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Change and continuity

Change and continuity

A farmer shows a young girl a Merino sheep, 1948. National Archives of Australia.
A farmer shows a young girl a Merino sheep, 1948. National Archives of Australia.

 

We are all much pleased with our coats — the quality of the cloth, I think cannot be exceeded.
John Macarthur, 1817

The Macarthur coats of 1817 were unusual. With an average fineness of 16 microns, the wool was fit for a king. Most wool is far coarser, and generations of children have grown up hating the itch and prickle of their woollen dressing-gowns and school jumpers.

Many woolgrowers used to aim for volume rather than fineness, but competition from synthetic fibres has lowered demand for wool clothing. As a result, innovation on the land, in textile design and in marketing has been vital in keeping wool competitive.