Whip Cracking and Sheep Shearing

All four of us signed up for the Outback Experience excursion out of Sydney for our day of adventure.  Took about a hour on the coach before we arrived at the Tobruk Sheep Station.  A drover on horseback met us at the gate and led us up to the Station.

We then were directed to the cook’s shed to enjoy Billy Tea and Damper.  The tea was made in metal cook pots over an open fire, with the final step being to add a fair amount of Billy tea leaves to the boiling water and swing the pot in the air, in a circular motion, for 3 rounds. The damper, which is a type of soda bread, had been cooking for a couple of hours buried in the fire’s coals.  After scraping off the coals, he uncovered the container of bread, cut it into hunks, and the girls in the kitchen quickly slathered it with fresh butter and honey.  It was yummy!

Outside the cook shed, there was an old tree stump on which 2 sheep dogs were standing, acting very excited.  They knew what was going to happen next.  The drover, on horseback, came over to the stump and the dogs jumped on to the horse and off they went to the field of sheep that was down the hill.  They let the dogs ride to conserve their energy for their work with the sheep.

Once they reached the sheep, the dogs quickly jumped off the horse and began rounding up the flock.  It did not take the dogs any time at all to get them back up the hill and into the pens.


The ranch hand then explained how they use the chutes to separate the lambs into categories, docking the lambs’ tail, castrating the males, and dousing with worm medicine. Look carefully at the second picture and you will see how the dogs crawl onto and walk along the backs of the sheep in the chutes, to keep the sheep moving towards the head of the chute. He also showed us how to use the lamb’s teeth to tell its age.

Dogs walking on top of sheep in the chute.


Determining age of a lamb.


Then we moved into the shearing shed and the two Barbara’s helped with the shearing process.  They were not quite as fast as the professionals (14.5 seconds per lamb), but they had fun helping out and that was the important thing.  Then the wool is sorted by grade and kept in bins in the wool barn until they take it to market.

Barb Cook shearing sheep


Barbara Dempsey shearing sheep


Carolyn in the wool barn


Mary Jane in the wool barn


We then were directed to a large open air dining shed where we enjoyed a wonderful Australian barbee lunch.  We did not eat kangaroo, but we had 4 other kinds of meats to savor, fresh vegetables, and homemade breads.

Then off to the back porch where we sat to watch instructions on how to throw a boomerang and to crack a whip.  When the drover did the lessons, it looked soooo easy, but trying it out was another thing.  But Carolyn and Barb took their turns practicing the whip cracking.  I think Barb was better at the sheep shearing while Carolyn seemed to be the best at whip cracking, though her shoulder was sore the next day.

It was a fun day for all!


3 Responses to “Whip Cracking and Sheep Shearing”

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  2. CW – We are REALLY enjoying the details of your travels and the pictures. Just wondering – why when everyone else is shearing sheep, you are standing with a large grin?? Be good, F

  3. Barbara Allender March 5, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Too bad Carolyn didn’t have the whip while she was teaching at UNM. Barbara

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