Warren Bell has been a shearer for about 30 years and is one of three generations of the Bell family working in the industry.
“I began shearing when I was 20,” he recalled.
“I started around Narrabri, there were still sheep around the area then. But I ended having to travel everywhere – Queensland, Western NSW, Victoria, I saw a lot country and met a lot of people.
“I am semi-retired now.”
His two sons are continuing the family involvement in the industry.
“Dillon is 20 and Brady is 19,” said Warren.
“They have pretty much jumped into my shoes.
“They always wanted to be shearers, they practically grew up in shearing sheds from the time they could walk.
“I’ve done it most of my life and they never wanted to be anything else than shearers – and they are pretty good at it too.
“They learned from me and other shearing mates we worked with. They picked up work with contractors here and there, one sent them to shearing school in Dubbo because he reckoned they had a bit of talent.”
Although Warren is nowadays semi-retired he still works with the boys from time to time.
“It’s been a good life – I’ve loved it and the boys do – that’s why they are going so well at it,” he said.
“There aren’t a lot of young people pulling the game on now, it’s pretty hard work and not a lot of young blokes want to do it these days.”
The family’s three generations in the industry includes Warren’s mother Gail.
“My mother Gail had been a shearer’s cook when I first started. My step father was a wool presser and when I left school they got me into working in the sheds, first as a rouseabout for several years.
“My stepfather said ‘if you are going to be in the shed you want to learn how to shear.’
“The shearers I was working with were pretty handy fellas and they didn’t mind helping me learn.
“I can’t see the boys leaving to do anything else – they love it.”
Warren still does a few days, with the boys, like the job at Westend.
“There is work out there but you have to be prepared to travel in the shearing game now,” he said.
“The majority of the work nowadays is in Victoria.”
The third generation of Bells has a future in the industry, Warren reckons, and there will always be a need for shearers.
“They’ve tried robotic shearing and chemical shearing but it didn’t work out.
“Times have changed, but there is always going to be shearing.”To order photos from this page click here