Shannon Warnest goes for third championship

INDUSTRY MENTOR: Max Hayes, Warrimoo, NSW, and Hoby Lambert, Mount Gambier, with Shannon Warnest at the tafeSA shearer and wool handler course.
INDUSTRY MENTOR: Max Hayes, Warrimoo, NSW, and Hoby Lambert, Mount Gambier, with Shannon Warnest at the tafeSA shearer and wool handler course.

GUN Willalooka shearer Shannon Warnest is in the form of his life, hoping to clinch a third world championship next month.

On Sunday, he heads to New Zealand for the World Shearing & Wool Handling Championships in Invercargill from February 8 to 11.

In the past three months he has shorn 10,000 sheep, including two trips to King Island shearing Corriedales, plus time at Coola Station, Kongorong, on composite-type sheep, ready for the challenge of the NZ Romneys and crossbreeds.

“I haven’t done that number for years,” Mr Warnest said. “I have been shearing 6000-7000 a year, especially while we had the [Willalooka] tavern.”

“I have shorn mainly crossbreds, which is a different pattern, and have shorn with some very good shearers to put myself under a bit of pressure.” 

Mr Warnest has represented Australia five times, making the finals at four times.

He has won two world championships on Merinos in South Africa in 2000 and Australia in 2005.

The 42-year-old says another win would be “special”, but acknowledges it will be difficult shearing crossbreds in the competition.

“To win one on crossbreds is nearly hanging up the boots sort of stuff, you can’t do much more than that,” he said.

“But it is a big ask for an Australian to beat the Kiwis and the northern hemisphere fellas on something I wasn’t brought up on.

“They are talking in eight years’ time it might be back in Australia on Merinos, but I’ll be 50 by then.”

If successful, it would be the first time an individual has won on Merinos and crossbreds.

“At the end of the day it is going to come down in the final to about 17 minutes (to shear 20 sheep),” he said.

This week he and wife Catherine hosted 12 enthusiastic learners from SA, Vic and NSW for a tafeSA shearer and wool handler course.

Mr Warnest says it is important to mentor newcomers.

“To get them at this stage and show them properly, you have done a lot of the hard work for them,” he said. 

“I really only got my career going three years in when John Hutchinson did a shearing school.”

Mr Warnest says a hand piece can be a passport to earning good money and travelling the world.

It has enabled him to shear in 18 different countries, with another couple still on his bucket list.

“If these lads show interest, I can help them get work anywhere in the world,” he said.

One of the school’s participants Hoby Lambert from Mount Gambier said it was “awesome” to be able to learn from a world champion.

“The first time I picked up a hand piece it lit a fire in me and I have wanted to shear ever since,” he said.

Willalooka is certainly aware of their local legend and have just honored the shearer with a monument to be placed in the heart of the community.

Click here to read more about the new monument.