Wool grower Georgina Wallace was born and raised on a farm in central Tasmania alongside her three sisters. Today, Georgina is continuing her family legacy and is one of the 60,000 woolgrowers in Australia that are part of The Woolmark Company’s network. Here she shares her story of what it is like running her 7,000 hectare sheep and wool farm ‘Trefusis’ alongside her husband Hamish; how she’s never felt intimidated as a woman working in a fairly male-dominated sphere; and why taking care of both the land and animals is crucial for success.
A Love for the Land and Animals
“We had a very simple but idyllic childhood surrounded by animals. I’ve spent my whole life farming and have had a love for the land and for animals from a young age. Our parents always taught us the importance of caring for the land and looking after our animals because if both the land and animals are healthy they will be happy and very productive, producing a wonderful fibre.
“I also see ourselves as custodians of this land – my parents spent 60 years improving this property and sheep, and therefore my husband Hamish and I want to continue this legacy and leave our property in even better order for the next generation.”
Successful Women Wool Growers
“My parents always encouraged my sisters and I to be involved with the farm, so from a young age we worked on the farm alongside our male workmen. It was a time that not many women worked on the land, but we saw nothing different. This philosophy has followed me through my career, whereby I have never felt intimidated by being involved in a fairly male dominated sphere. I have been President of our Local show, President of our State Merino Breeders Association and President of the Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders.”
A Year-Long Cycle
“Growing a beautiful merino fleece of wool takes much forward planning and a 12 month cycle to grow. Our year starts in January selecting our top stud merino Rams to go with our top stud merino ewes, making sure that we are crossing the best genetics and achieving increased productivity through this process.
“The rams are mated with the Ewes in March and Lamb in August. We monitor their condition very closely throughout the year to ensure that they are in good order and healthy. During that time, they are shorn in May and treated with vaccines and drenches to keep diseases and worms away.
“In November the lambs are weaned from their mothers and fed on a lush green pasture to continue their growth. In December all our sheep are crutched and drenched and then we are back to January for another cycle in the merino sheep world!
“Breeding good Merino sheep is hard work but also very rewarding, there is always some task to be done every week of the year and what I particularly love is that no one day is the same as the next.”
Striving to be the Best
“My parents were perfectionists, always striving to produce the best that they could – I think that I’ve inherited that trait and my husband is of the same ilk. I strive to breed the best merino sheep and wool that I can and to do that takes good planning, good pastures, sound healthy productive sheep and good management. It’s a combination of many factors that all have to come together 12 months of the year.
“I am and always have been very passionate about the merino sheep and wool industry – I think that Merinos are such amazing animals that produce a wonderful fibre with many uses that is also environmentally friendly and sustainable. I’m a great believer that if you work hard and try to breed the best that you can you will achieve results. Over our lifetime my husband and I have won many awards for our sheep and wool. Whilst there is an element of luck to this, it is also no fluke. I think the results achieved to date are due to perseverance, persistence and striving to do the best that we can with the environment and sheep that we have.”
Custodians of the land
“Our property is undulating to hilly ground consisting of improved, semi improved and native pastures. We conserve much of our native ground, only grazing it very lightly for 3 months of the year. We have also built a large dam which holds 7,500 megalitres of water and installed some 700 acres of irrigation, which goes some way to drought-proofing our property and gives us the ability to provide more feed for our sheep.”
Watch Fashion-scapes: Forever Tasmania as Livia meets the wool growers turned Earth defenders to learn more.