YOUNG New South Wales wool classer Tahlia Delaney is not expecting to have any trouble filling her shed work schedule this autumn and into winter.
Word has travelled fast since the 20 year-old daughter of Wagga Wagga shearer Robert Delaney and aged care nurse Cheryle Cochrane won the 2019 AWEX/ TAFE NSW National Graduate Wool Classer competition at the Sydney Royal East Show last Thursday.
Second place in the competition went to Nicole Fragar from TAFE NSW’s Dubbo Campus who was trained by Frank Roberts, and third place was taken by Corey Dolbey of TasTAFE, under trainer Evelyn Archer.
Since the win against other top young classers from across eastern Australia, Tahlia’s phone has been ringing with classing job offers that should take her up to a regular shed run starting in July.
“It’s been crazy really.
“I’m off to Yass next week classing and then Booligal and few other places around home.”
Tahlia has been a wool handler for the last four years and lives at Bethungra in NSW. Since she graduated from TAFE NSW’s Temora campus under trainer Fiona Raleigh in December last year she has been getting one or two classing and wool handling jobs each month.
She left school in Year 11 to go with partner and shearer Matthew Raleigh on a run out near Booligal in NSW and took up wool classing because she “loved wool and wanted to push forward a little bit” in her career.
“I’ve done farm work, lamb marking and all that kind of stuff, but my job’s definitely with wool I think.
“I like sorting wool into categories basically, putting things where they should go,” she said.
“It’s a great life.”
Tahlia said she would continue with her wool classing to gain experience, but eventually wanted to look at a broking or training job.
Tahlia’s trainer Fiona Raleigh said she was impressed with Tahlia’s skills despite not coming from an on-farm wool production background.
“I think it is interesting that traditionally everyone had some contact with a farm or with someone in the industry and then we moved away from it.
“A lot of my students are coming from the wool harvesting side of the industry rather than from wool-growing.”
Tahlia’s success represents Fiona’s first win in the competition as a trainer.
“I am more happy for Tahlia than I am for myself and I was pretty excited, but absolutely more excited for her, for sure, and she really deserved it.
“The minute she walked into my class and started classing wool I knew – some people just have that talent, that extra ability,” Fiona said.
“Tahlia is a very practical person and a very strategic thinker; there is no fussing around with Tahlia, she just gets the job done.”
Fiona said Tahlia’s great people skills also helped her in the competition’s oral presentation section, to be “the complete package.”
“What she demonstrates when she classes is the ability to efficiently put lines of wool together within the classing standards without over-classing.
“Tahlia is really straight forward; main line, cast lines out, bang, that’s it, done – really practical.”
The other wool classer competition finalists were Renee Palmer, TAFE NSW Yass, from Dalton; Tim Milne, TAFE NSW Cowra, from Euchareena; Sarah Polderman, Longerenong College, Dergholm Victoria; Ester Jackel, TAFE NSW Riverina, Corowa; Karina Partridge, TAFE NSW Armidale, Walcha; Karl Weatherley, TAFE NSW Bathurst, Ilford, and Marlene Whittle, SCAA Shearer Woolhandler Training, Maryborough, Victoria.