We left Sydney and spent a couple of lovely days with friends at Austinmer, which is about 2 hours south of Sydney on the coast. B just happens to be a twitcher, so she and Steve were in their element out there together scouting for birds. We did a couple of walks along the coast and just relaxed. Steve added 15 new birds to his list in this short time, so this proves 2 bird nerds are better than 1! M
After Austi we headed south west towards the Alps. We were now in sheep country we and had a quick stop in Goulburn for lunch. Stopping at “big things” around Australia has always been a bit of a laugh for us. It is such an Australian thing. We won’t go out of our way to see one, but if its nearby we have to stop for a picture. The big Merino in Goulburn is probably the most impressive big thing we have seen so far in all previous travel in Australia. It is 15.2 metres tall and made of concrete and very realistic looking. The locals call it Rambo and inside it, is a wool museum. Not having gone to school in Australia I found the museum quite interesting. For those not interested in the museum you can climb to the top and look out it’s eyes. M
In 2007 they moved Rambo when the bypass went in and not enough people were stopping. Steve found a Bunnings looking out the eye.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT WOOL I LEARNED INSIDE THE BIG MERINO
- 1788 First sheep arrived on the first fleet
- In a differing climate and with the selection pressures applied by breeders the Spanish Merino changed and the wool slowly began to develop in a distinct way- noted for it’s whiteness and softness.
- First Merinos bought by a soldier and a clergyman-John Macarthur and Samuel Marsden
- 1870 Australia became No 1 producer/supplier of wool surpassing England. Australia’s richest men were pastoralists
- 1892 during long boom sheep increased to 106 million
- 1895-1902 federation drought halved the sheep population to 53.7 million. The current drought in outback QLD is being compared to this one.
- 1916 Britian purchased the entire wool clip at a fixed price for the duration of WWI for military uniforms etc. War is good for business!!!
- 1916 French designer Chanel started to use wool in fashion for the first time.
- 1939 Britian bought all of Australias wool for the duration of WWII. As the war went on shearers were prohibited from volunteering for war service.
- 1941 sheep numbers reach 125.2 million
- 1951Prosperity in the Aust wool industry peaked. The Korean War helped boost the price of wool.
- 1959 Britain no longer main buyer. Japan surpasses Britain by buying twice as much wool.
- 1970 Aust has a record 180million sheep
- 1972-73 wool exports pass the 1$ billion mark. First time since the Korean War.
- 1990 Aust wool production hit all time high
- 2003 Wool processing industry challenged by China-now largest processor of Australian wool.
- Australia in (2007stats) still largest producer of wool. 2nd is China. 3rd isUSA. 4th New Zealand- Go Aussie GO! M
That evening we stopped in the tiny town of Jugiong and camped at a lovely free camp on the town’s showground on the Murrumbidgee River. It was pretty hot and Steve climbed down the steep bank and got in the fast flowing river and then we both headed next door to the swimming pool. It was 38deg at 5pm and the pool was 28deg, so only a little bit refreshing. We had dinner at the motel which had a dining room that over looked a paddock full of cows and corellas and then the river behind. We ate and watched the sun set behind the hill. M
On the road into town were some great sculptures by award winning sculptor Keith Simpson who made sculptures out of old car parts and junk. They were amazingly realistic looking. M