A TEENAGER from a remote corner of north-west New South Wales has created a major piece of sheep shearing history by winning the Golden Shears Junior final in Masterton New Zealand.
The Friday-afternoon triumph by 18 year-old Tyron Cochrane in a six-shearer final of five New Zealand strong wool sheep each was his first in competition.
It was also the first New Zealand Golden Shears title win by an Australian since legendary shearer John Allan’s win in the intermediate final in the first year of the championships in 1961, and possibly the first by a First Nations Aboriginal representative anywhere.
It is thought to have been just the 11th win by a non-New Zealand competitor across more than 460 shearing and wool handling titles decided in the 61 years of the championships, that have this week bounced back after two years of cancellations in the global pandemic.
Tyron comes from Goodooga, in the Brewarrina Shire, home of the Yuwaalaraay people of his parents Terry and Belinda, just 20km from the Queensland border. It is recognised as one of the most disadvantaged areas of New South Wales. His win is a major step not only for his family and people, but also for the First Nations employment development projects of Dubbo-based REDi, that brought a small team to New Zealand and the Golden Shears to get first-hand the feel of shearing sports competitions in New Zealand.
Tyron’s win follows his participation in an exploratory trip to the New Zealand Merino Shears in Alexandra in October by an earlier group, with Australia-based New Zealand shearing legend and project mentor Sam Te Whata and two others with REDi deputy chief executive Michael Cooper just five weeks ago. The REDi shearers and wool handlers competed in shearing sports for the first time at Taihape on January 28. Tyron has been shearing for Masterton contractor Paddy Mason.
Despite his lack of familiarity with the New Zealand sheep breeds, after shearing mainly fine wool Merinos in Australia, Tyron qualified for a final for the first time six days later and finished sixth at the North Island championships in Marton on February 4. He was then third at the Aria Waitangi Day Sports on February 6, fifth at the Southern Shears at Gore, in the South Island on February 18 and again at the Taumarunui Shears back in the Central North Island last Friday(February 24) and the Apiti Sports Shears. All were won by shearers he was to meet in today’s final.
Thus, after barely having previously travelled further afield than the 415km from Goodooga to Dubbo in NSW, where he has shorn for well-known contractor and shearer Steve “Muddy” Mudford, and after having initially been shown the handpiece by his dad, also a shearer, Tyron never dreamed of a win in the sport let alone at the Golden Shears.
In the junior final, Tyron was second to finish and was second on time and shearing board quality points. He hopes the win will inspire other young Australians into shearing, particularly those of the Aboriginal community at home, where he has three sisters.
Mr Cooper said for Tyron to have qualified for the final was a major achievement on what was a venture designed to give young hopefuls the experience, and be the trailblazers for their contemporaries.
“To win was the cherry on the top,” he said.
Golden Shears Junior shearing final: Tyron Cochrane (Goodooga NSW) 7min 16.889sec, 27.044pts, 1; Jake Goldsbury (Waitotara) 6min 30.912sec, 29.746pts, 2; Cody Waihape (Gore) 8min 46.864sec, 31.543pts, 3; Emma Martin (Gore) 9min 10.982sec, 32.749pts, 4; Dan Rogers (Raetihi) 8min 39.114sec, 32.756pts, 5; Ryka Swan (Wairoa) 7min 43.711sec, 33.586pts, 6.