A YOUNG Horsham wool buyer believes his love of working in a shearing sheds led him to enter wool handling competitions throughout the state.
Zack Currie, 19, won the senior wool handling competition at the 140th annual Australian Sheep and Wool Show at the weekend.
He will now compete in the national wool handling competition in October.
Mr Currie moved to Horsham last year to start as a trainee wool buyer with the Australian Wool Network.
He said it wasn’t long before he started entering country shows.
Mr Currie, originally from Bonnie Doon, became interested in agriculture in high school.
“I did a course in year nine that introduced me to farming – I didn’t grow up on a large property, my family just had a hobby farm with horses, so I didn’t know much about sheep or wool,” he said.
“I did a certificate II and then a certificate III in agriculture, where I did work placement on a farm with cattle and sheep.
“That’s where I first became involved in shearing and was able to see how a shearing shed operated.”
Mr Currie left school at the end of year 10 and worked as a rouseabout.
He then went on to become a wool classer and got his stencil at the end of 2014.
“My wool classing instructor encouraged me to apply to be a trainee at Horsham,” he said.
However, Mr Currie said he missed life in the shearing shed.
“I found out that there were wool handling competitions around and I could compete in something that I was so passionate about,” he said.
“I was so excited – I didn’t even know it was a thing.
“I first went to a show in Balmoral and then Natimuk and so on.
“I wanted to go to as many shows as I could.
“It’s a great way to meet like-minded people.”
Mr Currie was rapt to win at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show at the weekend.
“There are three levels – novice, senior and open and I’m in senior,” he said.
“When you attend shows, you earn points and at the end of the show circuit, the competitor with the most points wins and gets to compete at the national titles.
“This year, that was me.”
Mr Currie said it was a tough competition in Bendigo.
“I didn’t expect to win,” he said.
“I’ve been to a lot of competitions and I don’t always come first, but my hard work paid off on this occasion.”
Wool handlers are judged on how they throw the fleece, how clean they are, their lines of wool and their time.
Mr Currie said the best of the best from each state would compete at the national titles in October.
The titles are run in conjunction with the Bendigo Show.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Mr Currie said.
“The top competitors come to fight it out for a spot in the Australian team.”
Mr Currie said only wool handlers in the open section could go on to the national team.
“That doesn’t mean I won’t keep on going until I become an open competitor one day,” he said.
Mr Currie is also a member of the Horsham Agriculture Society.
“I joined about a year ago and I’m glad I did – there are a few young people on the committee, but there is room for more youth,” he said.