Wool Processing

Victorian wool classer outclasses strong national field

Sheep Central, April 3, 2024

Golden Stencil winner Kelly Gellie from Maroona in Victoria. Image – AWEX, Facebook.

WESTERN Victorian wool classer Kelly Gellie has won the prestigious AWEX/TAFE NSW National graduate Wool Classer Competition at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Kelly comes from Maroona in Victoria and was the SCAA Shearer Woolhandler Training Inc entrant in the competition.

According to the Australian Wool Exchange’s Facebook site, Kelly has been a chartered accountant and made the shift to the wool industry training as a classer with Moera Hammonds and Brian Kearney. She has only classed the family superfine wool clip since graduating, and said she found the classing of the various wool types in the competition within the time constraints challenging, but exciting.

“I wasn’t expecting to win, but it was very exciting.”

2024 Competitors L to R: Jessica Sharman Taralga NSW, Emily Morton The Rock NSW, Alycia Redden Maitland SA,
Andrew Friend Tamworth NSW (2nd), Kelly Gellie Maroona VIC (1st), Emma Hawkins Mudgee NSW (3rd), Emelia Browne
Hay NSW, Hannah Leonard Clevland TAS, Dejannah Harvey Euabalong NSW, Ben Golland Quirindi NSW.

Kelly got her stencil in July last year and her name was put forward by SCAA SWTI in Hamilton. She had only classed two clips on the family farm before the competition.

Her family, husband Darren and children Thomas, 11, and Tess, 9, made the trip to the show to see her compete. The family runs a superfine Merino and cropping operation south of Ararat, with a small crossbred flock. Kelly was born and bred on a farm, but stopped working as an accountant in a public practice 18 months after her father-in-law and wool classer of 50 years Kerrin decided to take a step back.

“I’m really enjoying it so far.”

Silver stencil winner Andrew Friend from Tamworth NSW with AWEX’s Fiona Raleigh.

Kelly took the Golden Stencil award ahead of Andrew Friend from Tamworth in New South Wales, who was trained by Pauline Smith from TAFE NSW.

AWEX’s Fiona Raleigh, left, with bronze stencil winner Emma Hawkins from Mudgee NSW.

Third place and the bronze stencil awarded to Emma Hawkins of Mudgee, NSW, who was trained by Kim Jenkins at TAFE NSW.

AWEX wool classer registrar Fiona Raleigh said the competition had good entries – one each from Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, and seven entrants from New South Wales, on the back of increased enrolments boosted by funding.

Ms Raleigh said the judges said the competitors were very even and AWN’s Mark Taylor said the classers were well prepared and did a good job under pressure, replicating industry conditions. The other judges were David Cother from AWEX and Stuart Murphy from TAFE NSW, with AWEX’s Renee Timberlake supporting as the penciller.

AWEX’s Renee Timberlake, left, with classer competition judges David Cother from AWEX, Mark Taylor from AWN and Stuart Murphy from TAFE NSW.

Click on AWEX’s Facebook page for more competition photographs.


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