Book on history of shearing wins Australia Day award

Honoured: Valerie Hobson.
Honoured: Valerie Hobson.

Mrs Hobson was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for her service to the community by helping to record the history of WA’s shearing industry.

‘I’m a little bit overwhelmed ” I haven’t got used to it yet,’ she said.

Mrs Hobson, who grew up on a farm in the eastern Wheatbelt, said she had fond memories of watching the shearers and herding sheep on horseback.

‘The shearer stayed on our property with his family, so we had other children to play with and that has always remained in my memory,’ she said.

Mrs Hobson has played a significant role in supporting the shearing and farming industry and in 2008 published Across the Board: stories of Western Australian shearing as told by the people who worked in the sheds.

The book was the catalyst for reuniting shearers from the post-war wool boom era when the travelling shearer industry was prominent.

Mrs Hobson said the idea for the book came after doing a Masters in local history in the 1990s.

‘One of the exercises I did was to write a story about the shearing industry,’ she said.

‘I realised then, having done the history study, what an important part of local history it was.

‘I decided to put a book together about it and interviewed 62 people, including five women to get their stories.’

Although the awards were announced on Australia Day, the recipients will attend investitures around Australia in the coming months to receive their prizes.