Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Eager to enjoy of new truck, we rode out to Jondaryan yesterday. A small community about 30 minutes west (more of less) of Toowoomba, this is an interesting place. Our first stop was at St. Anne's church. A small community church that has service only once every two weeks.

Naturally, across the road is the cemetery and this one, while small had a few surprises. Most notably was the Chicken family site. The family name is Chicken. This led to the interesting marker seen below. Check out the small plaque at the bottom of the stone.

On down the road a short distance is the Jondaryan Wool Shed. This is a historic site that has become a tourist attraction. In addition to the original buildings where hundreds of thousands of sheep were sheared, they've added many historic buildings from around the country: shepherd's and fence rider's houses from a century or more ago.

The main attraction is the shearing barn shown below. The sheep are herded into the barn in stalls and the shearers, standing in the space shown below use automatic shears driven a central power source (probably steam, I did not see it). You can see the mechanical connections from the overhead drive system to hand-held shears. There is a small door at each shearing station for shoving out the sheep when the shearing is finished.

The pelts of wool are gathered and graded on tables similar to this one. This is the important bit: the grade or class of the wool determines its prices. Similarly classes wool is put in bundles together and shipped out for sale.

This place has a big celebration each spring with shearing demonstrations, food, and lots of family fun. The celebration is honor of a fellow named Jackie Howe. Here's an except from Wikipedia about his claim to fame:

Howe was born at Killarney near Warwick, Queensland. On 10 October 1892, Howe shore 321 sheep in seven hours and 40 minutes at Alice Downs station, near Blackall, Queensland. This was a faster tally than any other shearer had achieved before. In the week beforehand, Howe also set the weekly record, shearing 1,437 sheep in 44 hours and 30 minutes. Howe's daily record was beaten by Ted Reick in 1950, but Reick was using machine shears, while Howe's hand shears were little more than scissors. Howe's weekly record stands unbeaten as of 2005.
Imagine trying to cut raw wool off a moving animal with what really are crude scissors! In the peak year in the 19th century (I forgot which year now, 1890-something) there were over 650,000 sheep sheared at this station!

On one end of the farm is a large field that we learned is a caravan park for the the crowds that gather for the festival each year. Here, E is stilling on the walkway checking out the birds. She had a five (new) bird day that included the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo. Not too shabby.

By this time we were a bit peckish so we headed to the tea and damper shack. Wait, what's that...you don't know what "damper" is? Well neither did we until we asked. It is a simple soda bread traditionally backed in the ashes of a fire. Mostly flour, salt, water and not much else. We were given a thick slice slathered with butter and topped with "golden syrup" (which seems to be a variety of molasses.

Under sheds there were collections of old farm machinery...

and trucks...

And engines in things that I don't really recognize.

Finally, here're some red pumped parrots having a knosh on the ground.