The Makers: Jason Murray

Ever wondered what goes on before our Shleep products are ready for sale? In this series,
The Makers, we offer a unique first-hand insight into the Australian wool industry, in partnership with the talented Chantel Renae Photography.

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The earliest memory Jason ‘Muzz’ Murray has of life on his family’s Merino sheep property, ‘Sutton Grange’, in the regional Queensland town of Meandarra, is playing in the wool bins in the woolshed at shearing time. Watching the shearers, while peeking out from the bins, he was in awe of them. Big, sweaty men tackling sheep that, as a child, seemed like the size of beasts to him. It’s always been his playground.

Now, grown and in his 30s, Jason still watches the shearers from the wool bins, just now he is at work, instead of play.

“I was around 13 when I had my first taste of shearing a sheep,” he recalls. “I just jumped on and had a go at it. I knocked the fluff of the back leg, it wasn’t my best work to say the least. I didn’t really get that much wool off.”

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After finishing school, Jason soon returned to the shearing shed at 18 and has made wool his career for the past 12 years.

“I started out as a rousy [rouseabout] for a shearing team that my dad – who was a woolclasser – worked on. I enjoyed rousying and had a lot of fun at work. But, I just really wanted to be a shearer. I stuck with rousying for a year-and-a-half before I landed my first pen [shearing job]. By the end of the week I thought I had been hit by a truck, I’ve never been so worn out.”

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The wool industry has been an integral part of the heritage of Australia and its families for many generations. As consumers become increasingly aware of where their clothes come from, many never get the opportunity to see the full picture. Grown by the simple mix of sunshine, fresh air, grass and water, Australian Merino wool is the best in the world. And it takes the best to carefully harvest the wool from a sheep. Shearing is necessary for the health and happiness of sheep and if it’s not done, the fleece can become overgrown and impact the animals.

Shearing is the process of removing the fleece, which is just like getting a haircut as the wool grows right back. It’s for this reason that wool is truly renewable and is one of the reasons we chose wool as the fibre of choice for Shleep products.

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In between shearing jobs, Jason would gladly go wool pressing to give the muscles he strains during shearing, a break. Wool pressing is the process of taking freshly shorn fleece and putting it into a wool press to then form bales of wool.

“I love the solitude of pressing, being out the back, away from everyone. You don’t really need to worry about anything going on around you. You just know what you’ve got to do and just do it.

“Shearing is really tough on my body, but pressing still makes you sore. I’m always hitting my elbows on the bloody wool bins, pulling the wool out. I’ve given them some pretty good whacks over the years.

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“I just love working with wool, it’s easy. It’s all on-the-job training in the woolshed. It’s always so soft too, which is a bonus when pressing. If it’s a super soft fleece I don’t mind rubbing my face all over it before it goes into the press. Probably another good thing about the solitude around the back is that no one sees that.”

Although Jason has had a decade-long career in the wool industry, he still enjoys wool and the shearing sheds as much as he did as a child. He hopes to give his son, Travis, the same experience he has had.

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“It would be nice for my son to grow up in the woolsheds, meeting different people, travelling and learning skills from the bush. I really want him to know about the land and know exactly where his food and fibre come from. That’s a lot more important to me than a city childhood learning how to cross the road.

“Trav loves being in the sheds, he’s always smiling and playing. He doesn’t mind a good dance at the end of the board when the music is pumping in the shed either. He’s just really happy there. It reminds me of spending time with my dad in the sheds. It’s pretty cool I get to give him that.”

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