Our first stop was historic Ross on the Midlands Hwy about an hour south of Launceston. Ross remains mostly untouched and unchanged visually from it's convict times and is so steeped in Tasmanian history that I'll revisit that subject another time but for now we'll visit the wool centre.
By the way, I think Ross has THE cleanest and most pleasant public toilets in the whole of Tasmania and makes an ideal stop for morning tea. It was an idyllic mild winters day, crystal blue skies, no wind and warm sun shining down. We set up a quick tea and coffee station on a nearby bench and served ANZAC biscuits and an Apple Spice Cake.
Directly across the road is the wool centre, perfect!
It is a retail showcase for woollen garments and knitting accessories but it is also houses a fabulous "museum" and historical display of the sheep industry in Tasmania.
You could spend at least an hour looking at the displays alone but unfortunately we only have half an hour and it's back on the bus so I arranged for a talk to the ladies about
White Gum Wool
You can read the full story here about the ethically raised sheep in the Tasmanian midlands and you can also watch a story clip here from a Landline special here.
I contacted Nan Bray, the owner of the sheep farm, to see if she would speak to us at the centre but unfortunately she was right in the middle of shearing but we had a lovely lady from the centre give us a brief insight into the difference of White Gum Wool. Many of the techniques employed on the farm are in direct contrast to most properties and I would imagine there a few hairy-eared farmers having a bit of a scoff but I think Nan is a real hero. One of the really interesting things she does is manage pasture for greater diversity of food selection and she allows the lambs to self wean and stay within their family groups for five years. Her philosophy is that though genetics are certainly important, just as, or if not more importantly, is the way in which sheep are raised. You get back what you put in. Do watch the video link, it's a great story.
The ladies had a great time and most bought something from the White Gum Wool range. I bought a ball of the sock wool to try and look forward to working with it. They will become a pair of socks for Craig.
Don't you just love these needles? These are from Art Viva and are Tasmanian made, you may recall from a recent post that I tried these out at the Campbell Town show this year and bought a couple of pairs. I really like the point and angle on them. Here is the link for Art Viva if you would like to see more.
That's it, time's up!
Back on the bus for a bit more mystery knitting and on to our next stop in Hobart!