Meet Tom Tourle whose attraction to the big toys in the sky in agriculture found him with his feet firmly on the ground

Today’s guest post comes from Tom Tourle who if he is as good a farmer as he is a story teller agriculture is very lucky indeed he chose this career pathway

Tom Tourle  (1)

Why I am I doing all of this? Because I love what I do!

And everything I’m doing is taking me to where I need to be. Where that utopia might be, I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure it involves me, on our property, surrounded by healthy animals, lots of grass, on a bike and with a big smile on my face, just like when I was a kid.

This is Tom’s story……………………. 

My parents have always said “give me the boy and I’ll show you the man”. They couldn’t have been more right.

My journey in agriculture started the same way as any other kid growing up on the land.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” They’d ask, and the response was always the same- “Just like dad”.

Sure, different ambitions would come and go, (motor cross racer, pilot, bull rider ), but in reality, things don’t change. I’m still that bike riding, animal loving, pliers wielding seven year old I was back then.

Tom Tourle  (1)

And it isn’t only me:

My family has always been active in the Rural Fire Service. My sister, Kennedy, especially loved it. If dad was out at a bushfire, she would wait until he got home, just so she could go to sleep with dad’s smoke filled jumper. Now what does she do? Community Safety Officer with the NSW Rural Fire Service.

My brother, Sam, had his favourite toy lamb as a kid. He would drag this thing around with him wherever he’d go. As he grew up, that toy lamb became poddy lambs, and so started his love affair with sheep. Some things don’t change. He is now working with us on our property, and is the go to man when it comes to questions about wool or animal selection.

So this is where it started- before we even knew it, we were becoming who we are today.

Tom Tourle  (2)

Growing up, I knew agriculture was the industry for me, but in what aspect, I still wasn’t sure. We have always run sheep at home, but for some reason I had a love of cattle and horses. Maybe it was the Troy Dann influence or The Man From snowy River, either way, an interest was sparked early.

I left school with aspirations of flying helicopters. That’s all I wanted to do, it was my passion. Any spare moment I had at school, I was studying flight theory (which really didn’t help out the subjects I was meant to be studying).

I soon worked out that school just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to learn (I love learning!), it was mostly because I felt as though I was spinning my tyres- looking for a bit of traction to get moving!

I stepped out of year 12 and straight into a Business of Farming course, then Low Stress Stock Handling, then TAFE, then KLR Marketing.  I think you get the point. Education opportunities just popped up everywhere and I grabbed them with both hands. This really set the wheels in motion for my love of education and desire to become an educator.

After working at home with mum and dad for 18 months, I still had dreams of flying choppers and working with cattle and horses. Seeing as I couldn’t convince mum and dad that there were huge advantages in owning a helicopter, I decided I would find somewhere I could do these things.

Time to head north!

I left home in February 2011 and headed to “Rosella Plains Station”, North QLD. This was a big step for me. There was so much to learn! I was leaving my friends and comfort zone at home..

What if I didn’t like it? What if it wasn’t like the glossy pages in Outback Magazine? Well, lucky I had nothing to worry about. I had such a warm welcome by the Scholes and Green families at Rosella Plains who took me under their wing and into their homes, teaching me everything I needed to know if I was going to make it as a ringer and stick it out in the north.

I was so appreciative of the level of responsibility they gave me. I think that was the advantage of working on a family owned and managed property- you get to do a bit of everything. I wasn’t just some young ringer expected to work in the stock camp from dawn til dusk, I was given the chance to operate machinery, travel to neighbouring properties to pick up cattle and sit in on business meetings. What an experience! Every day was just learn, learn, learn. There was always something new to learn about, and I loved every minute of it.

Tom Tourle  (2)

I spent a lot of time during mustering looking up at the chopper, but with no real desire of actually flying it. I was having so much fun on the ground, why would I want to be up there?! This is when I realised where my passion really lies- working with livestock and growing grass. I still wouldn’t mind having a chopper parked in the shed, but I’d much rather be working on the ground. Maybe one day…

After 18 months at Rosella, it was time to come home. I came back to Dubbo in September 2012 and got back into the life as a sheep farmer. The first few months took a bit of readjusting- looking for cows to chase and missing the horse work.

It took a bit to find my feet, but once 2013 came around the ball started rolling again.

I caught up with some of my old TAFE teachers in early 2013, just to touch base and catch up. Suddenly I was enrolled in Certificate III Agriculture, then Cert IV Ag, then Woolclassing, and that was just the beginning..

As much as I have always loved to learn, I’ve also loved to teach. While I was on a bit of a roll with my studies, I decided to also pick up my Certificate IV in Training and Education, meaning I could then teach with organisations such as TAFE.

2013 was such a big year for me, completing 6 qualifications, picking up a job teaching at Western College in Dubbo, starting my own grazing and trading enterprise, while working at home full time.

Not that I did anything special- I just took every opportunity that came my way. These opportunities are everywhere and the more that you take, the more that seem to appear.

2014 is looking just as busy, looking at teaching more, travelling overseas and interstate on scholarships and development programs, while working at home and expanding my own business. Fun times ahead!

Why I am I doing all of this? Because I love what I do!

And everything I’m doing is taking me to where I need to be. Where that utopia might be, I have no idea, but I’m pretty sure it involves me, on our property, surrounded by healthy animals, lots of grass, on a bike and with a big smile on my face, just like when I was a kid.

Pat Morgan has red dust running through his veins

Hi, my name is Patrick Morgan, a 20 year old university student/farmer from Colbinabbin, in Northern Victoria. Our first family farm “Wanella” is 8 kms out of town. It is a mixed farming enterprise of cereal and oilseed cropping for grain and fodder production & merino sheep for wool and prime lambs.

Wanella includes the original Morgan family farm of Nerada, where our family settled 5 generations ago. clip_image002

Harvesting in the late 1990’s


Harvesting in 2013

At this present day there are 3 generations that are farming in our family, my grandfather, my father with  my 5 brothers and me lending a helping hand .


Marking lambs with the family in 2005

I am currently studying at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga but at any chance I can grasp, I jump straight in my ute to head home; to sow, spray, cut, bale and harvest our crops or to crutch, shear and sell our home grown wool.


At times we use light planes to spread nitrogen on our crops


Good soil and moisture and carefully fertilised crops make great hay 


Its always good to have plenty of hay on hand when pasture is in short supply

Along with a little help from my right hand man Jed (my kelpie pup) in the shearing shed, I am a professional Woolclasser by trade.


Classing the wool


Pressing the wool


Branding the Wool

When the wool comes of the sheep’s back I test it for various characteristics, press it into a bale of over 100kg and then I place my wool classers stamp on the bale to then be sold at an auction. clip_image014

My grandparents, my twin brothers and me with the Elders representative at the Wool Auctions in Lara. The wool on display beside me contains samples of our wool to be auctioned

Jed is 6 months old now and has become the typical ‘man’s best friend’ of mine. Jed will sit on the back of the motorbike, ride in our speed boat and work a very decent day in the sheep yards without hesitation and always wagging that tail of his.


My dog Jed

Most of our family’s wool and lamb production comes from my grandparent’s property which is just out of Heathcote, Victoria. We are running approximately 3000 head of Merino Ewes and Weathers and Prime Lambs.

I have had roughly 15 students in my year level throughout my primary and secondary schooling, in Rushworth Victoria. Even though these communities that I have grown up in are so small, I find it quite interesting that we are only 2 hours by car to the heart of Melbourne. I have loved growing up in our rural community and I will be forever grateful for the place I will always call home.

At the moment I am concentrating on my completing my Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management degree.  It is a wonderful opportunity through my degree to have access to diverse array of experts in Agriculture/Agribusiness. To say that I am thoroughly enjoying this course and the University here at Charles Sturt would be an understatement, and I can’t wait to put all of it into practice in the near future, as a professional in the field myself.

Ever since I was a young boy I had become fond of Lee Kernaghan and his music. To this day a particular verse still sticks with me, a perfect metaphor for my thoughts on farming, what I love.

“It’s planting seed and praying for rain, its Red dust running through your veins, where there’s a corrugated iron shed and work boots on the back doorstep, it’s when my wheels hit the gravel road and it feels like home, it’s a way of life, it’s the life I live, and its right where I want to be, it’s the way it is.” – Lee Kernaghan.

It shows me that we as farmers, have a great underlying passion for what we do for a living, and if the rest of the farming community is anything like me, they take a great deal of satisfaction of succeeding in this occupation.


Can you just imagine what it is like harvesting wheat with a backdrop like this

For me a career in agriculture is the ultimate grow

To plant a seed and watch it grow and be harvested to feed many

To nurture a new born lamb and gather its wool to clothe others  

To have the opportunity to share my story and showcase how good OUR agriculture sector is, I believe a career and a goal second to none.

Meet Cassie Baille who says Wool is my future. Join me and make it yours

My name is Cassie Baile and I am a fifth generation sheep farmer from Bendemeer which is a village of 485 people on the Macdonald River in the New England region of New South Wales.


The road to Bendemeer

I am 22 years old and lucky enough to have grown up on a farm with the wide open spaces of paddocks and the familiar surroundings of horses, dogs and sheep

I have many fond memories of running around in the shearing shed, helping to draft, drench and watching the shearing.  We always had few pet/poddy lambs at the house after lambing. It was  a great joy to care for them and watch them grow into sheep.

One of my most memorable recollections was heading with Dad to check on and/or muster the sheep. I would have been happy to do this every day, 365 days of the year.  It is all the wonderful memories and farm life experience that have fuelled my passion for agriculture and in particular the Wool Industry.

Following the completion of Year 12 at New England Girls’ School in Armidale, New South Wales, I studied and gained my professional Woolclassers’ Certificate in 2009 through Tamworth TAFE.

Following my successful selection for an Elders Traineeship in May last year, I have been provided with on-going support and training from my mentors and the Elders team and this has allowed me to progress to my career pathway in the Wool industry.

I now live and work in Sydney, for Elders as a Wool Technical Support Officer at the Yennora Wool Selling Centre. I really love my work and look forward to each day, as there is always something happening.


That’s me in the middle at the Yennora Wool Centre

My Elders Traineeship has given me incredible exposure to the many and varied facets of the Wool Industry including

  • Ram Sales and Bull Sales, on property and regional sales

Attending sales both on property and regionally, has enabled me to gain extensive knowledge and skills, interact with clients, improve upon my networking skills and also learn how to process sales and complete buyer registrations.

Throughout the past 11 months, I have travelled the state to towns including Newcastle, Dubbo, Cooma and Walcha. Each of these have been a great opportunity to learn more about Ram and Ewe selection, wool characteristics and selling options and also to meet and interact with existing and potential clients.

This year, I was also fortunate enough to attend the Sydney Royal Easter Show to network with sheep breeders and take in all that the Sheep and Wool pavilions had to offer. The Sydney Royal was a great experience, which enable me to see some of the highest quality sheep and wool from all over the country on display.

  • Farmer Interaction and Networking opportunities

Meeting dedicated and committed wool growing families is an inspiration to me as I know it is to the wool industry and wider community.

My job with Elders allows me to travel meet and network with farmers in either a hands on way through face to face meetings such as attending on-farm shearings and assisting with ram selection at Studs and over the phone conversations. I particularly enjoy meeting and speaking with wool growers  at events like the Newcastle Wool Sales and Industry Functions. The positive atmosphere at each of these functions is amazing, with like-minded farmers and employees able to interact in a friendly and supportive environment and build upon as well as share their own knowledge of the wool industry.

It has certainly helped build my confidence and enabled me to become a more outgoing person.


Elders team at Newcastle Client Night 2013

  • ·Auctioneering

Most recently, I have begun auctioneering at the weekly Sydney Wool Sales. This has been a fantastic opportunity for me to learn the new skill of being a Wool Auctioneer and also to improve my communication skills.


Me Auctioneering with Craig Brennan, Yennora Wool Technical Manager

Presentation is very important when you are trusted to sell a client’s wool clip. They are trusting you, as their broker and auctioneer, with their annual income and therefore it is very important to know the client and their product well.  Its is very important to present the clip and yourself well, to achieve the best possible price for your client and their product. I also help to prepare for the weekly sale through firstly the lotting of the client’s wool specification, the valuing of the samples located on the show floor and by interacting with buyers in order to gain an idea of how the market may perform that week and over coming weeks, depending on supply and demand at that time. The opportunity to become an auctioneer has been another, very exciting step facilitated by the help and training provided by my trusted mentors within Elders and the industry. Each week I challenge myself to improve my previous weeks’ performance and  believe with the amount of support of my mentors, lots of practice and commitment, I have the potential to become a highly valued Wool Auctioneer in years to come.

The Wooltrade selling system is an internet-based system trading 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Wooltrade provides woolgrowers with an alternative marketing system for their wool that is complementary to the traditional auction system. The very nature of the Wooltrade system has opened up the Australian wool market across all states, allowing buyers to purchase wool nationally rather than just regionally.

Wooltrade is based on computer technology, but it is also a managed system providing personal support to assist users. The technology used by Wooltrade enables ease of access for buyers who are able to cost-effectively and efficiently buy wool and secure future supply. Source

I have been involved with all of these processes,  including selecting suitable lots of wool and listing them for sale on the computer system. These systems assist in both the marketing and selling of wool clips, and help woolgrowers have the flexibility to optimise prices for their wool clip and potentially avoid market volatility and the vagaries of prices on traditional sale days. See footnote

The wool industry has a proud history and plays a pivotal role in providing high quality fibre and clothing to countries all around the world.

My career in the Wool industry is allowing me to surround myself with inspirational people who are generously giving their time to mentor me. It is opening so many doors and I am committed to giving back by sharing my story with next generation and hopefully inspire other young people to join me and ensure a bright future for the Australian wool industry

You can watch Cassie talk about her career here


About 85% of wool sold in Australia is sold by open cry auction. ‘Sale by sample’ is a method in which a mechanical claw takes a sample from each bale in a line or lot of wool. These grab samples are bulked, objectively measured, and a sample of not less than 2 kg is displayed in a box for the buyer to examine. The Australian Wool Exchange conducts sales primarily in Sydney, Melbourne, and Fremantle. There are about 80 brokers and agents throughout Australia

About 7% of Australian wool is sold by private treaty on farms or to local wool-handling facilities. This option gives wool growers benefit from reduced transport, warehousing, and selling costs. This method is preferred for small lots or mixed butts in order to make savings on reclassing and testing.

About 5% of Australian wool is sold over the internet on an electronic offer board.  This option gives wool growers the ability to set firm price targets, reoffer passed-in wool and offer lots to the market quickly and efficiently. This method works well for tested lots, as buyers use these results to make a purchase. About 97% of wool is sold without sample inspection; however, as of December 2009, 59% of wool listed had been passed in from auction.] Growers through certain brokers can allocate their wool to a sale and at what price their wool will be reserved.

Sale by tender can achieve considerable cost savings on wool clips large enough to make it worthwhile for potential buyers to submit tenders. Some marketing firms sell wool on a consignment basis, obtaining a fixed percentage as commission.

Forward selling: Some buyers offer a secure price for forward delivery of wool based on estimated measurements or the results of previous clips. Prices are quoted at current market rates and are locked in for the season. Premiums and discounts are added to cover variations in micron, yield, tensile strength, etc., which are confirmed by actual test results when available.

Another method of selling wool includes sales direct to wool mills.