Griffiths family reunites on the shearing board

Eric Griffiths must have taught son Cameron well for the latter to have a long and successful shearing career, including winning two Diamond Shears events back in the 1990s.

The duo celebrated Cameron’s 40 years of shearing by returning to the very spot where Cameron sheared his first sheep (under Eric’s supervision, of course) back in 1978 in the old shearing shed on Kabonne, now owned by Bruce and Helen Petrie.

Any excuse for a party but it was a good excuse for family and friends to gather to mark the anniversary and to witness the father/son team go blow-for-blow.

Now 80, Eric bought Kabonne off Ted Schiffman as a young groom back in 1963, turning the former dairy farm into a grazing property.

Eric still competes, recently scoring an impressive second place trophy at a SCFA (Shearing Competition Federation of Australia) reunion competition in Broken Hill in the over-70s division, even though he had up to a decade on the other competitors. The SCFA oversaw show competitions from the 1960’s through to the turn of the century.

Eric started shearing at 14, taught by his father Sidney at the family’s Deepwater property, who in turn was taught by his father.

Eric said that Sidney showed him a good technique that had stood the test of time.

“He was hard, but good.”

At its peak there were 2100 sheep to shear on Kabonne. The task isn’t quite so daunting these days with the Petries having 85 lining up for a haircut, although it was a special occasion to have the Griffiths back to do the job.

“It’s a bit of bull but a bit of fun,” Eric said.

He was impressed to see the old shed still standing. The new shearing shed was built on the property by Cameron with help from Eric in 1999 and while it certainly provided better protection from Saturday’s cold, blustery winds, it doesn’t quite have the same character as the old timber structure.

The old shed has just the one shearing stand now and the Griffiths boys took it in turns to each shear a sheep to mark the 40th anniversary of Cameron’s career, back where it all began. The party then moved to the more efficient new shed where there were many to cheer on the efforts of the shearers as they tackled the job at hand.

Family friend Mandy Cattarin even brought along his guitar, including Click go the Shears in his repertoire for the day.

While Cameron may have shorn hundreds of thousands of sheep in many different sheds over the years, the nostalgia of the fourth-generation shearer celebrating his four decades in the industry back in the family shearing shed was not lost on anyone at the celebration.