Jason Wingfield is one of the nation’s top shearers, but competition is simply the icing on the cake for this committed contractor who’s shorn all over the country and internationally for nearly two decades.
Story By Kathy Mexted
Jason Wingfield's white Toyota HiLux pulls up at the ultra modern Tuppal Station shearing shed in Tocumwal, in southern New South Wales. The ute is covered with a layer of fine red dust that is foreign to these parts and, coupled with the fat diary and paperwork on the passenger seat, it suggests a busy man who has travelled far. He is settling into his new role as a shearing contractor and has just driven seven hours to get to Tuppal, which is not far from his home town of Barooga.
The travelling is nothing new to Jason, 37, who has been shearing since he was 18. His childhood was spent on the family farm in Lexton – population 149 – just outside Ballarat, Vic. “Dad was a cocky shearer who later went contract shearing,” Jason says. “He twice shore 200 in a day using a narrow handpiece.”
After completing Year 11, Jason worked at Geelong’s Port Adelaide Wool Company as a junior store-hand while he studied wool classing at nearby Gordon Technical College (now The Gordon). When the wool store closed, Jason went shearing to fill in time while finishing his studies. “Nineteen years later, I’m still filling in time, but I did finish my studies,” he says with a grin.
Getting started is tough, and in Lexton alone there were about 10 good shearers. “It was hard to get work as a new bloke in 1993/94,” he says. “I decided I had to promote myself, so I took up competition shearing to see how I’d go. At the first national titles I made the finals and thought, ‘Well, I’m not stopping now’, and as I became more involved I got more competitive. I kept getting placed and it took 10 years to win the nationals, but when I won, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.” He has now been competing at the top level for 14 years. “There are about three or four of us who have been together at the top for nine years, and we keep pushing each other along, so the standard has crept up,” he says.
This story excerpt is from Issue #78
Outback Magazine: Aug/Sept 2011