Shear Outback was officially opened on Australia Day, Saturday 26th January, 2002.

The official opening was carried out by Kay Hull, the Federal Member for Riverina.

There were an estimated 3,000 people in attendance for the opening ceremony.

An easy-to-read transcript of this article appears below the picture.


The above page has been reproduced with permission from The Riverine Grazier, Hay, N.S.W.


From a small acorn, a big tree grew


Heads turned when Sally Smith arrived at the Hay Business and Development Group meeting in July 1997.

Venue was historic Bishop's Lodge for the group's annual general meeting and 'Christmas in July' dinner.

Sally, a successful business woman and member of HBDG, does not normally attend the group's monthly meetings.

But she had a mission this day, and when five-foot tall Sally stood up and spoke, she changed Hay forever.

She has read in the Land Magazine the previous week that former wool-classer and Kangaroo Valley heritage builder, John Glassford was looking for an old wool shed to turn into a Shearer's Hall of Fame.

"Ideally, I'd like to find a woolshed along the Murrumbidgee or Lachlan River, around Hay or Lockhart, because this was the area considered the home of wool growing in NSW.  This is something we need to do before we lose all the history of this important industry", John was quoted in 'The Land'.

Sally has her mind on Hay getting the Shearer's Hall of Fame and she had no qualms about walking into the HBDG meeting and asking for 'petrol money' to get John to Hay.

It was a small acorn, but HBDG and in particular the president, Pat Nolan enthusiastically supported Sally's idea and provided the funds for John and his partner, Susan to travel to Hay to inspect local sheds and speak to interested people.

Sally had already canvassed unused sheds in the district, and made arrangements for John and Susan to inspect a small but historic shearing shed at 'Apsley' which was promptly offered to them by the Lugsdin family.

John and Susan visited Hay in September, loved the shed and in conjunction with Sally and staff at the 'Riverine Grazier', plans were made for a community meeting to gauge other people's interest.

Hay Shire Council was only too happy to provide the Community Building free of charge for the meeting, Foodworks donated tea, coffee, sugar, milk and biscuits and fliers were hastily produced and distributed by the Grazier staff.

The community meeting was held at Hay Park on Thursday, October 2 at 5:45 PM.  Not a good time for shearers, the novice organisers quickly learned.

It was Mick Rutledge's first official duty as mayor and despite the bad timing, almost 100 interested people attended the meeting, including the member for Murray, Jim Small.

"You will be crazy if you don't take the opportunity when something like this is offered to you", was Jim Small's message to the meeting.

Support for the project came from all sources - from offers of honorary legal work to the use of a crane and marketing expertise.

Offers of help were also received from the former B&S Waradgery Tribe, South West Arts Regional Development officer Kim Biggs, Rotary, shearing contractors and individuals.

The acorn was beginning to take root.  It was not a matter of "will we have it?", but rather," where will we put it?".

A steering committee was formed headed by Ken Munn who chaired the meeting.

Other committee members elected from the floor were Noel Corlis, Kay Morrison, Lional Garner, Rod McCully, Eugene Schiller, Sally Smith, Tertia Butcher, John Breen and a representative from Hay Shire Council, Hay Business and Development Group and Riverina merino Field Days Association.

The second meeting was held on November 8, a Saturday afternoon for the benefit of shearers , and incorporated a workshop to brainstorm ideas.

A committee was formed to get the project started.  Ken Munn was elected inaugural chairman.  Other foundation committee members elected were secretary Tertia Butcher and treasurer Jenni Grimm.

Four sub-committees were formed.  They were Research and Public Relations comprising John Glassford, Pat Nolan, Sally Smith, Tony Coffey, Ken Wilson, Enid Black, Elizabeth McFarland, Phillip Mitchell and chaired by Rod McCully; Funding: Colleen Porter, Airlie Circuitt, Annabel Barr, Pat Nolan, John Breen and Ken Wilson; Fundraising: Alix McFarland, Enid Black and Kay Morrison and Sites, Sheds and Memorabilia: Roley Desaily, Eugine Schiller, Barry Smith, Ron Smith, Lional Garner (Junior) and Sally Smith.

Ken Munn became the first foundation member with a donation of $500 to inject much needed funding into the project.  The name Australian Shearers' Hall of Fame was adopted, and Hay Shire Council offered to register it as a trade name.

In those early, struggling months, the dream was kept alive with the financial support of three local businesses - Perrots Solicitors, The Riverine Grazier and Gardner Financial Services.

By now, the proposed project had gained national support.  Letters and phone calls of support were coming in from shearers in remote areas of Western Australia and Queensland, Victoria and from throughout New South Wales.

McCafferty's, a big name in national charter tours and express coaches wrote from Toowoomba, offering to transport relatives of 'old shearers' to the opening.

At that stage the estimated cost of the entire project was $1 million plus hours of volunteer labour.

However, as the acorn began to grow, it soon became evident that this was a multi-million dollar idea.

Support was never far away.  The Black family of Uardry Merino Stud donated $5,000 in January 1998 towards a business plan which was necessary to attract corporate sponsorship and Government funding.

HBDG provided a further $3,500 towards the business plan, and in April 1998 the state government came to the rescue with a $5,000 grant to fund the plan.

Within a month, the committee was targeting Federation funding, hoping for a slice of the $70 million Federal Government grant for cultural and heritage projects.  The dream came true in September when then Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer announced a $4.66 million Federation Funding win for Hay.

The announcement was made during an inspection of the site by Mr Fischer, accompanied by an entourage of national media.

The Shearers' Hall of Fame was on its way on September 26, 1999 in pouring rain.  Prime Minister John Howard turned the first sod on the site at the junction of Cobb and Sturt Highways.

In September 1997 The Riverine Grazier wrote: Over the years there have been many suggestions and ideas to improve our town, to draw the tourist dollar and to create employment.  At the time they all sounded like wonderful ideas.  But no one ran with it.  John's dream is too big, too simple, too important to ignore.  We cannot afford to push it aside.  Someone else will take it up.  This one is ours.  This one is for the backbone of our wool industry - the shearers.  We will start small and grow.

And Hay did.

What started out as a tiny acorn, dangled in front of Hay Business and Development Group for an investment of a few dollars, has grown into a mighty tree in a space of four and-a-half years.  And next weekend the people of Hay will take time out to celebrate this achievement.



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Extracts reproduced with permission from The Riverine Grazier