Saturday 15th March 2014 (part two):
Walcha (pronounced Wol-ka) is about an hour south of Armidale. Every year it holds an agricultural show, an important few days of judging and displays. The show had already been underway for a day and half by the time we turned up on Saturday afternoon, so we had missed the ring events, but there was still plenty to see.
First up, we watched one sheep dog trial. I used to have a dog like this, even though we didn’t live in the country. It had a habit of rounding me up every time I went into the backyard to hang out the washing. This one is a kelpie, red and blue cattle dogs are also commonly used on the land.
Then we moved on to the shearing competition. We spent quite a time watching the various grades from the junior shearers, through to the “gun” shearers – some can shear 400 sheep in a day, at a rate of around two minutes per sheep. It is not easy to take decent photographs without being at the front of the spectators, and we definitely looked like a couple of city slickers so I wasn’t about to do that. They also move with such speed that many shots were blurred, but I think you can see that both the shearer and the sheep get into some awkward positions, and being newly shorn is not a glamorous look for a sheep.
On the way into the into the exhibition shed, we noticed a Guess the Live Weight of this Bullock competition . . . not my area of expertise at all. But I am guessing the bull was happier to be in the Live Weight comp, rather than the Dead Weight one.
Inside the pavilion, there were extensive displays of vegetables, cakes and slices, jams, sauces, relishes, vegetables, floral art, patchwork, knitting, art, photographs, school displays – and of course, wool.
We continued wandering around, past the cook-off competition, and into the poultry shed. Who knew there were so many varieties of feathery chickens and ducks? Ignoring sideshow alley, we watched some of the horsemanship from a distance, and then heard they were setting up for a demolition derby. Exactly what that has do with agriculture and the countryside is beyond me, but it was a bit of bang ’em up fun, and the kids loved it. They invaded the show ring the moment the all clear was sounded.
We would have liked to stay for the rodeo, but it wasn’t beginning until 6.30pm, and we were tired from our long day and not too keen to drive back in the dark. The last thing we want to do on this trip is hit a kangaroo.