Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Sheep and Wool Show a “no–go”

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Kendall Jennings, The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper

The annual Australian Sheep and Wool Show (ASWS) that was to be held in Bendigo was cancelled on the eve of the competition last Thursday due to the Victorian snap five-day lockdown. The largest event of its type in the world, stallholders, visitors and organisers were forced into turmoil refunding tickets, returning stock, cancelling accommodation and throwing out food produced for the event. Organisers appealed to the Victorian State Government to allow the event to run without crowds; however, that attempt was rejected.


Locals, Guy Treweek and Maree Whelan, who have the ‘Induro’ White Suffolk Stud at Wakool, were caught up in the late cancellation of the event. ‘Induro’ White Suffolks has been entering the Australian Sheep and Wool Show since 2005 and had not missed a year until COVID-19 took over, causing government restrictions and state closures. 

This year, the stud prepared 17 sheep for the show, 11 rams and six ewes. It takes months to prepare for competition; you don’t just stand in the paddock and pick that one and that one. With high expectations for this year’s show, preparation was going well. “We started preparing the rams at the beginning of March, and they are looking really good,” said Maree Whelan. “We are pleased with how they scanned, averaging 125 kilograms and all scored over 50mm for eye muscle depth, have good breed type and are structurally sound, which would have made them very competitive in the show ring.” 

Guy travelled to Bendigo Thursday morning. He unloaded, set everything up and got all the sheep scanned. Then the announcement was made to cancel the show due to Victoria’s lockdown. The ASWS committee tried its best to appeal to the Victorian Government to proceed as a ‘closed show’ for the sheep exhibitors only. The committee asked if all the sheep breeds could be judged on Friday, and then everyone go home Friday night. The Victorian Government declined this proposal. 


“Once this decision was made, people had to weigh up their own situations. The South Australian exhibitors desperately had to leave to get back over the border by midnight. Some Victorians and southern New South Wales exhibitors chose to stay the night and leave first thing in the morning,” said Maree. 

“Exhibitors come from all over Australia and therefore travel hundreds of kilometres to attend this show. Some had already driven for seven-plus hours; then they were told they had to leave. We are fortunate to be within the border bubble, and getting home was not a problem. The motel that we were booked into said they lost $25,000 in an hour,” concluded Maree.

The ASWS, a Bendigo Business Excellence Awards 2019 winner, stated on its website that refunds and carry over fees would be dealt with in the coming weeks and request that people please give them time.

The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper 22 July 2021

This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 22 July 2021.


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