Cathy Wendelborn, Australian female shearing champion

As a young kid, I fondly remember watching Cathy Wendelborn many-a-times on the shearing platform at the Millicent Show. She was renowned for being tough, efficient — and — one of the best shearers getting around. She was a clean shearer, shearing close to the skin but never nicking the sheep.

She was also a lovely, funny and, kind person. I'd frequently see her with my parents at my aunt and uncle's house. Something that always caught my eye about Cathy whenever I'd see her, were her chiseled arms. They were slender but full of muscle. She was fit and could stand her own against any men in the shearing shed.

Cathy was a trailblazer for women shearers and traveled widely shearing in Australia and New Zealand. After leaving high school, she worked in local shearing sheds in Millicent as a shed hand before professionally picking up a hand piece around Esperance in Western Australia.

Cathy worked as a full time shearer for over 21 years. In 1996, she shore 286 sheep and crutched another 52 all in one day, running the shed out of sheep. They couldn't keep them up. Just an ordinary day for Cathy.  

Throughout Australia, she competed in open class events against the men and made many finals.

In 1988, at the opening of the National Wool Centre in Geelong, she shore a sheep in front of the Queen and presented her with a lock of wool. Ten years later, she travelled to Ireland competing in the Golden Shears World Championships where she won the "Ladies Invitation" event.

Cathy is known to be Australia's — and possibly the world's best female shearer. She has three adult children and retired from shearing in 2004, purchasing the Quilpie Bakery in Queensland known as the "Off Shears Bakery".

An inspiration to many women in the wool industry and the entire agricultural sector, Cathy will be inducted in to the Australian 'Shearers Hall of Fame' at Shear Outback* in Hay, NSW on Sunday, April 17 2022. 

Today, I'm shining a light on women in ag and in particular those involved in the wool industry like this legend, Cathy Wendleborn, for International Women's Day. Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow. Let's Break the Bias! #breakthebias

*Shear Outback are also wonderful stockists and supporters of George the Farmer. Check out all of our books when you pop in to visit the Hall of Fame.

Photo: ABC Rural