The call to arms by Clunes residents to support a local legend after he was recently diagnosed with motor neurone disease has gained momentum.
Tony ‘Bushy’ Hill has worked as a shearer for more than 50 years.
A group of close friends has organised a ‘cut-out’ on Saturday to recognise Bushy’s achievements and help raise funds for him and his wife Andy, who are primary carers for four of their grandchildren.
The sniff of competition and the promise of a get together for generations of shearers and others involved in the industry has attracted widespread interest.
Many former and current shearers, wool growers, livestock agents, businesses and locals have pledged support.
The MND diagnosis came only weeks ago as Bushy was preparing to finish his final shed after more than 50 years shearing up and down eastern Australia.
With a best daily tally of 357, his final tally is more than 1.6 million sheep shorn; 72,000 tonnes dragged across the board; 4800 tonnes of wool produced, or about 26,600 bales; valued at about $38.4 million.
Bushy was universally known as a fast and clean shearer who made it look easy.
He worked from the big to the small – from a shed of 70,000 plus to small local sheds.
The biggest shed was the Reola Station shed near White Cliffs, NSW, where a three-storey, eight-stand shed was replaced with a 16-stand shed that continues today.
He has shorn from Tambo Station “out from Blackall” Queensland to South Australia and Victoria and most parts between.
Bushy ranks his contemporaries Rod Moran, Ararat, and Brent Humphreys, Esperance, Western Australia, at the top of the tree.
Rod Moran was at the top because of his ability and cleanness – “clean with speed”.
His favourite sheds have been Merino sheds – “they always comb well and don’t get sticky”.
Bushy admits that the modern shearing techniques were better and that younger shearers learned “better habits” and ways to shear sheep than in his day.
Three locals behind the a fundraising activities include Alan Baird, John Drife and Garry Fenton.
Mr Baird, who shore with Bushy, said the response had been fantastic from around the district and the wider community.
“Bushy was a professional, gun shearer – he was born into shearing,” he said.
Bushy got his start at Baird’s shed as a 15-year-old and Mr Baird took Bushy along to the many sheds they worked together.
It was in Garry Fenton’s shed near Clunes that Bushy shore his first tally of 100 sheep, and later the first shed he topped 200 a day.
Mr Fenton said Bushy had a handpiece that he had used for so long – about 500,000 sheep – his finger prints were indented in it’s barrel.
John Drife said he was a farmer-shearer, while Bushy was a shearer’s-shearer.
He said Bushy was always “good company” and would hand on his knowledge to younger shearers.
Mr Drife said an event at the recent Clunes Show had raised more than $8500 with other activities to be added.
The Bushy’s Cutout fundraiser will be held at Clunes Showground on Saturday starting at 1pm.
The highlight is a Quick Shears competition that has attracted shearers from a wide area.
Mr Drife said shearing demonstrations and auction items would also feature.
To mark Bushy’s contribution, Garry Fenton has written a 32-page book, Bushy’s Cut Out, that will be on sale.
For information about the book or the event on Saturday contact the secretary Barb Adam on 0439 600 760; or email: email@example.com.