Tasmania’s Miena station is world renowned for its superfine wool, thanks in no small part to the stubborn dedication of Des Manning.

Story + Photos Andrew Bain

Inside the shearing shed on Miena, a trio of shearers work the narrow boards. Fleeces flare and fall as Brearne Bingley tosses them over the classing table, where knowing hands sort through the wool. Behind everything, 92-year-old Des Manning roams quietly, his gnarled fingers stroking the fine crimps of the fleeces.

His eyesight may be failing but he sees more than most. “I reckon he sees alright; nothing gets past him,” says shearer Clinton Palmer, who first worked in this shed more than 30 years ago. “He’s been in the industry for that long; that’s why he’s got such good wool.”

For 64 years Des has worked this land, about 20 kilometres east of Oatlands, in Tasmania’s Southern Midlands, steadfastly refusing to bend to trends. As irrigation and mixed farming have transformed much of the region, he has been resolute in his determination to do what he does best. And that’s produce wool: superfine Saxon Merino wool. It’s all he’s wanted to do since he was a child and it’s resulted in one of the finest wool clips in Australia. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #112

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2017