraderie and hard fought conditions gone by the wayside.  In my opinion these are the unwelcome changes.      

Improved roads have allowed shearers to return home on weekends rather than stay in the huts and build mateship, however this has allowed more family time and happier partners and children. Unfortunately there are some who stay in the huts on weekends and continue shearing. The great battle over the 40-hour week has been forgotten by a lot of workers who should be protecting the conditions others fought hard for. It is paramount that the Award and industry conditions be maintained for future generations.