Shearing school

Country schools are the best schools and worst schools. The worst are run like medieval fiefdoms, with limited opportunities and unprogressive teaching practices. The best are as good as any schools anywhere. I think that the school in Lightning Ridge, for all its flaws (and every public school is flawed) is pretty bloody good.

This week, before the Delta strain of COVID-19 took a stranglehold on the region, I got to take some students out for a three-day shearing school at Bangate Station. The students had already undergone a taster session at Carinya and loved it. Now it was time for Big School!

We headed out on the Goodooga Road in the school car. The weather was cool, with low-slung clouds cotton-balling the sky. The turnoff to Bangate is hard to miss: Doug Caley’s love of Big Machines is well advertised for all to see!

There were four students, all girls, and they worked hard. Wayne and Penny, their tutors, gave them a real taste of what it’s like to earn a living out bush, and Nikki the teacher’s aide kept them pepped up and on the go.

A shearing shed running in top gear is a sight, sound and smell to behold: the whine of the shears, the shouts of the shearers, the bleats of the sheep, the pounding beat of the gigantic boom box pumping out 120 bpm music to work by, the constant movement of the rouseabouts. It’s exciting!

Unfortunately, I was in my Mr Prim school clothes. Talk about self-conscious, mincing around trying not to get in the way or do something stupid.

I wanted to say, “I’m not just a teacher! I had a real job once upon a time: honestly! These soft namby-pamby hands were once rough and calloused!”

I don’t think they would have bothered; they were too busy doing actual work.

It’s a great life, working in the bush.

And this was a great opportunity for our students. We’re may not be Saint Phenergan’s College of the Holy Moley, but we’re not bad. Not bad at all.

4 thoughts on “Shearing school

    1. Yes, Ruth: it seems that it’s the girls who are getting into our primary industries jobs: everything from shearing to drone flying. There are LOTS of jobs out there, from hard work to high tech.

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