Wool specimen from a flock ram
The wool collection held by the Powerhouse Museum contains thousands of wool samples collected between 1804 and 2003. These samples provide a record of wool growing in Australia. The different fleeces reflect the breeding programs and environmental conditions under which the fleeces were grown and, as such, they provide a valuable history of the areas of Australia in which sheep were grazed.
Sheep were introduced into Australia in 1788 from Cape Town in South Africa. Since then sheep from other countries, including the Spanish Merino were imported into Australia and selectively crossbred. Careful crossbreeding, paying particular attention to the impact of the environment on both animal and fleece, led to the evolution of the Australian Merino. It is an excellent example of the engineering, through selective breeding, of a domestic animal. Wool went on to become the mainstay of the Australian Economy from 1807 to 1960.
This particular wool specimen comes from a sheep bred at Lue station, near Mudgee, in New South Wales. The station was founded in 1823 using English merino sheep with Saxon sheep being added to the flock in 1828. This initial flock was later consolidated with Steiger and Gadegast blood, a move which proved highly beneficial for the station. VJ Dowling purchased the property in 1879 and introduced several rams from Rawdon station, near Mudgee, and a Tasmanian ram from Bellevue. Lue stock quickly became used all throughout the Riverina, Central Western New South Wales and Queensland in the late nineteenth century.
Charles Massy. 'The Australian Merino', Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Victoria, 1990.