Tim Chapman, a wool broker who has been involved in the industry for the last 50 years or so, came along to let us know about what he describes as a hair-raising production process! The first Merinos were introduced into Australia in 1797 – all 26 of them, and they were brought here from the Cape of Good Hope. By the 1970s the number of such sheep had reached 180 million, but these days it is down considerably to about 70 million. Nevertheless as at 2019 wool was still in the top 15 of Australia’s export products as measured by value. China is a very prominent customer these days, and so they dictate the terms of trade. In general the price of wool has fallen from around 1800 cents per kilo a couple of years ago to about 870 cents in recent Covid-19 times, and so stockpiling is taking place. The growers face volatile market conditions and unpredictable cost fluctuations, most of which are totally beyond their control. Tim explained the processes that wool goes through to get to market, and gave us an idea of the different grades and usage patterns. For example woollen vests are good for sleeping in as they ‘breathe’, resulting in a comfortable night for the user. Thicker fibres are used for items such as carpets, whilst finer fibres go into quality clothing such as suits. Thank you Tim for a very interesting talk! It was a sheer delight!